A month of heARTS: Philippine Arts Festival in February

Get ready for the Philippine Arts Festival this whole month of February as the nation celebrates Philippine dance, theater, cinema, literature, visual arts, music and architecture

CELEBRATION OF SPIRIT. Dancers of the Halili Dance Troupe entertain guests at the launch of the Philippine Arts Festival in Intramuros. All photos by Pia Ranada

MANILA, Philippines – It’s fitting that the Philippine Arts Festival is held every February, the month of Valentine’s Day, when human souls yearn to express their feelings and passions.

Feelings and passions are what the arts are all about. So said National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) chairman Felipe de Leon Jr during the launch of the Philippine Arts Festival last January 16 in Intramuros: “It’s the arts of the people that best mirror their feelings.”

This year’s theme for the month-long festival is “Celebrating Icons” with activities highlighting different cultural icons of the country in dance, cinema, theater, visual arts, music, literature and architecture. A committee devoted to each art form was tasked to organize activities all over the country focusing on the particular art form.

The Committee on Dance, led by Shirley Halili Cruz will be presenting “Sayaw Pinoy 2013,” the 10th of its kind, showcasing 30 performances in 30 different venues with the participation of at least 30 dance groups. This touring dance concert will put the spotlight on various dance forms like folk, ballet, hip hop and contemporary dance.

The “Sayaw Pinoy 2013” tour schedule is as follows:

February 2 – Olongapo City

February 3, 10, 24 – Luneta Park, Metro Manila

February 8-9 – Baguio City

February 15-16 – Dumaguete

February 22-24 – Zamboanga del Sur

The dance concert will also have shows at SM Malls, Star Malls and Marquee Mall in Pampanga. You can also catch it at schools like St Pedtro Poveda, Miriam College, St Paul University, Letran College and Adamson University in Metro Manila; Silliman University in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental; St Louis University in Baguio and Bicol University.

Further spotlighting the diversity of Philippine dances is a video of 25 dance “icons,” dances from different regions that have earned a special place in Philippine culture, namely: Pandanggo sa Ilaw, Pantomina, Kuratsa, Ati-Ati sa Bukid, Sinulog, Kauyaw, Tinikling, Kauyaw, Ilocano A Nasudi, Mashota, Sayaw sa Obando, Subli, Maglalatik, Pansak Yakan, Talak-Soht, Dugso, Sugo Uno, Medal Tahil, Sagayan, Pangalay, Binanog, Cayao, Bendian, Singkil, Silong sa Gading and Cariñosa.

The video will be distributed to schools as educational material by the Department of Education.

"A MIRROR OF OUR FEELINGS." NCCA Chairman Felipe de Leon Jr., flanked by other PAF organizers, explains the importance of the arts to a nation.  From left to right: Mr. Joly Tanedo, Dr. Mike Rapatan, Chairman Felipe de Leon Jr., Dr. Lutgardo Labad and Dr. Christine Ortega


Cinephiles can flock to University of the Philippines Los Baños from February 5-8 for “Cinema Rehiyon,” a free screening of 83 films, 17 of which are feature-length. According to Dr Mike Papatan, head of the Committee on Cinema, this year’s film fest will spotlight films from outside Metro Manila to explore the growing talent of film-makers there and to show life outside the capital.

A forum on Philippine Cinema featuring Roland Tolentino, Dean of UP College of Mass Communication, and Misha Annisimov, editor of Sinekultura Film Journal at the University of San Carlos Cebu, will gather Filipino filmmakers, critics and movie buffs to discuss the issues faced by the local film industry.


“Tanghal 2013” is a festival of university and community drama groups putting up a series of shows in 4 regions. Here are the major entries for each regional festival:

Tanghal Luzon (February 11-13, Bicol University)

“Byaheng Luzon” by LUSONG Arts and Culture Network Inc.

“Colonial” by SAMASINING of U.P. Los Baños

“Ang Luha ni Kumintang” by Lipa Actors Company of De La Salle University- Lipa

“Pepe’s Wall” by Arts Research & Training Institute in Southern Tagalog Inc.

