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National Artists Almario, Lumbera Lead Good Friday Rally for Arts and Culture


Pandacan, Manila


April 2, 2010





Writers and artists led by the Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA) and the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) gathered at the Plaza Francisco Balagtas in the Pandacan district of Manila on Good Friday, mounting a symbolic “clean-up” for Philippine arts and culture exactly on the 222nd birth anniversary of the country’s premier poet.
 Dubbed “Mag-alis ng Dungis ng Bayan: Penitensiya para sa Dangal ng Bayan” (Clean the Dirt of the Nation: Penitence for National Dignity), the program included some poetry performances not only remembering the King of Tagalog Poets and author of the canonical work “Florante at Laura,” but also calling for renewed state support for the arts.


--- from a news article by PHilip Kimpo, Jr, LIRA president



Photos courtesy of Judy Taguiwalo


National Artists Almario, Lumbera Lead Good Friday Rally for Arts and Culture
by Pillip Kimpo Jr.:

MANILA, Philippines—Writers and artists led by the Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA) and the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) gathered at the Plaza Francisco Balagtas in the Pandacan district of Manila on Good Friday, mounting a symbolic “clean-up” for Philippine arts and culture exactly on the 222nd birth anniversary of the country’s premier poet.

Dubbed “Mag-alis ng Dungis ng Bayan: Penitensiya para sa Dangal ng Bayan” (Clean the Dirt of the Nation: Penitence for National Dignity), the program included some poetry performances not only remembering the King of Tagalog Poets and author of the canonical work “Florante at Laura,” but also calling for renewed state support for the arts.

Armed with brooms, dust pans, and rags, the group convened by National Artist for Literature and former University of the Philippines Diliman College of Arts and Letters Dean Virgilio S. Almario, also known as the poet Rio Alma, also bared a cultural agenda which includes, among others, measures to improve the state of cultural industries and the creation of a separate Department of Culture.

“It is necessary to formulate a national policy that fully recognizes and gives due importance to culture as the core and foundation of government political and economic policy, said Almario, in a statement he read on stage with Manila Historical and Heritage Committee Vice Chair Gemma Cruz Araneta.

The seven-point agenda prepared for people running for office in the coming May 10 polls proposes, among others: (1) “The formation of a separate and full-fledged Department of Culture to oversee and manage the present cultural agencies of the government”; (2) “The establishment of a National Institute for the Creative Industries at the University of the Philippines to undertake cultural research, train cultural workers, and design a national plan for genuine cultural education”;

(3) “Support for the potential of culture and creative work in economic production”; (4) “Promotion and empowerment of Filipino as the National Language”; (5) “Financing undertakings for the protection and upkeep of the nation’s natural and cultural heritage”; (6) “Designation of an official Cultural Coordinator in every municipality, city, and province”; and (7) the training of teachers, “for them to become active representatives of effective cultural education.”

“Everything must emanate from culture,” Almario explained in an earlier interview. “It must be the center of all things. This is not only my belief, but this idea is being implemented in Japan, Korea and China. That is why these countries never go wrong in their policies all because culture is where their policies are anchored. Why? Because culture means country.”

Joining Almario and Araneta as lead signatories of the cultural agenda were Bienvenido Lumbera and Benedicto Cabrera, National Artists for Literature and Visual Arts, respectively; critic Isagani R. Cruz, representing Wika ng Kultura at Agham (WIKA), University of the Philippines Diliman Deans Zosimo Lee (Social Science and Philosophy), Danilo Silvestre (Architecture), and Rolando Tolentino (Mass Communication); poet Romulo Baquiran Jr., chair of the Filipinas Institute of Translation; poet Victor Emmanuel Carmelo Nadera Jr., UMPIL chair; poet Phillip Kimpo Jr., LIRA president; and singer and songwriter Gary Granada.

After the clean-up, Lumbera and Liberal Party Senatorial Candidate Sonia Roco led the offering of flowers at the Balagtas monument, while the participants sang the nationalistic classic “Bayan Ko.” The attendees carried placards and streamers that echoed the cultural agenda, as well as commentary on the recent Presidential “midnight appointments” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and last year’s National Artist Awards controversy.

The event organizer, LIRA is the premier organization of poets in Filipino celebrating its 25th anniversary this 2010, while UMPIL is the largest organization of writers in the country.

Photos by Phillip Kimpo Jr. (click for larger versions):



Natonal Artist Bien Lumbera and LP senatorial candidate Sonia Roco

led the offering of flowers at the Balagtgas monument

Photo by Philip Kimpo Jr.  



April 3, 2010

Resist the `Arroyo-fication’ of media, arts and culture:
UP CMC calls on candidates to present Media Agenda

The undersigned faculty members of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) views with grave concern what they describe to be the “Arroyo-fication” of media, arts and culture.

