THE ANNUAL National Arts Month has been renamed the Philippine International Arts Festival in a bid to make the Philippines the center for arts and culture in Asia. Organized by the National Commission for Culture and Arts, this year’s festival, “Ani ng Sining,” promises to be colorful and memorable, with arts productions and events happening across the land.

The PIAF began its celebration last January 13 at the Clamshell Tent 2 in Intramuros Manila as part of the 18-day Countdown to the National Arts Month 2009. The ceremonies were led by NCCA Chair Vilma Labrador, Executive Director Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, and Commissioner Ricardo de Ungria. Chin Chin Gutierrez, Bayang Barrios, the Quezon City Ballet and Karangahan Philippine Dance Company, among others, graced the event. The official jingle for the National Arts Month, composed by Joey Ayala, was launched.

The first day of February saw the official launch of “Ani ng Sining” through simultaneous activities in various venues.

Month-long festival activities include PA(ng)LABAS, a composite of a traveling exhibition, lecture-forum, and film showing that will examine b film and architecture as they relate to the development of film media, architecture and urban landscape. PA(ng)LABAS will be held on February 10 at 4 p.m. with an opening and symposium at the Forefront Gallery and Aldaba Hall University Theater, University of the Philippines—Diliman; and February 17-21 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

The Walai-Vernacular Architecture of Mindanao is an architectural drawing and photography exhibit of the vernacular houses of Mindanao culled from the Walai Pangampong project, complemented with a lecture series, selected ritual dances and craft works associated with house building and construction, and a model replica of selected indigenous structure. It is slated February 6-13 in General Santos City, and Feb. 20-28 at the University of San Agustin, Iloilo City. 

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Meanwhile, Tanghal!, the 3rd National University Theater Festival hosted by Colegio de San Juan de Letran-Calamba, will feature university-based theater groups from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and NCR, February 10-14 at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran-Calamba. 

Taboan: Philippine Writers Festival will be a celebration of the word—written, painted, sung, or performed. It is also an assembly of writers nationwide, as they tackle issues pertaining to their craft or the situation of writing in the country. This will be on February 11-13 at the UP Diliman, Ateneo de Manila and Cubao Expo.

Sayaw Pinoy will be a touring dance concert that brings together different dance forms, and features local dance troupes and professional dance companies. Sayaw Pinoy will be on February 6-9 in the Visayas and NCR regions; February 13-16 in Mindanao; and February 20-23 in Luzon.

Sinerehiyon will showcase emerging cinema from the different regions in the Philipines on February 18-22 at the CCP.

Philippine Visual Arts Fest ‘09 will exhibit the works of Filipino and international artists at the Robinsons Place-Ermita and Robinsons Place—Pioneer, February 18-22.

Organik Muzik consists of four concerts combining ethnic music traditions and electronic music, from Cordillera traditions to Kadangyan’s world music, from Leyteño siday to Junior Kilat’s reggae Binisaya, from folk arts awardee Samaon Sulaiman’s virtuoso kutyapi-playing to the hard-driving neo-ethnic rock of Popong Landero, from Balagtasan to the acid-jazz rants of Lourd de Veyra and the Radioactive Sago Music Project. The concerts will take place on February 7 at SM Baguio; February 15 at SM Cebu; February 22 at SM Davao; and February 28 at SM North.

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The 17 DepEd Regional Schools for the Arts will gather for the 2nd Sining Pambansa in Baguio City.

The NCCA will also sign a memorandum of agreement with the Provincial government of Rizal, headed by Gov. Jun Ynares, for the construction of the Artists’ Housing Village in Angono.

Other festival highlights: the restoration of the Metropolitan Theater of Manila and the unveiling of the Urdaneta Park in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, in commemoration of Augustinian Fray Andres de Urdaneta’s 500th birth anniversary.

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