By Dom Galeon
Photos by Noel Pabalate
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In a ceremony that’s the first of its kind, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) formally introduced Margarita Moran-Floirendo as the new chairperson of its board of trustees. Margie, as she’s more popularly known, has worked at the CCP as head of Ballet Philippines, a position she’s held for almost 10 years.
Earlier this year, in January, Margie was appointed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to the CCP’s board of trustees, which elected her as the new chairperson in April, succeeding Emily Abrera, who held the post from 2003 to 2018, the longest-ever in the history of the CCP.
“I’d never imagined that I would be in this position,” Margie tells the Manila Bulletin, adding that she’s always had a special place for the arts. “I was always dabbling in the arts. When I was living in Davao, I had an arts foundation. I was always in the scene.”
Margie looks forward to continuing the efforts of the CCP started under Emily, who will remain part of the organization’s board. These efforts include the ongoing work to build two new buildings that will be part of the CCP complex: the New Artists Theater, also called the “Black Box,” and the New Performing Arts Theater.
Aside from these, Margie says, that she’s quite eager to turn the CCP into a tourist destination, one that can be included in the itinerary of travelers. “I think what I’d like to do is to make this into a destination, and to make our talents, our arts and culture, as part of tourism,” she explains.
“When you go abroad, after looking at all the sites, you go to a Broadway show or you watch a play. And here, it’s not even part of [the tourism] brochure. People should think of the performing arts not as a charity but as an economic industry. It’s an industry because there are so many people engaged in the arts.”
Nevertheless, Margie is confident that it’s high-time for a resurgence of art. “Art is not a luxury because it is a need,” she says. “People need art to fill up their spirit. You can’t be just all technology. Art softens you as a person. People don’t realize that to be able to think critically, they need art. The more they’re exposed and they see another perspective of learning, it makes them more holistic as a person.”
Margie is also rather aware of the unique position she holds, being a former Miss Universe title holder and a familiar face for many Filipinos, to bring the arts to more people, true to the “art for everyone” vision of the CCP. “Because I am a celebrity, people know me. It’s a responsibility for me to be able to influence the public in appreciating what we have, and the talents that we have. For me that’s the bigger task,” she says. “I’m not just a chairperson—I am a chairperson plus many other things.”
“Art is everyday life,” Margie adds, explaining why she is hopeful people will have a more welcoming attitude toward the arts. “Even thinking out of the box is art. You have to have an artistic mind to be able to do critical thinking.” She explains that it is easier for Filipinos to appreciate art because “we are innately an artistic population.”