REVIEW: Campus productions tackle cruel nature of life, memory, death

Campus productions tackle cruel nature of life, memory, death
By Walter Ang
October 25, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

In our world of sensory overload through various mediums, desensitization to real life is a constant threat, if not result. Last month, the University of the Philippines' College of Arts and Letters put up three productions whose different materials and staging methods provided meditations on this implication while commemorating International Day of the Disappeared.

The college's Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas staged a twinbill of Palanca Hall of Fame awardee Reuel Aguila's works: "Alimuom / Walang Maliw," directed by Chris Millado and its Dept. of English and Comparative Literature staged Argentine playwright Griselda Gambaro's "Information for Foreigners," directed by Anton Juan. Its Dept. of Speech Communications and Theater Arts, through Dulaang UP, staged Floy Quintos' "Shock Value," directed by Alex Cortez.

Aguila's works take us into the internal and ephemeral. Staged in the intimate Tanghalang Hermogenes Ylagan, "Alimuom" (roughly: mugginess) is a monologue featuring a former military torturer inventorying the various methods he has applied in his career.

He talks of becoming used to the sights and sounds of the fallout of torture. He justifies that he'd only been following orders. A solitary length of bright orange plastic pipe coiled on the ground, a torture implement creating waves of creepy atmosphere.

Jonathan Tadiaoan deftly brought the torturer to life, though the monologue was staged in an unrelenting one-note of guilty anger, making it easy to space out at his ranting. Yes, we too became used the sights and sounds on stage, no matter the horrors being revealed.

"Walang Maliw" (roughly: unwaning) features a couple talking about their daughter who has disappeared five years hence. Names of Filipino desaparecidos (victims of forced disappearance) were written in chalk across the stage floor, setting a sharp, poignant and poetic statement: these names of real people who have disappeared that can all be easily erased with the swipe of a hand.

Millado employed a light touch with this piece, allowing Teroy Guzman (Daddy), Sherry Lara (Mommy) and Julia Enriquez (alternating with Kat Castillo) playing the daughter, Leny, to highlight Aguila's text with impactful subtlety.

The twinbill highlighted the burden of memory, the oppression of longing, and the struggle of letting go. The stark staging provided the immediacy and space to contemplate these themes.

If Aguila's work showed the inner workings of the mind and heart, Juan and assistant director/dramaturg Pat Valera's "Information for Foreigners" was all guts and gore.

Through a bacchanalia of exaggerated props, costumes (Lhenvil Paneda), lighting (Meliton Roxas) and sound (Jethro Joaquin) under Ohm David's technical direction, the show overwhelmed by using three entire floors of the College of Arts and Letters Building and bombarded audiences with scenes of torture and other acts of inhuman insanity in different classrooms and hallways.

To create the sense of loss of control, audiences were broken into groups led by tour guides through the different locations and were whisked away at turning points in scenes, some of which required audience participation. Kudos to the cast for powering through repeated performances for every group that arrives in succession and to the tour guides who had to navigate Juan's labyrinthine production while controlling large groups of people.

At one point, the novelty of going from room to room wearing off, the heat and humidity, the unyielding cacophony, the going up and down the stairs in herds had gotten to me and I thought, "How different is this from riding the MRT during rush hour and seeing, hearing and smelling Manila's brand of poverty-ridden craziness when I exit the station? What am I seeing here that I haven't already seen on TV or on the internet? This is supposed to be scary?"

Yet another instance of the numbing effect, which is very telling of the desensitizing powers of media and everyday life, despite the theatrically-configured presentation. Reality is blurred into fantasy when the production features the story of desaparecido Jonas Burgos. The enforced manner of experiencing this production leaves no time for thinking but is definitely thought-provoking through and through.

At the other end of the spectrum, "Shock Value" is a fluffy comedy about TV producer Matt Desaparecidos and how he orchestrates his own disappearance after becoming involved in a sex scandal that was, in turn, orchestrated by a rival. Subplots involve TV personalities as products of formulation and exploitation.

Andoy Ranay (alternating with Jojit Lorenzo) made Matt easy to hate: a self-absorbed, selfish, deceitful man-child. Mylene Dizon (alternating with Ana Abad Sanots) gives moments of earnestness to Rina Corpuz, the high-strung producer attempting to be Matt's voice of reason. Stella Canete (alternating with Frances Makil Ignacio) is a hilarious news anchor forced to compromise standards for ratings gimmicks while John Lapus (alternating with Jomari Jose) is a hilarious TV show host with no standards at all.

Cortez shows us the carnival that the broadcast industry is and Quintos makes us laugh at its ridiculousness. That this is a light comedy doesn't mean it doesn't have anything serious to say.

Quintos uses the broadcast industry as a metaphor to show us how power can be systematically abused on such a scale and to such a degree that we don't even notice it anymore or accept it as par (again, the notion of numbing).

Victims all
While the three departments didn't plan to showcase three distinct ways of presenting connected subject matter, audiences are better for it because they've been treated to a wealth of ideas to ponder on.

Social issues and history are touched on by the first two productions, but as the last production prods us to ask, despite the illusion that information is more accessible than ever, if all you watched on cable television were showbiz talk shows or all your current events news came only from your Facebook friends' shoutouts, and if all published and broadcasted information is actually edited by unseen powers anyway, who's to know what's real or not?

Needless to say, comparing enforced disappearances to anything else will be construed as insensitive. This tangential connection is merely to indulge a very small idea: if desaparecidos become disappeared without their consent because of their character, beliefs and will, it doesn't seem any better to have your own character, beliefs and will disappear, with your consent and participation, while you're still alive. Human cruelty spans from the horrible to the haunting, and also, the habitual.

Dulaang UP will stage "Isang Panaginip na Fili" written and directed by Floy Quintos from Nov. 24 to Dec. 12, 2010. This will be the third production for its 35th season "Return Engagement: Plays that deserve a second look," a series of restagings of DUP's past popular works. Call 981-8500 local 2449, 926-1349, 433-7840 or 0917-6206224.

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Asian American playwrights lend support to their Filipino counterparts

Asian American playwrights lend support to their Filipino counterparts
By Walter Ang
October 18, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Tony Award winning playwright David Henry Hwang noted the importance of supporting local playwrights as part of efforts to establish Philippine theater in the global arena.

"[The Philippines] has a unique, beautiful and complicated identity that needs to be shared with the world," he said at a reception at the Ayala Museum hosted by the Asia Society Philippine Foundation in cooperation with the Lark Play Development Center.

Hwang's most famous work is the play "M. Butterfly," which has been staged in the Philippines several times by theater groups such as Dulaang UP and Repertory Philippines. His "Golden Child" has also been staged by Tanghalang Pilipino.

Hwang co-wrote the libretto for the Disney musical "Aida" and wrote the libretti for the Disney musical "Tarzan" and an updated version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Flower Drum Song," which was initially slated to be staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines this year but has been postponed.

Hwang admitted to having more than just a unique perspective of the Philippines: his mother's family is from Cebu. "The works of playwrights," he said, "need to be honored by being produced for the stage. Theater can help shape identities of communities, of nations, of peoples. There are many local writers who deserve to be heard."

The reception featured short excerpts of plays written by members of the Writers Bloc, a support group for Filipino playwrights headed by multi-awarded playwright Rody Vera.

A scene was performed from Layeta Bucoy's play, "Anatomiya ni Hermano Puli," to open the program. Stage readings were done for the works of Vincent De Jesus' work-in-progress musical "Dragon Tales;" Mariane Villalon's play "Streetlight Manifesto;" and Floy Quintos' play "Fake."

Korean American playwright Lloyd Suh's play "American Hwangup" was also featured. His play is currently being staged by Tanghalang Pilipino. Performances in English and in a Filipino translation by Joi Barrios-Leblanc, in mixed-schedules, run until October 3.

The local staging of "American Hwangup" is done in cooperation with the Lark Play Development Center. The center in New York City provides resources for writers in developing plays and has international programs to "seek out and embrace unheard voices and diverse perspectives, celebrating differences in language and worldviews."

Hwang is a playwright advisor for the center and Suh is a former fellow.

Both Hwang and Suh demonstrated, through the readings of their plays, the revision process that they've had to go through to polish their works for successful runs.

Hwang reminded playwrights to ensure that they hear their works being spoken out loud as part of their revision process and to finally "have them produced however way you can." He recounted how he himself directed his first play in his college dormitory, which served to open doors for him in establishing a career as a playwright.

"David articulated everything that we've envisioned for Writers Bloc and the Virgin Labfest," said Rody Vera. The Virgin Labfest is the annual staging of output from the Writers Bloc's pool of playwrights. "It's wonderful that we have the same mission regarding playwrights' development in the country."

