Newly elected NCCA head seeks to promote arts among the youth

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THE NEWLY elected National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) chair, Victorino “Ino” Mapa Manalo, wants to focus on promoting arts and culture among the youth during his three-year term.

Mr. Manalo was elected to his position by the NCCA Board of Commissioners — composed of 15 representatives from other government agencies, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, plus the NCCA sub commission heads — on Dec. 29, 2022, replacing Rene Escalante. Mr. Manalo’s term began on Jan. 1 and will end on Dec. 31, 2025.

Mr. Manalo has served as the museum director at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila as well as at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He previously worked with the Ayala Foundation, Inc. in developing programs for the community museum of the parish of his hometown of Dauis, Bohol. Mr. Manalo earned his master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University, and a post graduate certificate for Archival Studies from Hongkong University. Among other honors, he received a Carlos Palanca Award for Literature.

For 2023, the NCCA has P500,215,000 in the National Endowment Fund for Culture and the Arts (NEFCA) and P273,663,000 from the Annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Topping the new chairman’s priorities is enhancing the promotion of NCCA programs to the youth.

“I will try my best will dedicate myself to making the work of the NCCA more well known,” Mr. Manalo told BusinessWorld in an online interview.

“I will concentrate, not so much making new activities but draw out from already existing plans and activities ways to integrate or reach to the youth,” he said.

Mr. Manalo said that it will be implemented by “creating more educational materials [using] very contemporary media” to tell “the stories and narratives of our heritage and historic sites and cultural activities.”

His other focus is to implement community arts-based activities. “This is because a lot of artistic activity in the Philippines takes place on the community level,” he said.

As for the Metropolitan Theater, Mr. Manalo hopes to follow former NCCA Chairperson Virgilio S. Almario’s intention that the theater champion Philippine-based performances and programs.

Since the theater’s reopening in Dec. 2021, it has hosted screenings of classic Filipino films, NCCA programs, shows by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) and Alice Reyes Dance Philippines (ARDP), and was the venue of the musical Lapu-Lapu: Ang Datu ng Mactan and entertainment award shows.

“We are working on putting together a program for the theater and a lot of those programs are Philippine based,” he said, “We will try to do performances outside of the theater as well.”

Included in the theater’s programs for this year are performances by the resident companies of the Cultural Center of the Philippines following the three-year closure of its main building for renovations.

This week, the NCCA will launch its activities for the National Arts Month in February. This year’s celebration carries the theme “Ani ng Sining: Bunga ng Galing” (Harvest of Art: Fruit of Greatness).

“Despite the hardships and despite the challenges that we’ve had to face in the last two years because of COVID-19, sa pamamagitan ng sining, may ani ka pa rin (through the arts, you still have a harvest),” Mr. Manalo said.

The annual celebration includes activities from the various NCCA subcommittees — from visual arts, literature, and performing arts, as well as programs for the indigenous communities.

Mr. Manalo will serve as the concurrent Executive Director of the National Archives of the Philippines, alongside his new designation as NCCA Chairperson.

The National Archives, he said, is currently planning to expand its operations nationwide. The agency currently has operations in Manila, Cebu, and Davao.

“We would like to have regional centers and these regional centers will have similar retrieval and facilities. We will have archival centers or store and storage centers in different regions, providing access to records,” Mr. Manalo said.

The National Archives is also working on its electronic records management program for the digitalization of its programs. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman