Artists’ Confab Hits ‘Culture of Festivals,’ Eco-tourism

The “culture of festivals and eco-tourism projects” has subordinated the people’s way of life to the profit drive of local government units. This was one of the main observations that came to the fore during the country’s first national cultural summit.


The “culture of festivals and eco-tourism projects” has subordinated the people’s way of life to the profit drive of local government units.

This was one of the main observations that came to the fore during a national cultural summit held by the Amado V. Hernandez Resource Center (AVHRC) in cooperation with the National Center for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). The summit, the first of its kind in the Philippines, was held Sept. 12-14 in Antipolo City, Rizal.

The event gathered individuals and groups working in the cultural field to discuss and debate on history, orientation, specific projects, deficiencies, and recent successes.

For several years artists and cultural workers have decried what they describe as the lack of government support for arts and culture. There is a lack of government funding for the creation and propagation of cultural projects, they say.

Government sponsorship of arts and culture has mainly been manifested through the holding of seasonal “cultural festivals” and the promotion of local eco-tourism projects aimed at attracting spectators and raking in revenues. This has resulted in the commercialization of arts and culture, artists and cultural workers say.

The summit also tackled a host of other issues relating to the cultural sector.

Jennifer Padilla, AVHRC executive director, delivered a paper on the state of arts and culture from the viewpoint of the cause-oriented movement. She specifically cited how the culture of peace is greatly manipulated in the aim of “decimating the enemy” in the “all-out war” campaign.

Fictionist and film critic Rolando Tolentino conversed with the audience on the salience of the people’s involvement in popular culture, a crucial understanding of how it is defined by capital and imperial project and the necessity of critical work in the limited struggle within this field.

Multi-awarded film director Joel Lamangan shared his views on censorship practices. Coming from the inside of show business, Lamangan railed against how the views of the status quo determine the exhibition of films and how censorship eventually “thwarts” dissenting views.

Journalist Danilo Arao spoke on how the militaristic campaign of the current government has taken its toll on media workers, citing the number and scope of killings, arson, and harassment against journalists and media outfits.

Joel Garduce, convenor of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) Commission for Arts, Culture, and the Free Flow of Information, highlighted culture, especially films and audio-visual media, and its ties with global interests. The global economic set-up, he said, paves the way for anti-imperialist struggle on a world-wide scale.

The summit delegates also discussed what they described as the present “repressive” atmosphere and how it infringes on the activities of artists and cultural workers.

“Recent events also demand our stand on matters impinging on our efforts as cultural workers, most importantly the harassment and abduction of artists operating on sensitive issues,” Padilla said. In particular, they noted the recent abductions of members of Teatro Obrero in Negros and Southern Tagalog Exposure in Quezon.

In a message read by Elmar Ingles, historian and NCCA chairman Ambeth Ocampo said that progressives and militants “must never waver” in voicing out their convictions.

Delegates capped the summit with various performances. Songs, plays, poetry reading, and dances on issues of militarization, agrarian problem, plight of the urban poor and workers, and the indigenous people’s struggle were the binding act that urged the participants to persevere in heightening cultural work’s involvement in the greater social movement. With reports from JPaul Manzanilla (

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