Prior to the reception, the Asia Society hosted a panel discussion titled "Breaking through Barriers" that focused on diversity and theater's role in cultural exchange.

Asia Society executive director Arnel Casanova said, "Theater serves as a platform and a bridge for different voices to be heard."

Founded by John D. Rockefeller III, the Asia Society promotes understanding of Asia through education. To this end, it conducts lectures, exhibitions, films, seminars, conferences and travel tours to encourage intercultural communications between Asia and the United States across the fields of policy, business, education, arts and culture.

Held at the Filipinas Heritage Library, speakers included John Eisner, Lark artistic director; Kate Leowald, Play Company artistic director; and Jorge Ortoll, Ma-Yi Theater executive director.

Headed by Ortoll and artistic director Ralph Pena, Ma-Yi Theater is known as one of the leading incubators of new Asian-American plays. It received a Special Drama Desk Award for Excellence this year.

Hsu's play was premiered Off-Broadway by Ma-Yi Theater. He is also co-director of Ma-Yi Writers Lab, the largest resident company of professional Asian American playwrights.

Joining the discussion were Asia Society's fellows for arts and culture Martin Lopez, Far Eastern University President's Committee on Culture head; and Cagayan De Oro-based Mozart Pastrano, Pasundayag Community Theater artistic director.

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'Dolce Italia!' launched

'Dolce Italia!' launched
Text and photos by Walter Ang
October 18, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Italian ambassador Luca Fornari and his wife Silvana opened this year's Italian Festival 2010 at a reception held at Italian furniture retailer Furnitalia's showroom in Bonifacio Global City.

Fornari gave a few inspiring words, highlighting that the festival is indeed the perfect time to celebrate the continuing partnership between Italy and the Philippines.

Organized annually by the Italian Trade Commission, this year's theme is "Dolce Italia," aiming "to promote fine Italian living through a series of interesting events that mix art with technology, design with function, and tradition with development."

Hosting the launch were Furnitalia managing director Florence Ko and Italian Trade Commission senior trade officer Lyndon Villanueva. Noted personalities from the social, business and diplomatic circles were treated to a red, white and green celebration.

Multi-awarded tenor and pop opera singer Jonathan Badon serenaded the guests with Italian arias. Canapés and desserts were prepared by Florabel retauarant. Furnitalia raffled off luxurious furniture pieces.

This year's festival runs until November 24 and includes various events. An Italian Village was created at The Podium to benefit the Animal Welfare Coalition. Italian companies in the Philippines and those that carry Italian brands exhibited their products and held lectures and product demos.

Film festival
From Oct. 20 to 26, the Italian Film Festival will be held at Shangri-la Plaza. Line-up of movies includes comedies such as Ovosodo (Hard boiled egg), L'abbufatta (The feast), Riprendimi (Good morning heartache) and Chiedimi se sono felice (Ask me if I'm happy), among others. There will also be thrillers like La Sindrome Di Stendhal (The Stendhal Syndrome) and La Ragazza del lago (The Girl by the lake).

Fashion and home
Stores like Furnitalia, B&B, Megamax Concepts and Alessi will highlight Italian furniture and houseware in their particular showrooms, focusing on the newest products available.

In November, Newtrends will hold an invitational fashion accessories show featuring Italian brand watches. The Segnatempo Time and Jewels store in Greenbelt will also be launched.

Hotels and restaurants that offer Italian cuisine have discounts or special offers: Caffe Puccini, Cantinetta, Sunday Brunch at Escolta of Peninsula Manila, Giuseppe, L'Ambasciata d'Abruzzo, L'Opera Group of Restaurants, Paparazzi of EDSA Shangri-la, and White Hat Frozen Yogurt.

A raffle promo for tickets to Italy is up for grabs at the following establishments: Bellini's, Cantinetta, Cravings, Skylounge of Diamond Hotel, Harry's Bar, L'Incontro, Latitude of Traders Hotel, Oakroom of Oakwood Premier, Riviera Café of Hertiage Hotel, and Tosca of Dusit Thani Hotel.

Until the end of October, the Italian Food and Wine Festival is being held at the Araneta Center, Cubao, where promos and discounts are offered by restaurants and wine shops like Vapensiero, Cibo, Titania, and Premier Wine.

