Cinemalaya fans, be ready with your face masks, tickets

By Ibarra C. Mateo

Cinemalaya fans have a great reason to rejoice.

The Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, or simply Cinemalaya, the country’s biggest independent film festival, resumes its onsite and in-real-life screenings at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and other participating cinemas and venues.

Spearheaded by the CCP and the Cinemalaya Foundation, the 18th edition of Cinemalaya features 11 full-length films and 12 short features in competition.

The festival runs from Aug. 5 to 14 at various CCP venues.

For the past two years, during the Covid19 pandemic, Cinemalaya anchored its offerings via online screenings of competing short features and exhibition films.

This year’s full-length films in competition were the finalists selected for the 2020 and 2021 editions of the film festival. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, they could not finish their filming, organizers said.

Full-length films in competition

The 11 full-length films vying for the 2022 coveted Balanghai trophies are the following: “12 Weeks” by Anna Isabelle Matutina; “Angkas” by Rain Yamson; “Bakit ‘Di Mo Sabihin?” by Real S. Florido; “Batsoy” by Ronald Espinosa Batallones; “Blue Room” by Ma-an L. Asuncion-Dagńalan; “Bula Sa Langit” by Sheenly Gener; “Ginhawa” by Christian Paolo Lat; “Kaluskos” by Roman S. Perez, Jr.; “Kargo” by TM Malones; “Retirada” by Milo Alto Paz and Cynthia Cruz-Paz; and “The Baseball Player” by Carlo Obispo.

“12 Weeks” by Anna Isabelle Matutina
“Angkas” by Rain Yamson
“Bakit ‘Di Mo Sabihin?” by Real S. Florido
“Batsoy” by Ronald Espinosa Batallones
“Blue Room” by Ma-an L. Asuncion-Dagńalan

Full-length films in competition

The 11 full-length films vying for the 2022 coveted Balanghai trophies are the following: “12 Weeks” by Anna Isabelle Matutina; “Angkas” by Rain Yamson; “Bakit ‘Di Mo Sabihin?” by Real S. Florido; “Batsoy” by Ronald Espinosa Batallones; “Blue Room” by Ma-an L. Asuncion-Dagńalan; “Bula Sa Langit” by Sheenly Gener; “Ginhawa” by Christian Paolo Lat; “Kaluskos” by Roman S. Perez, Jr.; “Kargo” by TM Malones; “Retirada” by Milo Alto Paz and Cynthia Cruz-Paz; and “The Baseball Player” by Carlo Obispo.

“Ginhawa” by Christian Paolo Lat
“Kaluskos” by Roman S. Perez, Jr.
“Kargo” by TM Malones
“Retirada” by Milo Alto Paz and Cynthia Cruz-Paz
“The Baseball Player” by Carlo Obispo

Short films in competition

For the short feature main competition, the finalists are: “Ampangabagat nin Talakba ha Likol” by Maria Estela Paiso; “Black Rainbow” by Zig Dulay; “City of Flowers” by Xeph Suarez; “Dikit” by Gabriela Serrano; “Distance” by Dexter Paul de Jesus; “Duwa-Duwa” by Nena Jana Achacoso; “Kwits” by Raz de la Torre; “Mata Kang Busay” by Nińo B. Maldecir and Cypher John T. Gayorgor; “Mga Handum nga Nasulat sa Baras” by Arlie Sweet Sumagaysay and Richard Jeroui Salvadico; “See You, George!” by Mark Moneda; “Si Oddie” by Maria Kydylee Torato; and “Roundtrip to Happiness” by Claudia Fernando.

The competing films will also be shown in select partner cinemas nationwide from Aug. 10 to 17. After that, Cinemalaya goes to the regions, with screenings in selected communities from Aug. 22 to 29.

Then, Cinemalaya will have an online run from Oct. 17 to 31 via the CCP Vimeo account.

Gawad Alternatibo

Gawad Alternatibo

A major component of the film festival, the “Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video,” considered as the longest-running independent film competition of its kind in the Southeast Asian region, will once again harvest the best films which will compete in various categories such as Short Feature / Narrative, Experimental, Documentary and Animation.

