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Catriona Gray Opens NCCA’s ‘Ani ng Sining,’ the Luzon Leg of the 2020 Philippine Arts Festival

By KARL R. De MESA
All photos courtesy of the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts

NCCA Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa City, Palawan—2018 Miss Universe Catriona Gray was on hand to sound the opening gong for the “Ani ng Sining,” the Luzon leg of National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ (NCCA) Arts Festival at the Puerto Princesa City Coliseum last Feb. 4.

Gray was declared the NCCA Arts ambassador for the year 2020 and the 26-year-old beauty queen was buoyant when she took the stage for her opening speech in Palawan.

“The last time I was in Puerto Princesa City was in 2018. Bb Universe pa lang ako noon. I am so honored to be back as the 2020 Arts ambassador. Some may ask, why is it important to advocate for the Filipino arts?” Catriona added. “When I competed and wanted to represent our country, I also wanted to tell a story and I believe that the arts enable us to tell a story of all those who came before us, and of who we are, how we express ourselves, what we hold dear. Going into Miss Universe I wanted to tell about how strong, how unique our Filipino talent is. I did that through our textiles, through LuzViMinda in our national costume.”

This year, the festival’s theme is “SiKaTugYaw”—an acronym combining Sining, Kanta, Tugtog, and Sayaw, pertaining to the main features of the events, celebrating the diversity of Filipino culture through a dance, drama, literary arts, and music.

Ceasar Sammy Magbanua, resident culture advocate from Palawan, pointed out that it was an honor for their province to host the Luzon leg of the arts festival.

“Palawan has always been an arts hub and in the past decade we’ve been attracting a lot of migrants from all over the country,” said Magbanua. “We particularly like to take care of the culture of our indigenous groups, to preserve their arts, and help them pass it on to the next generation.”

The opening ceremonies were also marked by the “Gawad Parangal Para sa Mga Alagad ng Sining Palawan.” These awards were given to the province’s outstanding culture and arts advocates. They included journalist Yasmin Arquiza, author of seminal environmental nonfiction book Tales From Tubbataha, visual arts patron and restaurateur Luzerino “KaLui” Oliva of local arts gallery and restaurant KaLui’s, and multi-awarded filmmaker and documentarist Aureus Solito, known for Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros and Busong.

“I’ve seen the evolution of the arts scene here since the 1990s and one thing I love about it is they’re going more personal with their works now. It’s to the benefit of the point of view of their upbringing and their location,” said Solito, who also goes by his Palawan tribal name Kanakan-Balintagos. “They’re showing the indigenous, the flora and fauna, rather than Western influence. Through digital technology, like what’s happening in cinema, they’ve been fusing the old and the new and it’s enabling them to make better works. I’ve never seen it this sophisticated for a long time.”

Renditions of native dances were performed by dance troupes from local schools like the Palawan State University and the Palawan Technical College Inc. Throughout the night, Ervin Lumawag, former tenor soloist of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, also serenaded the crowd with classical opera hits like “No Puede Ser,” as well as soaring covers of recent songs from movies like “Never Enough” (The Greatest Showman) and “Evermore” (Beauty and the Beast). NCCA’s executive director Al Ryan Alejandre was thrilled at the reception of the city residents, seeing a full to bursting coliseum and the roar of the crowd as Gray walked into the venue for the grand opening.

“I was very amazed at the reception here in Puerto Princesa,” said Alejandre. “Ang gusto talaga naming mangyari sa NCCA ay kahit saang lupalop ng Pilipinas, especially from the far flung areas, we want to help artists who are struggling and yet deserve more of the spotlight. We can’t reach out to just a few people. Many still think dismissively that the arts are still just for the rich. So let’s put visual works in malls, hold performances where people go. Sobrang daming magagaling sa atin ayun lang hindi nabibigyan ng chance or exposure. So this Arts Month is a way to collaborate with them through the LGUs.”

Also on hand at the opening ceremonies were Puerto Princesa Vice Mayor Maria Nancy M. Socrates and city councilor Matthew K. Mendoza.

The SiKaTugYaw Festival runs from Feb. 4 to 28. | fb.com/sikatugyaw



Source: Manila Bulletin

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