May art unite us and help bring peace

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February is National Arts Month (NAM), implemented by Presidential Proclamation 683 that was signed in 1991. For one full month, the country brims with art shows, festivals, cultural celebrations, workshops and lectures, concerts and many other activities. There are two primary government agencies leading the activities: the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). These agencies are being supported by a number of private and government agencies.

Part of CCP’s celebration was the three-day Pasinaya Open House Festival, which featured workshops and performances in theater, dance, music, film, visual arts, literature, etc. It was held in CCP and partner venues like galleries and museums on February 1 to 3. More than 3,000 artists participated in the events, which revolved around the theme “Karapatan, Kalayaan, Kultura” (Rights, Freedom, Culture).

The NCCA, on the other hand, also launched a nationwide arts month celebration. Its chairman, National Artist Virgilio S. Almario, and NCCA Executive Director Rico S. Pableo Jr., together with Deputy Executive Director Marichu G. Tellano, are leading the monthlong observance of the NAM across various regions all over the country.

NCCA’s NAM celebrations opened in Negros Occidental on February 1, but the commission is holding simultaneous opening events in the National Capital Region (February 3), Luzon (February 11) and Mindanao (February 15). Dubbed “Ani ng Sining: Philippine Arts Festival,” the celebrations feature activities under the commission’s seven national committees—Architecture, Cinema, Dance, Literary Arts, Music, Dramatic Arts and the Visual Arts.

NCCA’s NAM celebrations will close with the “Ani ng Dangal” awarding ceremonies in recognition of artists who have earned international awards in the past year (2018). The closing program will be held at the Diamond Hotel in Manila on February 27.

All of the cultural and artistic events being launched nationwide this month are meant to highlight the passion and brilliance of the Filipino artist. These will also show that the country is replete with artistic and cultural expressions. Artists and organizers are united in the goal of inspiring more of our people to immerse themselves in the beauty of our own arts and culture, and to learn to appreciate the value, diversity and creativity of the nation’s many artists and cultural workers.

I hope that art lovers from all corners of the Philippines will share their love for the arts with their relatives and friends. I do hope that every Filipino will take part in the celebration of our rich culture and artistry. And I also hope that art will somehow unite us as a people, and serve as a balm to close some gaps, mend relations and establish peace in our beloved country.