Finalists from the different categories will be screened from Aug. 6 to 8 at the CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde.

The Gawad Alternatibo awarding is on Aug. 13, while the Cinemalaya awards night is on Aug. 14 at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).

Since 2005, Cinemalaya has been supporting and promoting the production of Filipino full-feature independent films and short films. Many of these films have won awards in local and international competitions and festivals.

Through the annual festival, Cinemalaya has showcased over 1,000 works by independent filmmakers including full feature films, shorts, documentaries, Filipino film classics, and art films. For more details, check out the CCP and Cinemalaya websites. Follow the CCP and Cinemalaya official social media accounts in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. ##

#cinemalaya #cinemalaya2022 #indie #indiefilms #cinema #cine #ccp #gawadalternatibo #visualarts

VLF 2022 breathes life into theater amid COVID19 pandemic

After two years of online performances and streaming of archived works, the Virgin Labfest (VLF), the “festival of untried, untested, and unstaged plays,” returns to live stage with 12 new works from June 16 to 26, at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater).

For its 17th edition, VLF follows the theme “Hinga” to “underline the need to breathe, to be present, and feel alive.” 

“After being isolated in our houses, we now focus on the importance of community — the need to share space and time and revel in one another’s presence — and the urgency of theater and performance,” Tess Jamias, VLF festival director, said.

Jamias’ co-festival director in this year’s VLF is Marco Viaña, TP associate director.

Aside from marking its return to THB, its original home, VLF 17 reintroduces the practice of grouping plays into sets under shared themes and other commonalities.

Following the VLF 17 sets of plays:

“Life is Full of Surprises”

Set A: “Life is Full of Surprises” revolves around life’s unexpected turns. This set features: Eljay Castro Deldoc’s “Walang Bago sa Dulang Ito”; Ma. Cecilia de la Rosa’s “Mga Balo;” and Bibeth Orteza’s “Bituing Marikit.”

Directed by J. William Herbert Sigmund Go and Tess Jamias, “Walang Bago sa Dulang Ito” follows the pursuit of a woman in understanding myriapods and how this would lead to bewildering encounters and finding herself preyed on by those in positions of power.

In “Mga Balo,” a writer tries to decide on the future of the play she is writing. She returns to her material and seeks the help of the widows who rightfully own the story. The play is directed by Adrienne Vergara.

Under the direction of Carlos Siguion-Reyna, “Bituing Marikit” tells the death of a man’s second wife and how much of a “bituing marikit” his wife was to their boys. The play is to honor Mel Chionglo, film and theater director.

“Life is Strange Fiction”

Three plays show that fiction is stranger than life in Set B: “Life is Strange Fiction.” The plays are:  BJ Crisostomo’s “Absurdo: Event Day;” Jerry O’Hara’s “Liberation”; and Juan Ekis’ “‘Nay May Dala Akong Pancit.”

In “Absurdo: Event Day,” in between working as project coordinators at a massive end of the world party and dealing with absurd client demands, two co-workers must come to grips if their jobs have any ultimate meaning before time runs outs. Directed by Mara Agleham, “Absurdo: Event Day” is part of a trilogy dealing with the craziness of the Philippine event industry.

Directed by Dennis Marasigan, “Liberation” is the story of three Japanese soldiers left behind to engage the enemy at whatever cost in a desperate effort and put up pocket resistance in southern districts of Manila in 1945. How would they act in the face of death?

In “‘Nay May Dala Akong Pancit,” two siblings are stuck in a metaphysical loop of a Pinoy soap opera trope. Every time the older brother comes home with pancit, their mother dies. The siblings must now find a way to escape the loop and save their mother once and for all. Karl Alexis Jingco directs the play.

“Life Choices”

Stories of characters who are at a crossroad find their way to Set C: “Life Choices,” which include Mikaela Regis’ “Unica Hijas;” Andrew Bonifacio Clete’s “Punks Not Dead;” and Anthony Kim Vergara’s “Student’s Handbook.” 

In “Unica Hijas,” two girls are called into the principal’s office after they were caught by a nun in an almost-kiss. With less than an hour left until their future is decided, the two are forced to confront each other, their past, present, and their own selves. Pat Valera directs.

