HIMAMAYLAN CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Leading artists who came here, and officials of this southern Negros city agree that this year’s celebration of Arts Month of the National Commission for the Culture and Arts (NCCA) is not simply going through the motions but carries a deeper meaning amid fear and death brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And it carries a lot of symbolism.
For one, it would be the first time that a hybrid presentation fusing dance, indigenous music, and film was prepared to be streamed live over a digital platform, DNX News, to avoid clustering of people.
It would be the first time, too, that local artists and the community of this former provincial capital were mobilized in bringing concepts to life for the celebration on Monday, 15 February 2021, Alejandro “Bundo” Deoma, adviser for special concerns to Mayor Raymund Tongson, told DNX News.
Deoma, himself a theater artist, added the Monday activity also signaled in a way the start of another first: the cultural mapping here that is expected to start March, this year.
This city, Deoma said, would be the first to have a cultural mapping in Negros island.
Leading theater artist Ishmael “Maeng” Java explained that a cultural mapping, in essence, is a government activity through the NCCA that seeks to bring out the “identity of a place, people and culture.”
Tongson, for his part, said today’s celebration is not simply an activity but a “statement” by the local government and Himamaylanons that “We will not give up” despite the pandemic that has brought even giant economies to heel.
“That’s how we have been doing things, as one city, as a community,” Tongson added.