By Ibarra C. Mateo
This Nov. 5, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) joins several of the world’s greatest cultural venues, such as Milan’s La Scala and New York’s Met Opera, in reopening its doors to a restricted public, a significant step in the gradual resumption of its cultural shows and film screenings after 20 months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 13, 2020, the CCP suddenly announced that all shows and events scheduled in March and April have been indefinitely suspended, following an upsurge in COVID-19 infections.
The CCP venues closure announcement came shortly before the Philippine Philharmonic Concert Series VII scheduled on March 13, 2020 and the anticipated 40th anniversary production of “Rama Hari” by the Ballet Philippines, which was to hold its gala on March 20, 2020.
The CCP’s partial reopening raises hopes that many of Manila’s shuttered art and cultural venues will follow suit as COVID-19 mobility restrictions are gradually eased and infection rates decline.
Twenty months after the CCP closed down its theatres and other venues, it “ushers in the better normal for its patrons and audiences” through the special premiere screenings of select feature and documentary films celebrating Filipino excellence, the CCP said.
Wagi: celebrating Filipino world-class excellence
Collectively known as “Wagi: A Celebration of Filipino World-Class Excellence,” all special screenings begin at 7pm, at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater), the CCP said in a statement.
For its maiden Wagi offering on Nov. 5, the CCP features “A Thousand Cuts,” a social documentary by award-winning filmmaker Ramona Diaz, to celebrate the first Nobel Peace Prize winner from the Philippines, Rappler’s CEO and president, Maria Ressa. A talkback with the film director and select media practitioners follows.
On Oct. 8, 2021, Ressa, the central figure in Diaz’s documentary, received the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, for her commitment and efforts to uphold press freedom and democracy.
From the same director behind “Imelda” (2014) and “Motherland (2017),” “A Thousand Cuts” looks into the worldwide erosion of democracy, fueled by social media disinformation campaigns. This 2020 Sundance Film Festival documentary focuses on the battle for truth and democracy.
Filipino pride and excellence in sports takes the spotlight in the special screening of GMA7 documentary “Team Pilipinas” on Nov. 26. Produced by broadcast journalist Atom Araullo, the documentary honors the athletes who represented the Philippines and bagged medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Highlighting the Philippines’ best Olympic performance since 1924, it draws attention to weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz who is the first Filipino to bring home an Olympic gold medal, boxer Nesthy Petecio who is the first Filipino woman boxer to win an Olympic (silver) medal, boxer Carlo Paalam who won the silver in the men’s flyweight division, and boxer Eumir Marcial who brought home a bronze medal in the men’s middleweight division.
Wagi season 2022
Wagi opens the new year with the scheduled Jan. 29 celebration of world-class acting talent with the Philippine premiere of “On The Job: The Missing 8,” a film that brought the Coppa Volpi (Volpi Cup) for Best Actor to actor John Arcilla.
At the 78th Venice Film Festival, Arcilla bagged the award for his performance as a journalist investigating the mysterious disappearance of his colleagues, and how it relates to a prisoner who is temporarily freed to carry out assassinations (portrayed by actor Dennis Trillo). The award-winning film is the sequel to the 2013 film of the same title.
Directed by Erik Matti, the special screening is co-presented with the Embassy of Italy in Manila. There will be a talkback after the screening.
CCP health protocols
Following the new guidelines on the government-imposed lockdowns, the CCP will open with 30 per cent-audience capacity.
“Only audiences who are fully vaccinated will be allowed inside the theaters. They need to present their vaccination card/ID at the entrance, fill up a health declaration form or the Stay Safe app, and present their tickets/scannable QR Codes on mobile,” the CCP said.
CCP guards will do routine temperature checks before members of the audience are allowed to enter the CCP building.
With the goal of making viewing inside the CCP theatres as safe as possible, the CCP has been rolling out safety measures on its premises in preparation for the re-opening.
Aside from the mandated safety protocols such as wearing mask/face shields inside venues and physical distancing, the CCP has installed portable air hepa filters and automatic alcohol dispensers within the building, installed social distancing markers, adapted contactless ticketing, and reduced chokepoints.
Entrances and exits will be limited and controlled to reduce the risk of viral transmission.
For more information, visit the CCP website (www.culturalcenter.gov.ph). Follow the official CCP social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.
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