Directed by Roobak Valle, “Punks Not Dead” is about a mother who complains to her son’s teacher regarding a discriminating item. As the characters argue about the item, the play shows what’s permanently inked with prejudice.

“Student’s Handbook,” directed by Erika Estacio, shows what happened when a few pioneer students were caught violating some of the institution’s most outrageous regulations. The rules were put into question and things started getting ridiculously clairvoyant.

“School of Life”

Plays set in schools and involve life lessons that must be learned and unlearned are grouped together in Set D: “School of Life.” They are: Dustin Celestino’s “Fermata”; Ryan Machado’s “Huling Haraya Nina Ischia at Emeteria;” and George Vail Kabristante’s “Bienvenuta Al Lido Di Venezia.”

Directed by Guelan Luarca, “Fermata” follows the son of a dead but celebrated musician as he investigates the truth about his father.

Directed by Regina De Vera, “Huling Haraya Nina Ischia at Emeteria” shows the endearing moment between a mother and her daughter as they prepare for the daughter’s departure. As the conversation gets deeper, the daughter realizes that this might indeed be their last evening together.

In “Bienvenuta Al Lido Di Venezia,” a couple who works as Filipino domestic helpers for a wealthy contessa with Alzheimer’s conspire to poison their employer. But things go awry. The play is co-directed by Nanding Josef and Antonette Go.

And more

VLF 17 will have a new component, Theater Talks, a curated forum series on theater and creative processes.

To be livestreamed during the festival, these talks feature theater practitioners who will share their know-how on production works and take in questions from the audience to elicit a lively dialogue on contemporary theater-making.

The festival brings back its mainstay components such as the VLF Fellowship Program, with mentor Glenn Sevilla Mas and director Dennis Marasigan, and the VLF Playwrights Fair under the direction of Rody Vera and coordination by Beverly Siy.

For more information, visit the CCP website ( Follow the official CCP social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for latest updates.

#VLF17 #VLF2022 #Hinga #CCP #TP #Theater #LiveTheater

Personal remittances from overseas Filipinos in March 2022 reached US$2.888 billion

Personal remittances from overseas Filipinos in March 2022 reached US$2.888 billion, 3.1 percent higher than the US$2.801 billion posted in the same month last year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas announced.

This resulted in the growth of the cumulative personal remittances by 2.3 percent to US$8.646 billion in the first quarter of 2022 from US$8.454 billion recorded in the comparable period in 2021.

The increase in personal remittances in March was due to remittances sent by 1) land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more, which grew by 3.7 percent to US$2.195 billion from US$2.116 billion in the same month last year; and 2) sea- and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year, which increased by 1.4 percent to US$625 million from US$616 million a year ago.

Similarly, cash remittances coursed through banks grew by 3.2 percent to US$2.594 billion in March 2022 from US$2.514 billion registered in the same month in 2021. The expansion in cash remittances was due to the growth in receipts from land-based and sea-based workers, which increased by 3.7 percent (to US$2.021 billion from US$1.948 billion) and 1.3 percent (to US$573 million from US$566 million), respectively.

On a year-to-date basis, cash remittances amounted to US$7.771. billion in the first quarter of 2022, higher by 2.4 percent than the year-ago level of US$7.593 billion.

The growth in cash remittances from the US, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia contributed largely to the increase in remittances in the first quarter of 2022.

In terms of country sources, the US registered the highest share of overall remittances at 41.5 percent in Q1 2022, followed by Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Taiwan, Qatar, and Malaysia.

The combined remittances from these top ten countries accounted for 79.1 percent of total cash remittances during the period.


OFW, remittance, BSP

Viva Europa 2022 celebrates PH-EU partnership, friendship

Are you ready to savor a delectable European cultural experience, via online and onsite events, showcasing the best European poetry, visual arts, music, film, and architecture?

This year, Viva Europa 2022, highlights the partnership, friendship, and the shared cultural values between the EU and the Philippines.

The cultural festival started on May 9, coinciding with the commemoration of Europe Day. The date marks the anniversary of the historic “Schuman Declaration” that started the process of European integration.

In its present form, this integration is the European Union, “a union of 27 European countries founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and respect for human rights,” an EU statement said.

