The Cultural Center of the Philippines will pay tribute to its founder, former First Lady Imelda Marcos (in photo), on September 8, in celebrating the CCP's 40th anniversary. Associate artistic director for theater operations, Aruel Yonzon, stated defensively, "Klaro naman sa 'min na hindi naman namin pinaparangalan ‘yong tao sa kabuuan ng pagkatao niya. Pinaparangalan namin ‘yong tao para sa kontribusyon niya sa sining at kultura."

Photo: Noel Orsal


This year marks the 40th founding anniversary of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City. The year-round celebration kicks off on February 1, at the CCP Pasinaya Open House Festival, which coincides with National Arts Month.


A special presentation to the press took place last January 14, at the CCP Main Theater.  The Center's calendar of events for 2009 and its new logo with the slogan "Life Begins Anew" were launched during the event.


"The CCP for the last four decades has helped discover, nurture and support Filipino artists. I think that's one of the major achievements of the CCP," president and artistic director Nestor Jardin proudly said during the  launching.


He pointed out that the institution's various projects through the years have "helped create an outstanding body of original Filipino work that speak of us as a nation and has helped define our national identity."


IMELDIFIC TRIBUTE. In line with this year's celebration, the CCP pays homage to its founder whose vision undeniably paved the way for Filipino culture and the arts to flourish both here and abroad. The Cultural Center of the Philippines was the brainchild of former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos. It was instituted in 1966 through Executive Order No. 30 and formally inaugurated on September 8, 1969.


"For this year, we're not only inviting her, we're giving her a tribute," announced Mr. Jardin, who initially tried to withhold the information.


The current CCP heads are fully aware that their decision to recognize the widow of former President Ferdinand Marcos may not sit well with non-government organizations, particularly among artists who fought against Marcos's martial law through their art.


Mr. Jardin addressed the issue head on: "You cannot ignore the fact that this was her vision, this was her idea. We're looking at it from an institutional point of view. Hindi maganda para sa amin na hindi bigyan ng parangal ‘yong gumawa nito."


The special tribute will take place on September 8, the 4oth anniversary of the CCP.


"It's a whole day event capped by an eight o' clock gala here at the Main Theater. Then on September 11, we'll do a special tribute to her, featuring the artists whom she supported in the past, mostly musicians."


HOMAGE IS NOT POLITICAL. In an interview with Aruel Yonzon, CCP‘s associate artistic director for theater operations, he said that Mrs. Marcos has an idea of the forthcoming tribute.


"Parang alam niya but not personally, like directly. Alex Cortez has been tapped to direct the event, may title na nga siya, e, ‘Dahil Sa Yo' being her [Imelda] favorite Filipino folk song ditty. Si Alex Cortez is a close friend of the Marcoses even from way back, nung mga bata pa sila nila Irene [daughter of the Marcoses] so, I supposed she has a hint but she's not directly informed about it. Pero we're having talks and coordination with the children."


Yonzon stressed that the CCP is paying tribute to its founder based solely on her contribution and vision to help Filipino arts and culture. Imelda and her family's political image is a non-factor at this point. On the issue that the CCP was built on the people's taxes, he argued:


"Unang-unang sasabihin ng mga kritiko niya hindi naman kanya ‘yan e, pondo naman ng bayan ang ginamit sa pagpapatayo ng gusali. But we have to acknowledge the fact that to a certain degree her administration, or the Marcoses, were some sort of a visionary [couple] for having thought of putting up, say a cultural center, or in which case let's talk about the Philippine High School for the Arts, The National Arts Center in Mt. Makiling.


"The same thing with the Cultural Center, if they did not come up with this building or with this institution there'll be no CCP right now. As far as CCP is concerned, ganun ‘yong contribution niya and we're benefiting from that now. So, for whatever misgivings or for whatever ‘crimes' they may have had, what we're saying is we pay tribute to what they contributed to the arts as far as the culture and arts sector is concerned. Medyo isang-tabi natin ‘yong [political], you know, nobody's perfect anyway."