Art is us

Published February 5, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Jules Vivas

Art is encoded in our DNA. It is innate for humans to create and appreciate. Creativity has allowed us to flourish over hundreds and thousands of years. Our imagination is a defining factor for our constant evolution. Art is the materialization of human experience, and so it can be said that art is a reflection of humanity. Art is us.

February marks National Arts Month (NAM) in the Philippines. For this week’s Panorama, the Manila Bulletin is one with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in promoting all types of art from visual arts such as painting, sculpting, and printmaking, to performance arts singing, dancing, and acting, to other versatile art forms like cooking or baking.

On this week’s cover is the newly renovated Metropolitan Theater (MET), a symbol that the local arts industry and, perhaps, the Filipino nation are on its way to revival.

Erected in 1862 within Plaza Arroceros, the grand dame of Manila was initially known as the Teatro del Principe Alfonso XII. A decade later, in 1872, the theater was razed by fire. It was rebuilt in 1931 with a new design by one of the first pensionados in Philippine architecture, Juan Arellano. The theater’s walls and roof were again destroyed during World War II. In 1978, the MET was again restored with the aid of Juan Arellano’s nephew Otolio Arellano. In 1996, however, the famous auditorium closed due to a conflict of ownership between the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Manila City Administration. Attempts were made to reinstitute the grand stage in 2010 to no avail. It was in 2015 when GSIS transferred the rights of ownership to NCCA, which had since then began MET’s rehabilitation with the help of the Manila City government and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). Under the supervision of NCCA chairman Nick Lizaso, MET has now reopened despite the pandemic with the unveiling of the multi-sectoral events of NAM with NCCA’s executives, and arts ambassador Catriona Gray.

Violinist Gilopez Kabayao and Carnival Queen of 1935 Conchita Sunico at the MET facade for an issue of the Panorama in 1978, in commemoration of the theatre’s restoration

Art is the materialization of human experience, and so it can be said that art is a reflection of humanity.

It is through the efforts of institutions such as the NCCA, artists, and all of us consumers, that art may once again flourish in this country. It is only by studying and supporting our own can we progress in arts, in culture and as a nation.