European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Véron said “in the Philippines, Europe Day celebrations are an opportunity to signify the partnership and friendship between the European Union and the Philippines.”

Viva Europa 2021 is the result of the cooperation between the EU Delegation to the Philippines, the embassies of Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Instituto Cervantes de Manila, Ireland, France, Alliance Francaise de Manille, Italy through the Philippine-Italian Association, Hungary, Austria, Poland, the University of Santo Tomas, and Far Eastern University.

List of activities for Viva Europa 2022

Euro-Pinoy Visual Arts Exhibition: “Ebb and Flow: Return to Nature”

European and Filipino artists show their advocacy for “water” and marine resources preservation through paintings and sculpture. This exhibition is at the Yuchengco Museum, Makati City, from May 20 to 31, 2022. The exhibition coincides with the EU Green Week (May 30 – June 5) and the lead-up to the UN Ocean’s Conference (Lisbon, June 27 – July 1st 2022).

Curated by César Caballero, the exhibition is participated in by Louis Dumont (Belgium), René Reitier (Germany), César Caballero (Spain), Henri Eteve (France), Viviana Riccelli (Italy), Radha Makitalo (Finland), Jeanette Kamphuis (Sweden), Romania Diaz (Philippines and Italy), Fara Manuel Nolasco, Kizel Cotiw-an and Ramon Diaz (Philippines).

Bersong Euro-Pinoy

Get caught in the passion, the romance and fire of European and Filipino poetry on May 27, 2022 from 4 to 6 pm. Participating this year are Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Ireland, France, Italy, Austria, and Poland. Filipino poets from the University of Santo Tomas will read their own works.

This year, La Punta della Lingua poetry festival from Italy will again join the Bersong Euro-Pinoy poetry recital. Poems to be read adhere to the theme of “togetherness and hope.” Bersong Euro-Pinoy will be streamed live at the EU Delegation to the Philippines’ Facebook page.

Musica FEUropa Choral Festival

Musica FEUropa is the choral festival of the Far Eastern University, which will be held in the afternoons of May 14, 21, and 28, 2022. Watch the choirs perform famous music from folk to classical from both the EU and the Philippines during choral concerts.

Architectural heritage as expression of local communities’ identity (Italy)

On May 18, at 5 pm, the Philippine-Italian Association and Politecnico di Milano will hold a free-of-charge webinar on “architectural heritage as expression of local communities’ identity,” with Professor Nora Lombardini as speaker.

More information at 18/architectura-heritage

Pasolini’s centennial – screening of Accattone by Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italy)

On May 21, the UP Diliman-Film Institute, with the support of the Embassy of Italy in Manila and in partnership with the Philippine-Italian Association, will reopen its Cine Adarna. The reopening also marks the centennial of the great Pier Paolo Pasolini.

The program features the outdoor screening – free of charge – of “Accatone” (The Scrounger), the groundbreaking film entirely directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini.

The screening will be preceded by a “Poetic Conversation: Pasolini and Me. A Shared Moment in Film and Poetry” through which Professor Nick Deocampo, filmmaker and film historian, will discuss the influence of Pasolini in shaping the aesthetic of Deocampo’s own works.

Night of Ideas (France)

On May 26, 2022, the “Night of Ideas” will bring together cultural institutions and film professionals from France, Italy, Romania, and the Philippines to exchange ideas and talk about how the arts, cinema, and society survived the pandemic and continue to develop in the context of the new environment.

The panelists will converge at the Ayala Museum and the event will be livestreamed from 7 to 9 pm on Facebook Live.

Last year, at the height of the pandemic, the “Night of Ideas” in the Philippines looked into how the global crisis brought us together, and specifically how cycling became an alternative mode of transport for a population in quarantine and deprived of public transportation.

Flute Concert (Spain)

The Instituto de Cervantes of Manila held a flute concert on May 3 in the context of the exhibition “From the First Circumnavigation to the Manila Galleon: Music around the Iberian routes” at the National Museum. ##

CCP to open doors to theater-goers soon

CCP Board of Trustees members, led by Chairperson Margie Moran-Floirendo, senior executive officials led by President Arsenio J. Lizaso, National Artist for Dance Alice G. Reyes and ballet dancers pose after the CCP Institutional Press Conference held on May 4, 2022.