Wine collectors or people stocking up on Christmas gifts should take advantage of the discounts that distributors are offering on Italian labels.

In November, the Center for Culinary Arts will conduct demonstrations featuring prominent Italian chefs as lecturers such as Chef Salvatore de Vincentis of EDSA Shangri-la's Italian restaurant, Paparazzi.

For details, call the Italian Trade Commission at 817-5929.

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REVIEW: American Hwangap -- charming, funny and fuzzy

American Hwangap -- charming, funny and fuzzy
By Walter Ang
October 14, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Distance is a recurring theme in Korean American Lloyd Suh's "American Hwangap," recently staged by Tanghalang Pilipino.

Min Suk left his family in Texas for Korea fifteen years ago and has returned for his 60th birthday. David, his eldest son, is in New York City, closer to Texas than Korea, but refuses to join the reunion. Esther, his daughter, is in the same house as he is but can't wait to leave. Ralph, the youngest son, lives in the basement but now Min Suk wants him out. Mary, the mother, is in a new place in her life, even if she's still physically in the same location.

Suh's play is charming and funny enough: the characters are endearingly quirky, the punchlines are good for laughs. But it plods along at a slow pace and fizzles at the end due to both scripting and staging.

Hwangap commemorates the completion of one full astrological cycle and is a symbolic "rebirth" upon turning 60. Min Suk takes this as a carte blanche free pass to suddenly start fixing his children's lives as if he'd never left.

The premise of the prodigal father sounds ripe for confrontations, but Suh has crafted a family that's not into explosions, instead, they suppress bitterness, feign self-control, and intersperse their points with circuitous recollections of the past. Not the best way to sustain tension on stage.

Suh's lines for the characters tell us where they've been, but don't seem to tell us where they're coming from. And before we get to know the children enough to empathize with the angst they feel for their father, Suh has already cut them off with closing statements. One underexplained motivation is how Mary, without a trace of resentment, is so welcoming of Min Suk's return.

This results in the distances, emotional or otherwise, either feeling like they aren't leading anywhere or terminating too cleanly. After you leave the theater, you realize that the characters actually articulated where they want to go, but because of the roundabout sequencing of these declarations and director Chris Millado's drawn out pacing, it was easy to miss.

It does not help that set designer Mio Infante parlays the distances being navigated by the characters with a cavernous house that spans the entire length of the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino stage.

Yes, it can be construed as a metaphor for how the characters rattle around an external world as far reaching as their internal problems, but the scale dissipates the intimate material (of mostly scenes between two characters at a time) and eats up the otherwise competent turns of the cast.

Sound designer Jethro Joaquin's melancholy music bridge for the black-outs between scenes, which are awkwardly long because audiences have to wait for the actors have to cross back and forth the huge set, and Katsch Catoy's dim lighting design further add to the sluggish pacing.

There are questions about the adaptation choices as well. The birthdays of celebrities is used as a conversation point, but why does the production use names that are familiar to Filipinos only in the Tagalog translation? If it weren't for being the voice behind Mermaid Man in Spongebob Squarepants, would anyone younger than 35 even know who Ernest Borgnine is? (He shares Esther's birthday). The blank look of the college students watching tells us the name doesn't ring any bells.

Language gap
Nonetheless, Jeremy Domingo (David), Leisel Batucan (Esther) and Nico Manalo (Ralph) are each given scenes where they are able to show off their acting chops. Domingo and Batucan express variations of frustration and hurt. Manalo, although too young looking for his 30 year old character, has great comic timing.

The English staging works with Bembol Roco (Min Suk) since Suh assigns the character lines with broken grammar and Roco speaks without an American twang.

As Mary, Celeste Legaspi's ease with twang fits her character's context of having rebuilt herself into a more "American" version of herself (therefore, being able to speak "better" English?though a Texan drawl might have been more fun and funnier).

The Tagalog translation runs into several problems. Joi Barrios-Lebanc's translation is clumsy and hard on the ears. Her choices for Tagalog vocabulary lean towards the poetic, which doesn't match the conversational tone of the original English. She has the characters slip in and out of English (a lot of this) and Tagalog (doesn't seem enough, considering it's a translation) but not in the usual Taglish syntax that we use.

In the Tagalog version, Mario O' Hara (Min Suk) speaks with equal ease in Tagalog and English while Gina Pareno (Mary), is comfortable in Tagalog but her English wavers. Twang colors Batucan's and Domingo's Tagalog.

