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CCP completing phase one of renovations |


CCP completing phase one of renovations

Scott Garceau - The Philippine Star
CCP completing phase one of renovations
Ongoing rehabilitation of the CCP Grand Staircase and Main Lobby.
STAR / File

If you’re wondering how the renovations on the 55-year-old Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Theater have been going since the building shut down last year, you’re not alone.

The CCP held a press con at the open-air Liwasang Kalikasan Bamboo Pavilion adjacent to CCP Theater last week, where CCP president ad interim Michelle Nikki Junia, vice-chair Margie Moran Floirendo and artistic director Dennis Marasigan outlined the rehabilitation plans for its expected reopening in late 2025.

The symbolism of holding the press con in the relatively modest Bamboo Pavilion, intended or not, was not lost on us. Bamboo, after all, is known for its resiliency, and this will have to do while the CCP theater undergoes its estimated P2 billion overhaul.

Since announcing rehabilitation plans after an audit in 2018 and ’19, the project is now completing Phase One, including retrofitting the building to meet more modern (2015) standards with a complete overhaul of mechanical, electrical, plumbing, sanitary and fire protection features “to withstand natural calamities,” plus sustainable upgrades, like replacing asbestos pipes, converting to inverter and zone air-conditioning and LED lighting.

Other updates include modernized acoustic features by Japanese company Nagata, facilities for digital streaming of live performances, plus interactive onsite and virtual building tools.

Phase Two will simultaneously happen with Phase One once the structural work is done, focusing on mechanical and technical capacities of the theaters.

As of January 2024, the rehabilitation is about 30 percent completed. With all the consultants already onboard, “We expect that the work will speed up” with full completion by the end of 2025, said Junia. “The Main Building and its theaters will definitely open by 2026, welcoming everyone to its theaters with new productions and programs.

At the same time, the cost of the rehab has gone up from its initial building audit. “The findings from the audit necessitated that the 55-year-old building needed more than its usual maintenance,” reports Junia. “It needed a complete overhaul.

CCP artistic director Dennis Marasigan outlines the performance schedule for 2024.

The ad interim CCP president emphasizes that “overhaul” doesn't mean changing the original Brutalist architectural design by National Artist Leandro Locsin. “As we know, the CCP has been declared a cultural treasure, so it's a delicate balancing act of preserving the design and modernizing the building.”

But costs will go up.

“When we began the rehabilitation, we saw the apparent wear and tear, but when we started opening up the slabs and walls, checked the flooring, we saw the damages, the cracks and deterioration due to age.” Engineers are “carefully removing the slabs and installing carbon fiber, reinforced polymer,” which is “a very tedious process.”

Moran-Floirendo added that “for now, the CCP Center needs our loving care and attention,” but in the meantime, “we will be business as usual.”

In that area, Marasigan outlined a year of CCP festivals and outreach performances that will continue to extend to other venues and partnerships.

“For 2024, we are targeting to produce 765 events, ranging from performances, screenings, exhibits and workshops both onsite, off-site and online,” he said. “We hope to reach over 200,000 onsite viewers and engage over 6,000 artists.”

CCP vice-chair Margie Moran Floirendo and CCP president ad interim Michelle Nikki Junia give a progress report on CCP Main Theater renovations.

Well-loved festivals such as CCP Pasinaya, Virgin Labfest, Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival will continue with expanded reach to the regions.

Virgin Labfest also expands outward, with a Bicol edition this year.

For Cinemalaya, “For the first time, it’s likely the main events will not be in the CCP Complex. We are finalizing negotiations to hold it in another venue,” Marasigan noted.

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, Philippine Ballet Theater, Bayanihan Dance Company, Philippine Madrigal Singers, Ballet Philippines, and Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group will hold performances in alternate venues.

Popular film programs such as CCP’s The Met Live in HD, National Theater Live, Cine Icons, Cinema Under the Stars and Lakbay Sine will return. The CCP Out-of-the-Box Series continues with a second edition, while Triple Threats returns with Leading Ladies concerts. (We got a preview during the press con.)

The popular Children’s Biennale, last held in 2022, will be held at Circuit Performing Arts Theater in Makati this year.

Meanwhile the CCP BOT-initiated program Kanto Kultura will hold Baraptasan, a modern take on the Balagtasan, in celebration of the centenary of Francisco Balagtas Baltazar, with “literary jousting” in Filipino, Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Ilokano.

“This year, we are intensifying our presence in the regions, creating new partners with LGUs and cultural organizations, collaborating with as many artists as we can, and producing shows in alternative performing spaces and venues across the country,” said Marasigan.

But, though more coordination with regional schools and institutions would help in this direction, until now, little direct support has been forthcoming from DepEd, Marasigan said during the Q&A.

We also heard that CCP funding is still an ongoing concern, considering the expected added costs. “We will have to do another set of pleas (from Congress) for next year, and considering inflation, there's going to be quite a jump for the amount that we'll be needing to successfully cover the expenses for next year,” said Junia, “but we have had some form of commitment from government that we will be helped in finishing the building and that's something that we look forward to.”

She added: “We are doing our very best to control the costs from going up. That's why we are really trying to finish on time.”

Fingers crossed, end of 2025.

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