By Ibarra C. Mateo

In full force, after more than two years of being closed due to the Covid19 pandemic, the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ board of trustees, senior executive officials, and employees welcomed the local media on May 4 to announce the CCP’s re-opening to the public soon.

“For the past two years, the CCP venues were shut down, but we have not stopped working. We’ve been running non-stop for the past years, continuing our mandate to bring arts closer to the people and provide educational and cultural contents through various digital platforms,” Margie Moran-Floirendo, chairperson of the CCP Board of Trustees, said.

In her welcome remarks, Moran-Floirendo said: “In the past years, we innovated. We adapted. We evolved.”

“2022 will be a year for recovery. It will be a year when we march on to better normal and create a better future for our nation. We don’t know the long-term effects of the pandemic to the arts communities and our audiences. But this is the year we soldier on,” she said.

During the height of the pandemic, the CCP board initiated projects, such as the CCP Professional Dance support program, which assisted displaced dancers in classical and modern ballet.

In 2021, the support program provided 31 scholarships to 14 professional dancers and choreographers in Metro Manila and the regions, as well as job opportunities for displaced independent video-film artists, crew, and theater practitioners.

“New choreographies were created, classical ballet pieces were re-staged. We were able to produce a video series, ‘Dance On!,’ that showcased and premiered these dances online. We also had a live performance featuring these professional dancers, titled ‘A Christmas Celebration’,” she said.

CCP facade in the day time. PHOTO BY RODEL VALIENTE

CCP Professional Dance support program

To extend support to more artists, Moran-Floirendo announced that the CCP Professional Dance support program is being renamed and expanded.

“We rebranded it to Professional Artists Support Program, and we hope to sustain the artistic excellence and livelihood of professional artists in the Philippines. (not only) professional dancers, but other artists as well,” she said.

The CCP Innovation Grants have been awarded to encourage creative initiatives and collaborations among arts and cultural organizations. Seven art companies received grants, namely Ballet Manila, Casa San Miguel, FilDocs, Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Colleges, Marbel, Sipat Lawin, and The Performance Laboratory and Tuldok Animation Studios.


CCP Innovation Grants

Through the CCP Innovation Grants, the seven grantees have come up with alternative ways to produce new works by merging various art disciplines and distributing contents using digital techologies.

“We also discovered upcoming young musicians through the Kanto Canta, an online brand competition. We received submissions from all over the country. We pre-selected 45 entries, before shortlisting the 15 finalists,” she said.

The songs from the winners from Cagayan province, La Union, Las Pinas City, Lanao del Norte and Taguig City, along with the rest of the finalists, are now available on various music platforms. The grand winner, Letrang Norte, was part of the holiday album released by Widescope Entertainment, the CCP partner for this competition.

As to the forthcoming programs and productions, Moran-Floirendo announced the rolling out of “Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang,” a project which aims to preserve literary arts through animation and multimedia arts.

“We expand our programs to younger audience, in support of the holistic development of children through the use of music and the arts. We plan to launch a program on Indigenous Lullabies to preserve these lullabies and bring awareness to our traditional songs,” she said.

Moran-Floirendo said the CCP has a series of activities geared toward developing instructional films on Philippine folk dances for arts appreciation, teacher training and learning resources. This particular series will cover dance’s history, costume, music, movement and the total performance.

“We hope to promote awareness of Filipino folk dances through social media platforms,” she said.

“This is definitely going to be a very busy year,” she said.

Appeal to media for support

For his part, CCP President Arsenio J. Lizaso said

in spite of the limitations and strict protocols, the CCP “managed to find ways to ensure that our programs and events continue, either in a hybrid set up or through online platforms.”

“We are eager to undertake our mission not only to make art matter, but to make art work in the life of the Filipino,” Lizaso said, in his address.

“Tulungan ninyo po kami na maipaalam sa mga manonood na bukas na muli ang CCP,” he appealed to journalists present.