If, in this world that Leblanc has created, Taglish replaces American English as the parents' second language (assuming Korean is there first language), then shouldn't O'Hara be speaking broken Taglish for that matter, instead of slipping into entire sentences of broken English? Never mind the disparate accents.

Language barriers aside, both Roco and O'Hara were able to balance out Min Suk with equal parts arrogance, humor and sensitivity. Legaspi is an assured and sassy Mary, at ease with her co-actors. Pareno, while occasionally falling prey to split second gaps as she anticipates her cues, holds her own against the veteran cast and is hilarious with her effortless turns at physical comedy in her stage debut.

External to internal
It's as if Suh wants to say Asian American theater craft is done with asking questions about identity hinged on culture or ethnicity, instead, it's now hinged on other things like, oh say, family dynamics.

It's as if Millado's casting choices and Leblanc's translation choices want to point out that accents and grammar (and, okay, let's put facial features and skin color in the mix, too) don't matter in this production that is, at this point, a mix of Korean, American and Filipino filters.

But in this world seemingly stripped of cultural identifiers?the set design is a generic "American" suburban interior devoid of Korean decor; Korean phrases seem inserted as an afterthought, etc.?the risk of stereotyping notwithstanding, it becomes difficult to situate this attempt at an everyfamily.

Perhaps the production's whole point is that, save for the concept of hwangap, this family is not at all encumbered by their Korean cultural baggage, and are, in fact, depending on how you look at it, all American? Or is that Filipino? Who exactly are they again?

Tanghalang Pilipino will stage the children's musical "Ang Hukuman Ni Sinukuan" by National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario from Nov. 19 to Dec. 12, 2010. Call 832-3661.

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New internet experience from Sky Broadband

New internet experience
By Walter Ang
October 11, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Cable internet provider SkyBroadband has launched its 112mbps service, the fastest ultra high speed plan available for residential customers. Speeds of 48mbps and 24mbps are also now offered, all surpassing its high speed connections of 6mbps and 12mbps.

SkyBroadband provides internet connection using the same infrastructure used for the SkyCable cable television service. Cable lines carry more data and allow for higher bandwidths compared to DSL internet connections which use phone lines.

"With this service, we bring the Philippines to the next level, moving closer to first-world countries such as Japan," said Ray Montinola, marketing head of Sky. Japan ranked the highest in a study of 30 countries on the fastest advertised broadband speeds offered commercially and technologically. The study was conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

"We are committed to elevate the Filipino internet experience and contribute to the country's upward path to economic progress," he added, citing a statement made by the International Telecommunications Union's secretary general that broadband is "the next truly transformational technology. It can generate jobs, drive growth and productivity, and underpin long-term economic competitiveness."

Home use
Montinola notes that SkyBroadband is "at the forefront of pushing greater broadband speeds to allow more Filipinos improved access to productivity, entertainment and information sources and applications on the internet."

He said that having this kind of access to high speed will allow users to use multiple online applications without lag, for example, watching uninterrupted streaming high-definition video while downloading large files.

The service also allows subscribers to access exclusive content from SkyCable and sister broadcasting company ABS-CBN at the website.

"Subscribers can watch shows they want, on-demand anytime, for free," he said. "They can catch up the latest telenovela shows in ABS-CBN, the business programs in ANC, the news-breaking developments in foreign cable news shows, and, for the young, the latest music videos on MYX." Live streaming is also available from certain stations.

Bundled packages can include SkyCable service as well as the company's SkyVoice overseas phone call service that uses voice over internet protocol for cheaper rates compared to calls made on phone lines. "This allows our subscribers the convenience of paying for all three services with just one bill," he said.

While lower speed plans are also available, subscribers who avail of the 6mpbs plan and upward are given a personal concierge for service concerns.

The roll-out is in its initial stages and is now available in Rockwell, Makati City in the following buildings: Rizal Tower, Hidalgo Place, Luna Gardens, Amorsolo Square, Joya Lofts and Towers, and The Manansala.

Call 636-9292 loc. 4952 or visit 

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Metrobank art and design winners named

Metrobank art and design winners named
By Walter Ang
October 11,2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Winners of this year's Metrobank Art and Design Excellence (Made) National Competition in painting, sculpture, architecture and interior design were awarded by the Metrobank Foundation.

