Arts and Culture

Philippines joins global initiative to use art to heal from pandemic

Earl D.C. Bracamonte - Philstar.com
Philippines joins global initiative to use art to heal from pandemic
A Vicente Manansala painting
The STAR/File

MANILA, Philippines — The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) rolled out its second virtual press briefing for the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) summit from the Roma Room of the Manila Hotel. Simply dubbed "Resiliart Earth-saving Manila Event," the week-long assembly will bring the power of the arts to foster healing from the pandemic.

"The SDG summit has UNESCO patronage. This Earth-saving event will be composed of workshops, festivals, and fora. Nothing can be achieved except with collaboration and partnership. This assembly will mobilize inter-disciplinary communities of artists to achieve peace, climate justice, health, well-being, and sustainable development.

"This will be a social change network of experts and educators, as well as parliamentarians with the support of Senate president Vicente Sotto III, and the Senate commission on education headed by Win Gatchalian. The summit will show our inclusive arts programs through events happening in different places around the country and how the collective effort could help indigenous peoples from climate change and armed conflict," apprized National Artist Cecille Guidote Alvarez.

The first event will be at the Philippine Normal University (PNU). It will be the site of the Art Camp with Nemi Miranda and other Asian artists wherein they'll produce five murals to echo the cluster objectives of the assembly.

"In 2001, the PNU gave former UNESCO director Irina Bokova an honoris causa for her noteworthy vision, when she talked about collaboration on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. In the UNESCO book, Reimagining the Future of Education, the new focus is geared towards rebalancing with peoples, nature/environment, and technology," informed PNU president Bert Tuga.

The platform of actions or proposals for submission to the UNESCO executive board are examined and given due course during its biennial general conference. The Philippines is an innovator in many fields, especially in the arts. The Colombian initiative, however, led to the SDG agenda, while the participation of Africa will help in addressing the continent's many civil unrest through the healing power of art, like dance and music, which is very integral to the African mainstream consciousness.

The comic book medium was part of the UNESCO international assembly in 2007. It called comics the "illustrated theater of the world" because art should bring its message to the farthest corners of the world. Like poetry, comic books should be read by the hoi polloi. Philippine National Artists like Botong Francisco, Vicente Manansala, and Ariel Alcala were some of the great minds who also dabbled in comic books and/or series.

"The workshops that will transpire is hoped to heal trauma and rebuild confidence, especially for the inmates of the Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa. These broken men and women may not have the chance to leave the prison walls, but their spirits will remain free," intoned workshop director Frank Rivera.

The summit will also address climate change and the political upheavals in Burkina Faso, Mali, Somalia, Mozambique, Kenya, Serbia, and Kosovo.

"The world will be a better place to live in - with the role of the arts helping to achieve this end. The preservation and enrichment of culture is mandated by law to the LGUs. Thus, a cultural office is a compliance thereof. So is the establishment of arts councils in all local government units. These days, TechoArts is what's used to address plights against the pandemic," remarked Sen. Joey Lina, president of the International Theater Institute.

The 'Mission Presidentiale,' an organization of all the heads of South American countries have sent, through messages, their support to the summit.

Around the world, changes and reforms are unfolding. In Ghana, the US$ 50-million Pan African World Museum has been created. In Saudi Arabia, a 10-billion tree planting project is underway; and so is the 40-billion tree planting project across the Middle East.

As part of the summit's outreach program, sustainable tourism projects in Bohol, parts of Mindanao, as well as the Dumagat community of San Jose del Monte in Bulacan are underway. The LGUs have now realized this essential dimension for progress.

On the home front, the NCCA has just culminated the PWDs songwriting competition. The entrants may be handicapped, but they, too, are competent disciples of the arts, not to mention the most affected by the ongoing pandemic.

With Manila Hotel as headquarters, the Resiliart Earth-saving Manila Event will run from December 2 to 10 and will be participated in by 27 countries, including two Kenyan representatives who have dabbled on prison work. The Department of Foreign Affairs will extend courtesies to entry of participants who have no embassies in their respective countries. For more information, visit manilasdgevent.info.

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