Ongoing CCP exhibits

The public can view the following exhibits for free: an exhibit featuring the works of Fernando Amorsolo, created using Lego at the Little Theater Lobby and the Kaingin art installation by Jinggoy Buensuceso, at the CCP Front Lawn. This installation is a part of the Earth Month celebration.

New CCP Black Box Theater

Chris B. Millado, CCP vice president and artistic director, said per year the center was closed, it lost PhP 34-35 million in revenues from ticket sales, and about 800,000 theater-goers have been unable to access the CCP venues.

Millado also announced during the press launch events headlining the much-anticipated opening of the New CCP Black Box Theater.

For the inaugural season of the New CCP Black Box Theater, Millado said the following productions have been programmed: “Anak Datu,” a production based on the life and writings of National Artist for Sculpture Abdulmari Imao; experimental works-collaborations with an unnamed theater company to be directed by Tanghalang Pilipino’s Founding Artistic Director Felix Nonon Padilla; and a Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra chamber music series.

Millado emphasized that a chamber music series has been included in the inaugural program of the New Black Box Theater “to try out the acoustic quality of the new theater.” ##

Virgin LabFest 2021 showcases ‘best’ of the past 15 years


The annual Virgin LabFest (VLF) returns from Nov. 24 to Dec. 5, streaming on the Facebook pages of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, VLF, and Tanghalang Pilipino.

Award-winning playwright Rody Vera, of the Writers’ Bloc, one of the VLF convenors, said “the showing of the best works of the past 15 years of VLF is one of the highlights of the 2021 edition.”

Vera told a online press conference: “It would be impossible to revisit these 15 best works if we would have live performances. Fortunately, the CCP has all the video recordings of VLF plays.”

The current COVID19 situation prevented the VLF from returning to live stage performance.

Hosted annually by the CCP, Writers’ Bloc, and Tanghalang Pilipino, the VLF 2021 focuses on education, with its festival components divided into “Fair, Fellowship, and Flashback.”

The Playwrights Fair features conversations with playwrights from all over the country scheduled at 8:00 pm. The Fair recognizes the works and life of the late artists / playwrights who passed away during this time of pandemic.

The Playwrights Fair also features current playwrights, their challenges, efforts, and experiences through virtual platforms (and how they) cope with the situation the pandemic brings to the theater community, the CCP said in a statement.

The Writing Fellowship Program is held from Nov. 16 to Dec. 5 under the tutelage of award- winning playwright Glenn Sevilla Mas.

The Culminating Activity, to be streamed for public viewing on Dec. 5, will be directed by Dennis Marasigan.


This year, the festival takes on “Yakap” (embrace) as its catchphrase. 

“This year, the festival strives to embrace the artistic community as it strives to survive the terrible pandemic; embrace new possibilities and new narratives emboldened by the times and embrace the audience with works that have provided comfort and enjoyment in the past,” the CCP said. 

Established in 2005, the Virgin Labfest is the premier playwrights’ festival in the country producing “untried, untested, and unstaged works.” It is known for programming and providing support for the development of plays that “dare define and defy the times.”

During the early stages of the global pandemic in 20202, the Virgin Labfest spearheaded processes and new possibilities of staging and presenting performances for audiences across the Philippines and the World. It was a dream to bring the works onstage and document the works for audiences to watch online this year.

For more information, follow VLF on CCP Social Media platforms, or visit

#VLF2021 #VLF #Yakap #CCP #Theater

CCP reopens on Nov. 5, limited film screenings resume

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 ( Follow the official CCP social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.

#CCP #Wagi #MariaRessa #RamonaDiaz #AThousandCuts #Arts #Culture

Early ‘Christmas gift’: Virgin LabFest 16 this November

Ibarra C, Mateo

VLF 2020 poster. CCP Image

A Virgin LabFest in November? Why not. Anything is possible in these days of existential crisis.

So, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the Writers’ Bloc, and Tanghalang Pilipino, hosts of 2021 Virgin Labfest (VLF), are giving VLF fans an early “Christmas gift” by deciding to hold the festival from Nov. 25 to Dec. 5, via digital streaming again. Pre-pandemic, the VLF was held in the merry months of May and June, in the lead up to the Cinemalaya film festival frenzy. 