Reynaldo Samson, Jr. won grand prize in the oil/acrylic-on-canvas category with his 36 by 48 inches "Ang Hindi Matapus-tapos na Ebolusyon, at ang Walang Katapusang Paghahanap sa 'Di Matagpu-tagpuang Langit."

Lester Rodriguez won grand prize in the watermedia-on-paper category with his 24 x 36 inches "The Hidden Agenda."

Both Samson and Rodriguez are first time competitors, do not have any formal training in painting, and hail from Rizal (Antipolo and Binangonan, respectively).

For the sculpture category, which allows entries in glass, metal, wood, stone, and fired clay, Marc Vincent Cosico took top honors for his polymer "Superhero Complex."

The painting and sculpture categories are open to artists 18 to 35 years old. This year, one of the youngest competitors, 18 year old Dennis Ticao, received the special prize in the sculpture category for his terracotta "Riders of the Storm."

Other winners in the oil/acrylic-on-canvas category include Mary Grace Tenorio, second prize, for "Tanikalang Bakal;" and Rolf Domini Campos, third prize, for "Unfinished Bout." For the watermedia-on-paper category, Kathleen Yeo won the special prize for "Patungo."

Maureen Grace De Jesus won grand prize for the interior design category for her work "Rise of the Fallen," which features repurposed fallen tree parts. Heidrun Milan won the special prize for his "Eco-lecticReflection."

Miguel Angelo Mañosa, known for advocating "tropical organic" houses specifically designed for tropical climates, won grand prize in the architecture category for his work "Private Residence."

The interior design and architecture categories are open to licensed professionals 25 to 45 years old. These two categories are done in partnership with Philippine Institute of Interior Designers, United Architects of the Philippines, the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines, Metrobank Card Corporation, real estate company Federal Land, and architecture magazine BluPrint.

Each winner received a glass trophy designed by sculptor Noell El Farol.

Culture of excellence
Guests of honor at the awarding ceremony held at Le Pavillion events hall included Ambassador Luca Fornari of the Republic of Italy, Ambassador Liu Jianchao of the People's Republic of China, and Secretary Julia Andrea Abad, Presidential Management Staff Head.

Ballet Philippines performed at the beginning of the ceremony to a mixed group of artists, art patrons, business and government leaders, diplomats, and cultural advocates.

Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña gave the welcome remarks. "We are delighted to have been able to discover such promising talents among today's youth," he said. "We hope that our winners this year will continue to pursue their craft and motivate aspiring artists and designers to do the same, contributing to the development of Philippine art and design."

Metrobank founder and group chairperson George Ty created the foundation in 1979 to "share the fruits of [the bank's] success with society." Ty serves as the foundation's chairperson. Aside from the Made competition, the foundation has awards that honor teachers, policemen and soldiers.

The visual arts competition was created in 1984, then known as the Metrobank Annual Painting Competition. "The Competition was foreseen as an instrument that would engage the youth in a positive endeavor amidst the economic and political chaos that the Philippines was in at that time," said Made program officer Dolores Macayan.

In the mid 90s, the competition was renamed to Young Painters' Annual to "reflect the expanding interventions of the foundation in the arts." Beyond hosting competitions, it evolved into developing and funding art and design programs to "promote a culture of excellence towards holistic human social development."

The competition's current name was created in the mid 2000s when sculpture, architecture and interior design were included in its roster of categories.

Promote and educate
"To date, the arts intervention programs of Metrobank Foundation has given recognition to almost 500 young artists," said Macayan.

Previous winners of the competition include Elmer Borlongan, Anton Del Castillo, Mark Justiniani, Jan Leeroy New and Ronald Ventura.

Former winners of the competition are usually tapped to conduct art demonstrations or teaching sessions annually.

Aside from this year's awarding ceremony, an exhibit showcasing this year's entries was unveiled. A number of the artworks were put on sale, with proceeds going directly to the artists.

The foundation also hosted its own Art Exploration Series, lectures on art that included topics on printmaking; trends in Philippine architecture and interior design; as well as legal issues on copyright, forgeries and obscenity.

"The foundation has supported close to 300 arts-related activities such as exhibits of competition winners, art workshops, art festivals, facilities improvement of museums and schools, among others," said Macayan.

"Close to P15M has been disbursed in support of the programs over the foundation's existence."

For details, call the Metrobank Foundation at 898-8856 and 857-5918 or email 

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