Center For Culture and Arts

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By Noel G. Tulabut

My Palm Notes

Saturday, February 1, 2014


NOBODY owns the title, yet.

Yep, no particular city, town, province has ever been designated as the center of arts and culture in the Philippines. This, as far as renowned master choreographer and artist par excellance Douglas Nierras could recall.
Mabalacat City could emerge and make a rightful claim, given its string of activities and victories in cultural presentations and artistic performances. If I must say it as early as now, Douglas Nierras sees the potential of Mabalacat through the passion shown and expressed by its people and leaders towards arts and culture.

Actually, he made mention of the vacant title when Mayor Boking and June Magbalot, prime mover of arts and cultural programs in Mabalacat, expressed hope that the city would try to achieve becoming a center for such in Pampanga and Central Luzon.

“That title is not owned yet by any place in the country as far as I could remember,” Nierras told Mabalacat officials and teachers who attended his three-day choreography clinic at Xevera.

Director and composer Andy Alviz who was quoted by Mayor Marino Morales to have uttered this only recently share the same observation.

You see, MabalacatCity which represented Pampanga, recently emerged as the national champion for second straight year in the Dulansangan, a street- and free-dance competition in the Fiesta Republika, an annual event in Malolos City organized by Mayor Christian Natividad. The activity commemorates the declaration of the very first Philippine republic.

Pampanga’s 10-minute dance interpretation on the stage included an elaborate choreography, real-life costumes, and 30-feet props where Aetas, clad in their red lion clothes, climbed, crawled and danced. On the streets of Malolos, hundreds of people cheered for Mabalacatcontigent, picking them up as hands down winners.

The 200-strong delegation has the Power Mabalacat City Center of Culture and Arts (PMCCA) in its very core. They served as the lead dancers. This group, under the tutelage of June, underwent a nine-day rigorous training conducted also by Douglas Nierras Power Dance (DNPD). Two PMCCA members Carl Reyes and Carl Ursal, in return, with overall direction from June, served as the lead choreographers for the winning presentation number in Malolos.

***

Douglas Nierras and his team of about 15 dancers were recently in Mabalacat for that choreography clinic.

I tell you, it is not so often that someone (whether from the province or even in huge cities) would be able to get a booking with DNPD. That is not the case with this man who gets invited to perform all over the globe and in various Philippine cities throughout the year.

I tell you too that despite Douglas being known as “terror” mentor (as seen in the TV show Starstruck), the teachers painstakingly but gladly stayed for the three-day workshop that ate up their weekends and late nights.

Such time could have been spent with their families but I think they did not mind the little sacrifice with the benefit of being tutored and receiving a certificate from a multi-awarded artist like Douglas.

And this is one reason why he has agreed to conduct dance workshop again in Mabalacat. He sees the passion for culture and arts shown in its people.

By the way, this second workshop in two years is in preparation of Caragan Festival that is set on February 28. The event is in honor of aeta ancestry of the town as led by Chieftain Caragan during the olden days.

***

With the victory in Malolos and the devotion of PMCCA to their craft and the city, Vice Mayor Christian Halili told this writer that the City Council has adopted resolution that recognizes and commends this group which is made up of dedicated individuals.

Also, the City Council has also approved a resolution making Douglas Nierras as an adopted son of Mabalacat City.

Aside from Caragan Festival, Dulansangan and all that comes in between, the northernmost Pampanga town is known for staging the most elaborate and grandiose annual pageant in Miss Mabalacat City.

On February 1, it will stage a carefully planned pageant that will depict the story of a village girl who will become a princess. A 9 by 32 giant LED wall that will project media interactivity between 3D animation and live actors and performers on stage will complement it.
Not to forget of course are the 14 lovely ladies who will vie for the coveted crown.

***

Fiesta Republika, an annual cultural event, was organized by this city’s Mayor Christian Natividad to make aware the Filipinos about the significance of the declaration of the first Philippine Republic here on January 23, 1899.

Mayor Natividad has been staging this event as part of his advocacy to continue to inculcate in today’s youth the role of Malolos Republic in shaping the nation’s history. He has also been pushing since 2010 the Aquino government and both houses of Congress to declare January 23 a national holiday to honor then President Emilio Aguinaldo’s declaration of the Malolos Republic at the Barasoain Church here.

I think it makes a lot of sense to make January 23 a national holiday, given its significance in our nation’s history and cultural heritage.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on February 01, 2014.

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