ACC on promoting the Pinoy artist

Published October 31, 2018, 7:44 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Asian Cultural Council (ACC) Philippines Program Director Teresa Rances underscored it is important to support and nurture young artists seeking to further their craft.

Anna Margarita 'Madge' Reyes (
Anna Margarita ‘Madge’ Reyes

The Philippines Fellowship Program was established to provide more opportunities for cultural exchange between the Philippines and the United States by supporting a wide range of projects in all disciplines by artists and scholars that promote the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines. The program is funded through a combination of endowment, foundation, and individual support. Annual donations allow ACC to offer educational opportunities to a wide range of Filipino artists and scholars for immersive study in the United States.

Among the grantees through the years are film director Amable “Tikoy” Aguiluz, National Artist for Music Ramon Santos, composer-conductor Chino Toledo, National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes, and former Cultural Center of the Philippines President Nestor Hardin.

“When you look out outside the country there are so many Filipino artists and though they leave the country to search for greener pastures yet part of them comes out, they are carrying with them their roots as Filipino,” she said.

Another passionate artist

Grace Nono is one of the grantees this year.

Known for her musical style based on traditional Filipino rhythms, she was born and raised in the river valley of Agusan in Northeastern Mindanao. She is a Philippine music performing artist, ethnomusicologist and scholar of Philippine shamanism, and Director of the Tao Foundation for Culture and Arts.

Grace has performed in over 60 cities and venues in over 20 countries in Asia, Europe, and North America. Grace writes about Philippine shamans’ voices in conversation with issues of gender, religion, and transnationalism. She has published two award-winning books. With her team at the Tao Foundation for Culture and Arts, they run the Agusan del Sur-School of Living Traditions.

She has spent five years in New York University to complete her doctoral studies in Ethnomusicology. Moreover, since her expertise is interdisciplinary, she had to enroll for a second masters to take up courses in Religion and Gender at Yale University. Grace received her Bachelor’s in Humanities and Master’s in Philippine Studies from the University of the Philippines, and her Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from New York University. She has received over 45 awards for her artistic, scholarly, and cultural leadership contributions.

Grace Nono (
Grace Nono

The ACC grant supported her second year studies at Yale Divinity School. As an Ethnomusicologist, she is enrolled in a Masters in Religion Program, with a focus on Women, Gender, and Sexuality.

“She told us that there were so much to learn from her teachers and because of that she was inspired to write another book,” Teresa said.

Meant to be

Another 2018 grantee is Anna Margarita “Madge” Reyes who first applied in 2016 but did not make the cut then. She is now in for dance and cinematography.

Madge began her journey at age three with the Halili Cruz School of Ballet (HCSB). She was a guest of the Philippine Ballet Theater (PBT) before accepting a full scholarship from Steps Dance Studio (2004) where she trained in classical ballet obtaining Distinction Honors from the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), modern, and jazz.

In 2007, she won the Luva Adameit Prize at the 2007 National Music Competition for Young Artists (NAMCYA), and debuted as Odette in “Swan Lake” (2008). She joined Ballet Philippines (BP) in 2009 and became Soloist after starring in “Sleeping Beauty” (2011). She has also performed with BP at the Shanghai World Exposition (2010), and at the Philippine Pavillion Gala, Salvador Dali exhibit (2011), Art Science Museum Singapore.

With a degree in Visual Communication at the University of the Philippines (UP), Madge explored cinematography for her dance film (2015 Best Thesis), “Improve,” a learning tool for Filipino contemporary dancers and choreographers. Her recent venture, “Entablado,” is a platform that merges dance and film through projection mapping and large scale installations (BGC Arts Center Festival, June 2017).

Madge during her performance (
Madge during her performance

In a separate interview with Bulletin Entertainment, she divulged how excited she is to leave on September next year and be based in New York for six months.

“This whole experience is new to me, it will be my first time to live alone abroad,” she revealed. “But for sure it’s gonna be a fun learning experience.”

She admitted she’s very happy and humble to have received the grant as “it’s a big deal to follow in the footsteps of National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes and my colleagues in dance whom I look up to.”

What are her aspirations after she finishes her grant?

“What I’m gonna learn there, definitely, I want to bring back home. I want to open up the doors to Philippines like dance filmmaking, give more awareness to local arts scene that there’s this layer in filmmaking that is not just acting, not just commercials. Dance is definitely something everyone can benefit from.”