UPLB creates artists endowment fund

UPLB creates artists endowment fund
By Walter Ang
April 12, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

As part of its centennial celebrations, University of the Philippines-Los BaƱos has created the Centennial Artists Endowment Fund "to sustain our efforts to uplift the Filipino culture and fire-up artistic talents among our young students and faculty," said university chancellor Luis Rey Velasco. "As the envisioned center for culture and the arts in the Southern Tagalog region, UPLB has been nurturing its artists?seeking to provide the enabling environment for their talents to bloom."

The fund is actually part of an umbrella fund, UPLB Centennial Fund, that "allows donors to become involved in creating a legacy of distinctive excellence in higher education," he said. "UPLB seeks to raise funds for and to undertake projects that will contribute to nation-building by producing high quality, well-rounded graduates; generating relevant and responsive technologies and knowledge products; and promoting Filipino culture and arts."

Aside from an allocation for artists, the fund also has allocations for faculty development; scholarships and student welfare; sports; and modernization projects; among others.

Related activities have been ongoing since last year to commemorate the centenary of UPLB's College of Agriculture, its founding unit, "hence, marking the university's centennial," said Velasco. "2010 marks the 100th year of UPLB's College of Forestry and Natural Resources and marks a century of Mt. Makiling's service as UP's and the country's first outdoor natural resources laboratory."

Mt. Makiling is one of the focal points in the university's efforts to generate seed money for the artists endowment fund. In their fundraising play of "Teginef," a Tagalog adaptation of August Strindberg's "A Dream Play," "the story is set in Makiling's cloudscapes, down to Laguna de Bay and back again to Makiling," said director Dennis Gupa. In Emmanuel Dumlao's translation, a central character in Strindberg's play is now Maria Makiling, who "journeys to Earth ? and learns first-hand how hard it is to live without hurting oneself and others."

Dumlao and Gupa collaborated in last year's twinbill production of John Millington Synge's "Riders to the Sea" and its Tagalog translation set in Alabat, Quezon, "Sa Sinapupunan ng Laot." The production was selected to be showcased in the recently concluded "Tanghal!," the fourth national university and college theater festival organized by the National Commission of the Culture and Arts.

"Teginef is appropriate for UPLB's Centennial celebration as the university examines and explores what it can be in its next century as a national university," said Gupa. "Teginef is the Teruray word for dreams. Dreams, dreaming, and dream work gives us the freedom to go beyond limitations in imagining the many and complex possibilities of the future. In the world of a dream, anything is possible."

Teginef was part of a series of productions under UPLB's Special Centennial Performances Committee, which has been staging shows under a "cyclical" theme based on agriculture: seed, planting, growth, and harvest. "Teginef is the `replanting' part of the cycle; it concludes this cycle and starts a new one," said Gupa. "It signifies a `replanting' of seeds for the university's future as it looks forward to bigger and better harvests."

Cross-pollination is also a theme Gupa incorporated into the production, not just in staging methods, but also in human resources. "Faculty members, students, and staff of the university's different colleges and offices have been part of these performances, making this series of productions a way to create and build a community that understands and appreciates each other's uniqueness through the arts," he said.

Teginef featured student organizations UPLB Thespian Circle (celebrating its 20th anniversary), Harmonya: The String Ensemble of UPLB, and UPLB Filipiniana Dance Troupe. It also included exchange students from different Asian countries.

Angel Dayao handled music composition and orchestration. Collaborators included theater artists from University of the Philippines-Diliman such as Ice Idanan, video designer; Jeremy Dela Cruz, choreographer; Carlo Pagunaling, costume designer; and Meliton Roxas, lights designer. Dulaang UP alum and Greece-based Ohm David designed the set.

With the help of his collaborators, Gupa envisioned a "mutlilingual, mutlicultural, and mutlimedia" production that incorporates "Filipino myths, traditional Asian dances and ethnic sounds."

"The text threshes out various contemporary issues like food security, poverty, and environmental degradation, among others," he said. "The play doesn't attempt to capture reality as we know it, nor does it offer solutions to our real-life problems. What it offers are possibilities of life and of looking at things from a different perspective. Its coherence takes place in the minds and hearts of the audience."

To support the Centennial Artists Endowment Fund, call +6349-536-2567 or +6349-536-0844 or email fundcampaign@uplb.edu.ph. Donations from the USA can be coursed through maechanis@yahoo.com.

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