Now on its 16th year, the festival this year will be streamed at the CCP, VLF, and Tanghalang Pilipino Facebook pages.

Choosing to focus on education, the festival components are “Fair, Fellowship, and Flashback.”

The Fellowship Writing Program will be conducted from Nov. 16 to Dec. 5 under the tutelage of award-winning playwright Glenn Sevilla Mas. The culminating activity, which will be streamed on Dec. 5, will be directed by Dennis Marasigan.

The Playwrights Fair will be held from Nov. 24 to Dec. 5, featuring conversations with playwrights from all over the country.  As part of the Fair, the 4th Edition of the VLF Anthology and Elemental, a book of plays by women playwrights will be launched.

For 2021, the festival takes on the theme of “Yakap” (embrace) as its catchphrase. “The festival strives to embrace the artistic community as it strives to survive the terrible pandemic; embrace new possibilities. and new narratives emboldened by the times and embrace the audience with works that have provided comfort and enjoyment in the past,” the CCP said. 

Established in 2005, the Virgin Labfest is the “premier playwrights festival in the country producing untried, untested, and unstaged works.”  It is known for programming and providing support for the development of plays that “dare define and defy the times.”

In 2020, during the early months of the pandemic, the Virgin Labfest explored the possibility of staging and presenting performances for Filipino audiences and beyond the archipelago.

“It was a dream to bring the works onstage and document the works for audiences to watch online this year. The organizers chose to prioritize the safety of performance-makers and make use of the time to pause, reflect, look back, and move forward,” the CCP said. 

For more information, follow VLF on CCP Social Media platforms, or visit

#CCP #VLF #TP #Theater #Actors #Performances

Showcase Filipino narratives abroad: Filipino books as ‘export products’

By Ibarra C. Mateo

NBDB Image

Several days ago, National Book Development Board (NBDB) Chairman Dante Francis Ang II sounded an extremely exciting business proposition for the local book publishing industry and its allied enterprises.

Ang II, who is also the president and CEO of The Manila Times Publishing Corp., challenged Filipino book writers and people who work with them such as editors, illustrators, and artists, among others, to work on the possibility of exporting Filipino books.

During a virtual event hosted by the NBDB, Ang said international events such as the 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair must be viewed by Filipino book writers and publishers as avenues to promote local books as possible export products.

For decades, Filipino entertainers, maritime professionals, chefs, health and allied professionals, and athletes have shown the world that Filipinos could “conquer” the international stage. Maybe, it is time for Filipino book writers and publishers to take the center stage in international arenas such as the Frankfurt Book Fair.

“We wanted to sell rights. In other words, we wanted to have concrete economic returns for the Philippines,” Ang said. “My dream is to use these platforms, the international book fairs, as platforms to somehow change the mindset in the Philippines that books can be an export product.”

“Who better else to tell our story than Filipinos themselves,” Ang said.

By participating in international book fairs such as Frankfurt, Ang said “what we are showcasing are not only published products, but also other stakeholders in the industry: writers, editors, and artists.”

“We hope that by our participation in Frankfurt Book Fair and other international events, these people will also gain recognition. And perhaps, (seal) contracts that they would benefit from,” he said.

NBDB Image

For the 6th time, the Philippines is joining the Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankfurter Buchmesse), considered as “the largest and oldest trade fair for books and content”. The 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair runs Oct. 20-24.

The Philippine-NBDB physical booth and online displays features books from the 19th Avenida, Adarna House, Anvil Publishing, Ateneo de Manila University Press, Milfores Publishing, University of the Philippines Press, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, and Komiket to name a few.

Echoing Ang’s suggestion, Charisse Aquino-Tugade, NBDB executive director, told the virtual forum that they are pushing to sell rights to Philippine-published books during the 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair.

At least 100 Filipino book titles are to be showcased physically and online during the 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair, Aquino-Tugade said.

House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, who delivered remarks in the virtual forum, said the Philippines must work “relentlessly” to be the featured “guest of honor’ in the 2025 Frankfurt Book Fair. She said she supports the Philippine bid to become the “guest of honor.”

In 2015, Indonesia became the first Southeast Asian country to be featured as Frankfurt Book Fair “guest of honor.”

