by KRISTOFER PURNELL
Image by Roc Verdera

“It’s harvest time in the arts of the Filipino.” That’s how the ’ (NCCA) executive director Al Ryan Alejandre described the anticipation surrounding the commission’s plans for February as the country celebrates National Arts Month (NAM).

For 19 years now, the Philippines has been observing February as National Arts Month as prescribed in the 1991 Presidential Proclamation 683, and the NCCA has partnered with private and government agencies to organize month-long events highlighting the artistic brilliance of Filipinos.

National Arts Month 2020 bears the theme “Ani ng Sining” or “Harvest or the Arts,” which Alejandre attributes to the joy and hardship of harvest season and looking forward to another round of planting. The festivities under “Ani ng Sining” will continue to emphasize the ample artistic activities in the Philippines with local artists and cultural workers’
passion. “[It is a time] to contemplate  our responsibility as artists, and as Filipinos, to cultivate the arts,” Alejandre also says.

Guiding the NCCA in the celebrations is its newly appointed chairman Nick Lizaso, who considers himself a “disciple of the arts, and a farmer of culture” because of his travels around the country for his work as president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Lizaso stresses that music, and the arts as a whole, “is not an exclusive thing, it belongs to everyone” and that “we are rich in culture, we shouldn’t be afraid to bring it around.”

Harvest Season - HARVEST SEASON

NAMSTERS Nick Lizaso (left photo) will be overseeing his first National Arts Month as the new chairman of the NCCA, and will have the company of (right photo, from L-R) Julie Anne San Jose, Catriona Gray, and KZ Tandingan

Joining the National Arts Months 2020 celebrations as arts ambassador is 2018 Miss Universe Catriona Gray, who herself achieved a Master Certificate in Music Theory at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and is well known for incorporating indigenous textiles and materials in her outfits. Lizaso jokes that he counts himself fortunate to work with another Miss Universe in pushing the cultivation of the arts—at CCP he works alongside chairperson Margie Moran-Floirendo, who was crowned Miss Universe in 1973. Accompanying Gray as ambassadors, this time for music, are Julie Anne San Jose and KZ Tandingan, the latter continuing her presence having been an ambassador as well during the 2019 National Arts Month.

Ani ng Sining” begins with opening programs all around the country, starting with the Visayas leg hosted by Ormoc City, Leyte, on Jan. 31. The next day, the National Capital Region hosted several workshops, performances, and a short film screening during its opening program at Rizal Park in Manila. For its Luzon leg, there will be a program in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, on Feb. 4, while Mindanao will be in Tangub, Misamis Occidental, on Feb. 15.

Exhibits, workshops, shows, lectures, tours, and more will make up the events lined up for “Ani ng Sining” covering the seven fields of the arts—architecture, cinema, dance, literary arts, music, dramatic, arts, and visual arts—bearing their own themes in line with National Arts Month 2020.

Highlighting the month-long celebration is the annual Ani ng Dangal awarding ceremonies on Feb. 24, which recognizes artists who have earned international awards and accolades in the past year as a way of honoring those who have honored the country.

January has finally ended, and now it’s time for another round of harvesting and cultivation for arts and culture.

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