NCCA kicks off two October cultural celebrations

October is known for Halloween and Oktoberfest, foreign in origins, but also celebrated in the Philippines. The month is also filled with cultural celebrations, which highlight local heritage and artistry
— National Indigenous Peoples Month and Museums Galleries Month — led by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the prime Philippine cultural agency with a unique government and private sector participation system.

Both celebrations are momentous this year as they mark the return to holding onsite events after two years of lockdowns and restrictions on physical gatherings, one of the longest in the world, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic adversely affected these two sectors. Indigenous communities remain marginalized and underserved, things that the pandemic exacerbated.

Meanwhile, cultural spaces such as museums are among the last establishments to be allowed to open.

The NCCA recently held kick-off events for the two celebrations.

Panay Bukidnon community from Iloilo.

Dayaw: The Philippine Indigenous Peoples Festival

For more than 10 years now, the NCCA’s Subcommission on Cultural Communities and Traditional Arts has been holding Dayaw: The Philippine Indigenous Peoples Festival to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Month.

For the last two years, it was transformed into showcases posted on social media sites. This year, it will be back as an onsite event in Manila on 23 and 24 October. Its theme, “Pagtataguyod ng Pamayanang Kultural para sa Isang Matatag na Filipinas” (Upholding Cultural Communities for a Robust Philippines), highlights how indigenous groups and cultural communities still persevere and even triumph against different upheavals such as the pandemic.

According to Pablito C. Gonzales, head of the NCCA National Committee on Central Cultural Communities of SCCTA, community members in his home province of Negros Occidental approached him to tell the country that they are still here and continue to persist.

The Dayaw festival will have two main components: A showcase of traditional performances on 23 October at the Rizal Park Open-Air Auditorium, and a forum on 24 October at the Manila Metropolitan Theater. The forum will focus on the topics of recovery, safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, experiences during pandemic and community success stories.

The festival was launched on 2 October at the Rizal Park Open-Air Audiorium, which also ushered in National Indigenous Month.

The event featured performances by the Bodong Cultural Dance Troupe from Lubuagan, Kalinga, which included students trained by Manlilikha ng Bayan Alonzo Saclag; and a Panay Bukidnon group from Calinog, Iloilo, trained by Manlilikha ng Bayan Federico Caballero. It also featured Pusaka sa Maguindanao; a Talaandig Manobo group; Banda Kawayan; and Joey Ayala at ang Bagong Lumad.

A declaration of celebration was led by Dr. Abubacar M. Datumanong, head of the NCCA National Committee on Southern Cultural Communities and SCCTA; Dr. Edwin V. Antonio, head of the NCCA National Committee on Northern Cultural Communities; and Gonzalez.

Photographs by Roel Hoang Manipon for the Daily Tribune
Tarlac Art Fair exhibit.

Museums and Galleries Month

The NCCA held a kick -off ceremony for Museums and Galleries Month (MGM) on 5 October in the province of Tarlac, which is very apt as it is home province of President Corazon Aquino, who signed Presidential Proclamation 798 in 1991, creating MGM.

The program was held at the Bulwagang Kanlahi of Diwa ng Tarlac Convention Center in Tarlac City, graced by Tarlac governor Susan Yap; Danilo Rayos del Sol, head of the NCCA National Committee on Art Galleries; Dr. Jose Eleazar Bersales, head of the NCCA National Committee on Museums; Rizza Salterio of the National Museum of the Philippines; and representatives from the Central Luzon Association of Museums and Southern Luzon Associations of Museums.

The program featured the launching of Museyo; The Philippine Museums Yearbook and the opening of the second Tarlac Art Fair exhibit at the Diwa ng Tarlac Main Gallery. It also included video messages from politicians and government officials, strangely most of whom not known to be associated with culture and the arts.

The 2022 MGM celebration theme,“Embracing Uncertainty: Showcasing Solidarity, Hope, and Recovery,” aims to highlight “the binding role of museums and galleries as cultural identifiers in a rapidly changing world” and “the role of museums and galleries as forerunners of human intellectual achievements and narratives that span the past and present with a hopeful look towards the future.”

According to NCCA, “(t)his year, we encourage every institution to tell stories about uncertain times. For in these uncertain times, we find communities. In communities, we find solidarity. And it is in solidarity that we find hope for recovery.”

A major event for the month is ManilArt, which is on its 14th year and carries the theme “Forging Futures.” The art fair will be held in a hybrid fashion at the SMX Convention Center Aura in Taguig City and on the website from 19 to 23 October.

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