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Cultural Center of the Philippines

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Built on land reclaimed from Manila Bay and opened in 1969, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is a large complex with theaters, exhibition galleries, an ethnographic museum (Museo ng Kalinangang), a contemporary art museum (Museo ng Sinig), and more. It was designed by Leandro Locsin, a top-ranking Filipino architect.

Cultural Center of the Philippines - general view (image)

General View of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. (Photo: Ramon F Velasquez.)

The CCP: its foundation, vision and mission

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is a national center for the arts (especially the performing arts) in the Philippine Islands.

The CCP operates a series of venues on a 62 hectare (150 acre) stretch of land overlooking Manila Bay in Pasay City and Manila. These include performance venues (such as the National Theater, the Little Theater and the Folk Arts Theater), museums (such as the CCP Museum) and exhibition venues (such as the Bulwagang Juan Luna or Juna Luna Gallery).

Since its foundation a little over forty years ago the CCP has been presenting theater, music, dance, visual arts, literary events, films and design from all over the Philippines and all over the world.

The CCP is a government-owned corporation. Its vision, according the official CCP website, is built on the assumption that "art matters to every Filipino".

Its mission is set out as follows:

"[to] be the leading institution for arts and culture in the Philippines by promoting artistic excellence and nurturing the broadest publics to participate in art making and appreciation".

The CCP was established by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1966 and in the beginning it was governed by a Board of Directors with the First Lady Imelda Marcos elected by the Board to preside as chairperson.


On 12 March 1966 President Ferdinand Marcos issued his Presidential Proclamation No. 20 which permitted work to start on the CCP project. Marcos followed this up with his Executive Order No. 60 which formally established the CCP and appointed a Board of Directors. Shortly after that the Board elected Mrs Imelda Marcos as chair. This authorized her to raise and manage funds for the project.

In an interview with Millet Mananquil (Philippine Star , 6 September 2009), Mrs Marcos reports that she made the following statement in 1966 to the American businessman and philanthropist John Rockefeller III:

"On the first year, I’ll cover the soil. On the second year, I’ll drive the pile. On the third year, the building will rise. On the fourth year, the curtain will rise."

The project cost of the development ballooned from an original PHP 15 million in 1966 to PHP 50 million (around $US 35 million) in 1969. Mrs Marcos received PHP 500,000 from the proceeds of the Manila premiere of Flower Drum Song and PHP 90,000 from the Philippine-American Cultural Foundation.

To address the shortfall she commandeered a sum from a U.S. Congress war damages fund for education and also negotiated numerous private donations from weathy Filipinos and businesses.

She and the CCP Board also took out a $US 7 million loan for the project from the Philippines’s National Investment Development Corporation. Senator Ninoy Aquino and others among the political opposition criticized this last move, pointing out that this was the use of public funds without congressional approval. According to Gerald Lico's book Edifice Complex (p. 178), Aquino also argued that the CCP was being built for the elite rather than for the ordinary people of the Philipiines: "You do not develop culture by putting up a 50-million building on the bay..."

The CCP’s first major building – the Theater of Performing Arts (now: ______ ) – was opened in September 1969, just three days after Pres. Marcos’s birthday and the occasion was marked by an inaugural festival that lasted a full three months. Attending guests included foreign dignitaries such as Governor Ronald Reagan of California and his wife Nancy (on behalf of the President of the United States).

In the early 1970s the CCP project was in debt. This problem was finally "solved" after Pres. Marcos’s declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines in September 1972. Pres. Marcos signed Proclamation No. 15 in which trust monies were appropriated and a tax raised. The proclamation also extended the CCP’s role to that of promoting and developing the arts throughout the whole of the Philippines (rather than just operating for the benefit of those living in Manila).

During the Marcos era the following CCP buildings were erected:

- Theater of Performing Arts (now known as the Tanghalang Pambansa or National Theater)
- Folk Arts Theater (Tanghalang Balagtas)
- Philippines International Convention Center (PICC)
- Philippine Plaza Hotel
- Manila Film Center
- Coconut Palace

In 1986 the Marcos era came to an end. Under President Corazon Aquino a period of democratization, decentralization and Filipinization occurred with the CCP’s objectives being rewritten as follows: "[the pursuit of] a Filipino national culture evolving with and for the people".

Part of the democratization process has included local arts councils being set up across the country and the CCP Artist Exchange Program being instituted to give opportunities to regional groups of artists and individual artists. Various journals and monographs have also been published.

According to the CCP, it currently has nine resident companies:

- Ballet Philippines (BP)
- Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company
- National Music Competition for Young Artists (NAMCYA)
- Philippine Ballet Theater,
- Philippine Madrigal Singers (UPMS)
- Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO)
- Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group (ROFG)
- Tanghalang Pilipino (or Philippine Theater)
- UST Symphony Orchestra

Further Reading
Cultural Center of the Philippines - Official site

http://tanghalangpambansa.tumblr.com/ - Close look at the National Theater

http://culturalcenterphils.tumblr.com/ - More details on the CCP with many photos

http://popesvernie.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/international-style/ - Discussion of the CCP's architecture

Lico, Gerald (2003). Edifice Complex: Power, Myth and Marcos State Architecture. Quezon City, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University Press. ISBN 971-550-435-3 ].

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Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)

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