“Guest of honor of the Frankfurt Book Fair means that we will have the biggest pavilion and we will be the center of the Frankfurt Book Fair,” Legarda said. This will immensely be beneficial to the local book industry, she said.

“Myth, Magic, and the City: Reclaiming our narrative” is the theme of the Philippine booth this year. Award-winning designer Jowee Alviar, of Team Manila, designed the booth.

“The design weaves together images from Philippine mythology and textures from ethnolinguistic designs and patterns. The effect is a series of panels, each one serving as a piece in the narrative creating a rich tapestry of Philippine culture and identity,” the NBDB said. ##

#NBDB #MythMagicAndCities #FrankfurtBookFair #Philippines #Books

CCP’s ‘Dance On’ keeps ballet dancers on their toes during pandemic

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) has initiated a special program to support professional dance in the Philippines as the COVID19 pandemic continues to ravage the live performance and entertainment sector, with no clear end.

Called “CCP Professional Dance Support Program,” it aims to limit and mitigate the most likely deterioration of skills, techniques, and performance excellence of the Filipino dancers, while providing them with continued artistic employment and discouraging their shift to other occupations due to absence or reduced opportunities in dance, the CCP said in an announcement.

The artists of the CCP Professional Dance Support Program will perform new and classical works choreographed and restaged by Filipino choreographers and regisseurs, mentored by National Artist for Dance, Alice Reyes, Alden Lugnasin, and Nonoy Froilan, as their culminating activity.

The artists of the CCP Professional Dance Support Program are composed of artists of the CCP Dance Workshop and artists courtesy of Ballet Manila and Philippine Ballet Theater as well as regional dance artists.

Collectively known as “Dance On!,” the culminating performances can be viewed via the CCP Facebook page and YouTube channel starting October 3. With the aim to showcase Filipino talents in dance and choreography as well as expand and share Filipino dance culture to a wider audience, the program is shot specifically for the enjoyment of digital viewing.

Showcasing classical ballet with varied dance styles, the program allows never-before-seen works and reimagined classics to be accessed by not only patrons of the arts but also those who may experience it for the first time via online streaming.

Victor Ursabia restages “Le Corsaire,” after the classic choreographies by Joseph Mazilier and Marius Petipa; while Eugene Obille does “Grand Pas de Quatre” following after Jules Perrot.

Erl Emmanuel Sorilla, mentored by Alden Lugnasin, poses the question how one does truly live in “Musa.” Inspired by wabi-sabi, Patrick John Rebullida, with the mentorship of Nonoy Froilan, presents “Light, at the end of.”

Mentored by Alice Reyes, John Ababon explores the intricacies of love in “Inlababo,” and the ups and downs of life in “In The Midst Of Overcoming.”

Ronelson Yadao choreographs and performs “Headspace”; Biag Gaongen explores the unconventional use of point shoes in “Re-Form.” Both artists are also mentored by Alice Reyes.

Lester Reguindin finds inspiration from the speech of young environmental activist Greta Thunberg at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 for “Now”; while JM Cabling reimagines the mind of a quiet person in “I Wanna Say Something.”

Bringing to life the choreographies are artists of the CCP Dance Workshop, John Ababon, Al Frederick Abraham, Sarah Alejandro, EJ Arisola, Luigie Barrera, Ricmar Bayoneta, Danilo Dayo Jr., Monica Gana, Bonifacio Guerrero Jr., Gianna Hervas, Victor Maguad, Eugene Obille, Justine Orande, Ace Polias, Lester Reguindin, Katrene San Miguel, Stephanie Santiago, Karla Santos, Erl Sorilla, Joanne Tangalin, Jessa Tangalin, and Ronelson Yadao, as well as Kazier Policarpio, Alexis Piel, Gladys Baybayan and Ma. Regina Magbitang, courtesy of Philippine Ballet Theatre, and Rissa Camaclang and Nicole Barroso courtesy of Ballet Manila.

For more information, check out the CCP website (www.cultural and follow the official CCP social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The CCP Professional Dance Support Program participants and staff follow strict protocols to ensure the health and safety of all involved. ##

CCP Photos

#CCP #Dance #AliceReyes #Ballet