CCP launches âSining Siglaâ straight into Filipino homes
“Sining Sigla” is an online outreach program of the CCP Office of the President. Shown at left, CCP president Nick Lizaso.
CCP launches ‘Sining Sigla’ straight into Filipino homes
THE X-PAT FILES - Scott Garceau (The Philippine Star) - September 21, 2020 - 12:00am

Everybody’s got a favorite CCP story. Whatever ballet or cultural show you remember first watching, whatever orchestral concert you enjoyed, or Cinemalaya festival you caught, the Cultural Center of the Philippines has always held a soft spot in Filipino hearts.

Yet COVID has radically altered the way artists perform, and the ways we consume art.

So on that note, the CCP Office of the President launched “Sining Sigla.” Spearheaded by CCP President Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso, it’s a virtual arts outreach program that’s working to develop new paths to art engagement in a period when communal activities are still very much off the menu.

All programs are free and available to stream on the Facebook CCP homepage.

Over the past year, as CCP celebrated its 50th anniversary, we’ve seen weekly online concerts by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, lightshow concerts, as well as virtual mentorship programs reaching out to far-flung areas.

Now, with “Sining Sigla,” there’s a real possibility this could become a model for future arts outreach.

The Zoom event offered glimpses of the kind of events we took for granted before COVID: jazz concerts and short film fests, performances of epic Filipino poems and even puppetry. All of it scaled to the laptop screens we’ve come to rely on during this lockdown.

Before the pandemic, the CCP-OP outreach program was able to physically visit a number of cities such as Antique, Baguio, Palawan, Davao, Bulacan and Iloilo. Now they’re confined to streaming inside our homes.

But that’s what CCP President Lizaso hopes “Sining Sigla” will offer Filipinos the immediate term: “The opportunity to be one with everybody through the arts.”

As he puts it, “There is really something very magical when the art, the artists and the stories we want to tell become one. It gives us a sense of understanding as people.”

Scheduled events for September through November include the following:

• Showbiz leading man and artist Xian Lim is directing MALA (Movies Adapted from Literary Arts), a special series of educational, fun, short videos that aim to educate, inculcate good values, and further an appreciation for the arts among the young. The first two installments will be adaptations of Ibong Adarna and Florante at Laura — told through puppetry. Joining Xian for the project are scriptwriter Ony Carcamo, the country’s premiere ventriloquist; and production designer Aina Ramolete, renowned shadowplay and puppet designer.

• “Jazz Stay At Home” brings back the jazz festival, albeit in prerecorded segments by local players that also runs through September and October. You’ll hear from respected jazz artists of various generations — vocal trio Baihana, Nicole Asensio, Lorna and Pipo Cifra, Tots Tolentino, Simon Tan Trio and Michael Guevarra.

• “Pagbabalik-tanaw sa Unang Hari Ng Balagtasan,” a special retrospective on Jose Corazon De Jesus’ life and work, is also in the pipeline for November. This program will be directed by actor-director Ricky Davao, supported by top artists Dennis Marasigan (scriptwriter/assistant director) and Ohm David (production designer). Singer Lara Maigue gave us a preview from the show.

• Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) continues to stream live concert performances on the Facebook page, generally on Friday evenings.

For MALA, which features one-hour films aimed at a young audience, they’ve enlisted Carcamo, the best ventriloquist in the country, who promises “fresh and exciting” takes on classic Filipino poems and myths. “Filipino puppeteers are some of the best in the world, talaga,” he says. Actor Lim notes that kids of all ages will get a different feel, watching puppets act out what could be dry material on the page. “Even our schools have shifted to iPads and devices, so seeing these classic texts online, it will have a different type of engagement, and it will spark interest.”

Director Ricky Davao said the online venue is challenging, but meets the times: “I’m hoping we can give a different perspective on the life of Jose Corazon de Jesus. He was a superstar in his time: when people heard he was performing on a certain stage, they’d really lined up to go there to watch and listen to him. In our project, we hope to get that feel, that effect on our audiences through streaming.”

For “Jazz Stay at Home,” CCP trustee and musician Stanley Seludo hosts a roster of local talent in performances and workshops scheduled for Sept. 25-27 and Oct. 2-4. The performances will be prerecorded for “ultimate quality,” he says, but no less exciting, even watching from home. Bossa nova aficianado Pipo Cifra notes that, during COVID, jazz has to find ways to reach out to new technologies — even TikTok, his new favorite — to expand its audience. Singer Anna Graham notes their trio Baihana mixes jazzed-up OPM and classic pop songs like Mr. Sandman into their vocal set to appeal to younger audiences.

As for the precarious financial straits of performers and musicians, CCP president Lizaso says programs like “Sining Sigla” are a main channel of their outreach. “Through CCP and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, we reach out to about 10,000 cultural workers in the Philippines, over 19 sectors of art — sculpture, architecture, theater, dance, music, etc.” They’re offered support and venues to perform. He likens it to athletes being given the opportunities to train and get better at their respective crafts, for the county.

I asked whether these shifts to streamed programming will become a permanent feature, even after the pandemic is over. And will it help expand CCP’s reach nationwide and abroad?

Seludo said, “I think it’s not permanent, it’s until we get a vaccine. So once everything is back to normal, I think it becomes an added value — that we are now focusing on quality content that we can actually provide online, and that everyone can have access, even internationally.”

Lim, who directed Tabon for the 2019 Cinemalaya festival, adds that, since the pandemic started, “We’ve already been doing everything virtually from art exhibits to shows, even movies, we’ve been shooting differently, and it’s all catered to the online platform. So yes, definitely it has changed. And yes, definitely, it offers a way to cater to a much broader audience.”

* * *

You can check out all these “Sining Sigla” events live at the Facebook CCP and CCP Office of the President pages. Or visit https:/culturalcenter.gov.ph or on Instagram ccp.officeofthepresident.

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