“Lihim ng Hari at Luho ng Reyna” by Samu’t Sari of Colegio de San Juan de Letran-Calamba

“Silang Maraming Pangalan” by Sining Banwa Actors Company

Tanghal Mindanao (February 14-16, Xavier University and select venues in Cagayan de Oro City)

“Epicon” by Integrated Performing Arts Guild of Mindanao State University

“Alamat ng Lamok” by Teatro Guindegan of La Salle University in Ozamis City

“The Post Office” by the Xavier Stage of Xavier University

Tanghal NCR (February 18-20, Polytechnic University of the Philippines)

“TNB to the nth Degree” by Dulang Suhay of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines

“Pitong Sundang” by SinagBayan

“Ang Sistema ni Propesor Tuko” by ENTABLADO of Ateneo de Manila University

“Sintang Dalisay” by Tanghalang Ateneo of Ateneo de Manila University

“By a Lady” by Dulaang Filipino of De La Salle-Benilde University

Tanghal Visayas (February 23-25, Abatan River Ecological Theater and selected heritage sites in Bohol)

“Damgo sa Gab-i sa Tunga sang Tag-init” by Dagway Sigmahanon of Sigma Capiz

“Balay Taliambong-Karaang Balay nga Bato…Balay s Diyos…Balay sa Paghigugma” by Duag Teatrokon Negros

“Lola Masing” by Datu Lubay Center

“Pusong Juan” by the USA-Little Theater of University of San Agustin-Iloilo

Visual arts

Home-grown talent in the visual arts which include drawing, painting, ceramics and sculpture is celebrated through the Philippine Visual Arts Festival to be held this year in Pagadian City, Mindanao from February 7 to 11.

The 4-day visual feast will gather artists and enthusiasts through art workshops, tours, mural paintings, contests, art sales, a parade and lectures by practicing visual artists.

VISIONARIES. "Trans.form," an art exhibit by Aba Lluch Dalena, was held at the NCCA gallery during the Philippine Arts Festival Launch


In the realm of music, audiences will delight in the Philippine musical tradition of using gongs and bamboos to mimic the sounds of nature and express Filipino culture and traditions. Felipe de Leon Jr, NCCA Chairman and head of the Committee on Music, demonstrated to the press how carved bamboo can imitate the sound of frogs and crickets.

This year’s musical offering is “Tunog-tugan,” an international gongs and bamboo festival featuring performances by local and foreign musicians. You can catch the show in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte from February 16 to 22 and again in Maasin, Iloilo from February 23 to 26.


Writers and bookworms won’t be missing in action with “Taboan 2013: The Philippine Writers Festival.” The main event will be held in the famous writers workshop capital, Dumaguete City, specifically in Bethel Guesthouse, from February 7 to 9.

Around 100 seasoned and 50 emerging writers as well as foreign writers will be attending to talk about issues in Philippine literature. This year’s festival will put the bookmark on Visayan literature with Dr Resil B. Mojares speaking on the topic “The Nation in the Visayan Imagination.”

Rizal Boulevard’s boardwalk will be the venue for music and dance theater presentations by cultural groups that will be free to the public. Participants can also look forward to a book fair, food and cultural exhibits in the boardwalk.

Arms of the literary festival will be held in the following places:

February 22 – Pampanga

February 23-24 – Tacloban City, Leyte and Capul, Northern Samar

March 1 – Ateneo de Manila University, Metro Manila

THE COLORS OF CULTURE. The dancing at the launch was just a taste of more festivities to come


Exhibits are the main events of “Archi[types/text] 2013.” Two exhibits will bring to fore the beauty and splendor of mosques in the Philippines and the landscapes designed by Filipinos that have transformed and elevated residential gardens, parks, industrial sites and other cityscapes.

Here are the exhibit details:

February 5 – “MASJID: Jewels of Filipino Islamic Faith Exhibit” at the University of Santo Tomas

February 6 – “Hardin: Filipino Landscape Architecture in History” at Far Eastern University

Appreciation of architecture is then taken to the streets with “Padyak Manila,” a tour of historic Manila on bikes that will take place on February 2. Participants are encouraged to bring their cameras and enter their best photos in the photography contest of the tour.

If you and your friends want to join, better sign up fast because the tour will accept only a maximum of 100 participants on a first-come-first-serve basis.

For more information on sign-ups, visit their Facebook page

With all the activities and festivities lined up for the Philippine Arts Festival, it would be impossible to not participate in at least one. And because we all know what other special occasion happens on February, why not hit 2 birds with 1 stone and make a date out of it?

February promises to be not just a month for hearts, but also a month for the arts. – Rappler.com

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