MANILA -- This year’s University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Arts and Culture Festival, with the theme "Engkwentro," commemorates historic encounters, namely the 50th year of the Diliman Commune, and the fifth centenary of the triumph at the Battle of Mactan and the Christianization of the Philippines.
In an interview with radio station DZUP, Dr. Cecilia de la Paz, director of the UP Diliman Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts (UP OICA) and project leader of the festival, shared how the team arrived at this year’s themes, specifically the 50th anniversary of the Diliman Commune.
“We are now operating on the idea of recuperating history. Naglista na kami ng mahahalagang historical moments sa bansa, specifically UP Diliman. We need to recognize iyong mga naganap sa ating komunidad. Apparent na ang Diliman Commune ang kailangang unang i-recognize na kasaysayan. May mga nasulat na kasi diyan pero hindi pa rin ganoong kaorganized, and we wish na sa 50th anniversary, sa commemoration, maaayos unang-una 'yung mga archival resources, ma-update. Kasi minsan ang memory ay nagbabago rin through time. Kaya 50 years after, habang nandiyan pa ang mga resource persons ay sila ay ma-interview at makita ang kanilang bagong, kung nagbago man, pananaw kung ano ang nangyari 50 years ago,” she said.
De la Paz likewise mentioned how current research projects being undertaken by their team will be converted into artistic practice, programs, exhibits, and webinars.
“We don’t need to borrow historical moments from another culture, another nation. Kasi ang ating kasaysayan ay malaman na at kailangang bigyang puwang ng pag-aaral,” She stressed.
UP OICA program development associate and co-project leader Asst. Prof. Bryan Viray emphasized the value of retelling historic encounters such as the ones comprising the festival’s theme.
“Napakahalaga na gunitain. Dahil iyong mga nagsasabi sa post, nababasa ko, ‘Ay, bakit ganyan ang stand mo, buhay ka na ba noon?’ Ang sagot ko the more na kailangan ito na palitawin, ang mga naratibong ito para hindi malimutan. May power doon sa muling pagsasalaysay. I think magandang sandata iyon. Ang muli’t muling pagsasalaysay, ano man ang petsa’t panahon. Kailangan pauli’t ulit na marinig at mapagusapan,” Viray said.
When asked how the other two encounters tie up with the Diliman Commune, de la Paz said, “Mahalaga na isama ang pagtatagpo ng Pilipinas at kanluran. Heto 'yung tinatawag natin na post-colonial. Paano titingnan iyong pagtatagpo sa perspektibo ng katutubo na lumaban sa mga mananakop. Paano mo titingnan iyong pagtatagpo na iyon bilang isang transformative event. Sa mga series of webinars heto ang tatalakayin ng Departments of History at Anthropology.”
Over the years, the annual university-wide event has evolved from being a week-long, then to a month-long affair, and to what is now a festival spanning three months. It will be officially launched on February 1, with activities until April 2021.
Viray said that it’s a good sign that the festival is now a months-long event. “Biruin mo noon isang linggo, isang buwan, ngayon maraming buwan na nire-recognize, napagmamalaki, at nasho-showcase ng UP ang kagalingan at kontribusyon (ng UP) sa 'creative making' ng buong bansa,” he said.
What makes the festival this year a little more challenging to mount is the persistent threat of the COVID-19 virus. The organizers had to make adjustments and shift most of the project components, exhibits included, online.
“Napansin (namin) na nage-evolve at iyong online platform ay isang venue na tagapagbigay ng bagong puwang. May mga nawala, hindi natin maipagkakaila iyon. Pero may mga bagong art forms na nillikha na nasa online platform,” de la Paz said.
“Hindi rason ang pandemic para tumigil ang paglikha. Parang mas kailangan pa siya at this point in time," she stressed. "Mahalaga ang soul, ang kaluluwa na inaalagaan mo siya. Hindi lang ang pisikal na katawan,. pero inaalagaan mo rin 'yung kaluluwa at diwa ng bawat isa at ng isang komunidad. We are so isolated now, so we need something that would bind us. 'Yung mayroon kang spirit of sharing of a common experience. Art and cultural activities would be the platform.”
She added that the festival has become a venue to empower student-artist scholars to create new ways of expressing creative imagination in contemporary times, which is vital in strengthening the Arts and Humanities programs of UP Diliman.
To commemorate these three historic convergences, de la Paz and her OICA team prepared an extensive and exciting lineup of activities that recognize how these encounters are opportunities for lively discourse, further studies, and reflections in relation to the culture, the arts, and our identity as a Filipino people.
The festival’s activities are interdisciplinary, and are a call to each and every Filipino to reflect on the ideas, concepts, and cultural and material exchanges that were born out of these critical junctures of world history through the culture and the arts. This is so that there is a sustained casting of a critical eye on social and historical issues together with a lively and thriving intellectual discourse among researchers, the academe, and the public.
The following are the different project components of this year’s UPD Arts and Culture Festival:
- Barikada Singkwenta: Pagpupuhay at Paggunita (a late afternoon vigil). February 1, 5:30 p.m., Quezon Hall/University Avenue
- ENGKWENTRO: Sa(la)ysay ng Diliman Commune (A Virtual Exhibition). February 1
- enKWENTrO: Mga Kwento ng Engkwentro (A Public Art Installation Project). February 1
- Talastasan sa Kasaysayan: Serye ng mga Webinar. February 2 – April 23
- Kwentong Mulat: The Diliman Commune Virtual Pasyal. February 9-28
- Saysay ng Salaysay: Paggunita sa Pagtatagpo ng Puwersa at Pamayanan. February 17 – April 14
- The Boxer Codex Reimagined: A Re-Reviewing and Re-Creating of the Illustrations of Filipinos in the Codex through Digitally Generated Images. February 26
- Obras Arquitectonicas en el Ultramar: Arquitectura Mestiza and the Built Environment in the Philippines. Online Exhibition, March 5; Webinar, March 5-26 (every Friday)
- Of Crosses and Culture: An Anthropological Look at 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines (An Online Forum), March 10, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- PAGDIRIWANG 2: Christianity and Popular Deviotion – An Online International Conference on Folklore and Heritage. March 17-18