No pandemic can stop creativity

No face-to-face. No live performances. The death knell for theater groups and artists was ominous. Erehwon Center for the Arts — which thrive on giving young talents the learnings and opportunities to sing, dance, stage shows, and feature their artwork before audiences that include their peers, professionals and international audiences — faced similar challenges.

Many of the talents are young public school students, aspiring performers, or professionals seeking sustainable big breaks.

Unlike most art galleries and exhibition areas, the Center is situated in the middle of a poor community, reachable through a network of narrow streets from Commonwealth Avenue where Waze can ably guide you.

True to its character as the art center for the masses, it is open to tours for public school children, who have often been invited to shows, where, along with their teachers, they have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Both aspiring and established mainstay performers and artists have a say in the Erehwon Arts Council. The Center’s expansive music and dance studios are rehearsal spaces for both amateur and professionals. The atelier has witnessed exhibits of affordable art, children’s art, and those of well-known artists. The celebrated Vladivostok dancers have performed in Erehwon. Together with the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Erehwon Center is only one of two Philippine institutions accredited by the Asia Pacific Performing Arts Center based in Singapore.

Given the challenges posed by the pandemic, creative solutions and IoT saved the day as was born in 2021.

Erehwon’s first series of films sought to renew the interest of the public, both local and international, in the saga of Philippine heroes. The first is the short film, Young Rizal and the Secret of the Lamp (Ang Batang Rizal at ang Lihim ng Liwanag), which highlights the discernment of the young boy who foresees his mission. The film has English subtitles and can be enjoyed by local or foreign viewers.

The other offering is, Ang Paglapastangan sa Supremo (The Betrayal of Andres Bonifacio). It shows the historic and dramatic confrontation at the Tejeros Convention between Bonifacio and Daniel Tirona of the Magdalo faction of Emilio Aguinaldo.

Erehwon Films also produced “The Filipino Music Legends” series, an initiative to help preserve the legacies of major Philippine music influencers whose creations have endured the test of times.

Erehwon keeps them relevant to broad and cross-generational audiences.

Among the Filipino music legends who have performed and have been filmed are folk rock artist, composer, poet, musician and visual artist Heber Bartolome; pioneer rock musician, song writer, band mentor Mike Hanopol; jazz icon, highly acclaimed musician Tots Tolentino; actor, director, host, producer, and composer Cesar Montano; singer, composer, environmentalist and proponent of Philippine ethnic and alternative music Joey Ayala. “Filipino Music Legends” is a continuing program held at the Behn Cervantes The Roofdeck.

Said Roofdeck is another story in itself. The entryway to the sunset-ceilinged, open-air event place at the fourth floor of Erehwon Center is lorded over by a life-sized sculpture of the late pioneer theater actor Behn Cervantes. Behn gave inspiration to the philosophy behind Erehwon: “It should not be a cold, lifeless museum of exhibits, it should thrive with the liveliness of artists who feel comfortable to hang out, build up their camaraderie, learn and share experiences from one another.” His sculpture was done by artist Jose “Al” Giroy, who also did Nick Joaquin’s iconic image toasting beer, and Heber Bartolome’s image strumming his favorite guitar.

A protegee of Napoleon Abueva and a mainstay of Erehwon, Giroy took the challenge of the Center and sculpted the memorial of the SAF 44 now at the Philippine National Police Academy in Cavite.

Erehwon’s 10 visual artists, on the other hand, painted the 26-foot-long mural, known as “Tagaligtas 44,” as an added tribute to the fallen SAF heroes.

Erehwon Center for the Arts has shown that no pandemic can stop creativity from flourishing. The arts will always find its way!

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