Starweek Magazine

Creative Spaces The CCP Celebrates its Golden Year

Ida Anita Q. del Mundo - The Philippine Star
Creative Spaces The CCP Celebrates its Golden Year

­­­MANILA, Philippines — The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) started out in controversy as an elitist institution. Half a century ago it was the playground – and play thing – of the rich an infamous. But, through the years, the CCP has changed. Today, it is unarguably the country’s premier arts center, the hub of dynamic creative endeavors and the incubator of new artists, new art forms and new expressions.

“When it was founded in 1969, it was known as one of the premier performing arts venues in Asia,” says vice president and artistic director Chris Millado. “It was known as a platform for high profile international artists of great reputation. Of course the problem there was that only those who could afford to see them were able to access these performances.”

Millado adds that it was the founding years that planted the seeds for the the flagship companies of the CCP, with the establishment of the resident companies including the CCP Orchestra – now the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra – and the CCP Dance Company, now Ballet Philippines.

“I know there were seeds planted then for performances that were done outside the CCP, but these were done in a very limited scale,” Millado shares.

It was right after the 1986 People Power Revolution that there was a shift in the  direction and orientation of the CCP’s programs, led by then artistic director Nicanor Tiongson.

“There was much focus on the ‘Filipinization’ of the programs of CCP, which meant giving priority to Filipino work, as well as encouraging regional Filipino work. The decentralization meant giving more substantial effort in terms of involving the regions, not only in showcasing but also in organizing local arts councils and encouraging local artists’ initiatives in different parts of the Philippines,” he adds.

Subsequently, throughout the years there has been a conscious effort to open the doors of the CCP to much broader audiences with various activities, including the National Theater Festival which involved different regional forms of theater and gave regional artists a national platform.

There were also mass-audience festivals introduced, including the Pasinaya Festival, Cinemalaya and Virgin Labfest.

“These cast a wider net not only in terms of artists who could perform here at the CCP, but also appealing to and attracting audiences who might be going to the CCP for the first time, and giving them a wide range of choices,” says Millado.

The recently-concluded Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival celebrated its 15th year with screenings in cities nationwide.

“There’s also a whole move about always looking for connections with everyday life,” says Millado. “Connections with issues or certain concerns that might be of importance to our public and our communities. We’ve responded in many ways, for example, to natural and man-made disasters – during Yolanda, during the big mudslide that happened in the north, during the war in Marawi. We made sure that we were able to mobilize artists and the arts to either help in rehabilitation, disaster preparedness, therapy that would hopefully lead to the healing of the community,” he explains.

Millado points out that resident companies like Tanghalang Pilipino tackle themes that respond to specific issues like human rights, mental health, indigenous rights, human rights, the environment and more. “The arts could be a platform for starting a dialogue on specific issues.”

Another major endeavor the CCP, the Encylopedia of Philippine Arts has recently been updated and there have been efforts by the CCP to increase its accessibility with an online version. “That was a main move in terms of documenting and embedding the invaluable and unquestionable contribution of Philippine artists to culture and heritage of the country,” Millado says.

Today, the “sanctuary of the Filipino soul” is unarguably the country’s premier arts center, throbbing with creative energy in all art forms, with diverse artists finding a venue open for expression.

Millado says, “I am most proud of the crowds that come in. I am very proud when I see young people come to the center, sprawled all over the carpet of CCP, either looking at pamphlets, studying what show to see next and buy tickets to. I am most proud when that happens because it begins to feel that CCP is now everyone’s living room of the arts. It’s a place that could become one’s real sanctuary. It’s a place where you can feel embraced by creativity, where you can restore your sense of pride.”

He adds, “When people stream out of the theater, very moved by a film, theater production or dance, I feel very proud when I see that happening because you see how an art form or an artist’s work might shape the Filipino inner being, which is a very important space. It is a space where we move in artistically, a space that we’d like to transform.”

Speaking of artistic spaces, Millado says, CCP is working on renovating its facilities in the coming years.

“Our main dream is the development of the complex. One of the urgent needs of the community is space. Space to create, space to enhance their work, space to nurture the work. We’re overflowing with content, we’re overflowing with talent, but we’re scrambling for space,” he explains.

For the past 50 years, nothing new has been built on the grounds except the main building and the now unused Folk Arts Theater.

Millado says, “It’s about time to begin to service the vision of a bustling art and culture district that is composed of key iconic art centers that will have a cineplex, will have an art center, a new people’s art stadium, a performing arts venue for big performances, a contemporary museum, even a children’s and family center. This becomes like a hub of sorts, a district that in itself is self-sustaining, but also becomes a kind of nuclear reactor that feeds that rest of the city, the rest of the country, with its energy.”


Special activities for the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Center of the Philippines


10 – Installation of Historical Marker at the CCP Main Lobby

17 – Opening of the Manila Performing Arts Summit

18-20 – Convention of the Federation of Asia Cultural

Promoters (FACP)

9-21 – Manila International Performing Arts

Market (MIPAM) x Create PH

20-22 – Conference of the Association of Asia Pacific

Performing Arts Centers (AAPPAC)

20 – 50CCP Anniversary Concert (Fundraising Gala)

21 – 50CCP Anniversary Concert (People’s Gala)

26 – Launch of Do-It-Yourself CCP Walking Tour

26-28 – Launch of Sinag: Festival of Radiance at CCP Front Lawn and Complex

27 – Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra

Konsiyerto sa Maynila


8 – Relaunch of Posterity Exhibit: 50 Years of Arts and Culture at the CCP

22, 28 & 30 – Kaisa Sa Sining: Zambales, Capiz, Ozamis

Launch of CCP Commemorative Stamp


4-8 – Kutitap Children’s Workshop turns 10 in Koronadal

9-10 – Singing the Cinema: Mga Awit ng Pinilakang Tabing

(OPM Concert with Ryan Cayabyab)

14-17 – National Tour of Bayanihan in Baguio

29 – National Tour of PPO in Iloilo


2 – National Tour of PPO in Kalibo

4-7 – Extra Virgin Labfest (VLF) in Cagayan de Oro City

9 – UST Symphony Orchestra in Nueva Ecija

12 – CCP Homecoming Fiesta

16-24 – Simbang Gabi at the Front Ramp (dawn masses)



26 – Ternocon II at the CCP

Main Theater

30-Feb 1 – Donizetti’s Lucia di

Lamermoor at the CCP Main Theater


14 – Inauguration of Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez (CCP Black Box)


5 – Gawad CCP Para Sa Sining

CCP Jazz Festival in Baguio

National Tour of Tanghalang

Pilipino’s “Mabining Mandirigma”


Banda Rito, Banda Roon: Symphonic Band Festival


2, 9 & 16 – Symphonic Sunsets at Makiling

6 – Launch of the Encyclopedia of Philippine Art (EPA) Digital Table, EPA online, EPA app

19 – Launch of 21AM (21st Century Arts Museum)

27-28 – Social Media and Arts Festival

Pocket Musical: Ryan Cayabyab and Bienvenido

Lumbera’s “Noli Me Tangere”


Book launch of CCP Outreach for its 40th anniversary

PPO in Aurora


9 - Launch of CCP Print Folio

Taga sa Panahon (Man For All Seasons)


25-30 - International University Theater Festival and



8 - Sinag: Festival of Radiance

8 – Launch of Digital Time Capsule

10-11 – Musikal!: CCP Anniversary Concert

25 - ImagineNation: Summit on Arts Education

Launch of Genesis Magazine Anniversary Edition

CCP Grand Homecoming

* 50 Shows Free to the Public and 50 Shows for 50 Pesos All Year Round - Selected Productions

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