Despite government claims that there is nothing irregular with the spate of political appointments which include key positions in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), National Historical Institute (NHI) and the National Museum (NM), it cannot be denied that most of them are closely identified with the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

If the latter is sincere in promoting media, culture and the arts, the new political appointments, if indeed necessary, should be based on merit, not political patronage or affiliation.

In the case of the CCP, the five board members who were replaced – Jaime Laya, Nes Jardin, Behn Cervantes, Tessie Luz and Lorna Kapunan – opposed last year the inclusion in the Order of National Artist of Cecile Guidote-Alvarez and Carlo J. Caparas, both of whom are close to the government. That the new CCP board appointees recently tried but failed to oust CCP Chair Emily Abrera shows the intention of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration to use influential positions in culture and the arts to get even with its critics.

Television and film’s vulnerability to the dictates of the powers-that-be becomes more apparent with the recent decision of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to give an “X (Not for Public Viewing)” rating to two films by award-winning directors scheduled to be shown in ABS-CBN News Channel’s (ANC) AmBisyon 2010.

Even if the MTRCB later changed to “R (Restricted)” its X rating of Brillante Mendoza’s Ayos Ka, the board maintained its “X” rating of Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ganito Tayo Ngayon, Paano na Tayo Bukas? Both films analyze the realities of poverty in the Philippines, the manner of which the MTRCB deems to “undermine the faith and confidence of the people in their government” and “defamatory to the good name and reputations of any person.” When the MTRCB reviewed Jeturian’s film the second time, it added that his work "tends to threaten economic and political stability of the state” and "depicts excretory functions in a patently offensive and demeaning manner.”

The “Arroyo-fication” may be seen in the brazen attempts of MTRCB to promote on television and film only one point of view in depicting social realities – that of the government. Anything that toes the line, as in the case of Mendoza and Jeturian, is simply unacceptable to the powers-that-be.

Despite the change in the rating of Mendoza’s work, both films still cannot be shown on television as the MTRCB requires a G (General Patronage) or PG (Parental Guidance) rating.

Even if the word “censorship” cannot be found in Presidential Decree No. 1986 and in MTRCB’s Implementing Rules and Regulations, what the board is doing is exactly that: Making impositions on what is acceptable to the public, even on the discussion and analysis of social issues.

When the MTRCB was established in 1985, it was meant to be a temporary body to help facilitate self-regulation on television and film. Now in its 25th year, its transitional nature has apparently become permanent.

The death threats via text message recently received by journalist Marites Vitug as a result of her book about the Supreme Court (Shadow of Doubt) show a different permutation of “Arroyo-fication,” that of the culture of impunity that emboldens some sectors to harass, intimidate and even kill media practitioners who dare expose the truth. Vitug made the right decision to publicly expose the death threat she received. Just like other media groups, the UP CMC condemns this development and calls on the government to end the culture of impunity that gives rise to such assault on press freedom.

On the occasion of the May 10 national and local elections, the UP CMC calls on the candidates to present a clear Media Agenda which includes a program for self-regulation in the media. They should clearly state where they stand on the continued existence of the MTRCB and how it is used as an instrument to muzzle freedom of expression on television and film. More specifically, they should state how justice can be attained for the victims of the November 23 Ampatuan massacre where 32 journalists were killed, as well as how they could help end the unabated media killings.

While it is laudable for some candidates to denounce the so-called midnight appointments in the culture and arts-related bodies, they should present once and for all a clear Media Agenda. Voters should know who among the current candidates are the advocates of freedom of expression and are opposed to the “Arroyo-fication” of media, arts and culture.

Lastly, the UP CMC joins the other concerned Filipino people in maintaining vigilance and the days, weeks and months to come as there are signs that Macapagal-Arroyo plans to exert power and influence even beyond the expiration of her term as President. Such moves do not just threaten freedom of the press and of expression but also the people’s other basic freedoms.


Dr. Roland Tolentino, Dean
Dr. Lourdes Portus, College Secretary
Prof. Danilo Arao, Department of Journalism


Danilo A. Arao
Assistant Professor
Department of Journalism
College of Mass Communication Plaridel Hall
University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, Q.C. 1101
Telephone: (+632) 920-6852, 981-8500 loc. 2672
Fax: (+632) 920-6852
Mobile Phone: (+63908) 866-ARAO


National Artist Virgilio Almario and Gemma Cruz
  Jun Balde read his DALIT  

Sulyap kay Balagtas
Teo Antonio

Kung pagsaulan kong basahin sa isip
Ang nangakaraang ikaw’y naghimagsik
May inilantad kang dusa at hinagpis
Na sugat ng baying pinakaiibig

Kapag susulyapan makata Balagtas
Nilalandas nati’y dusa at bagabag
Binusbos ng talim ng kanyang panulat
Ang sugat ng baying kusang inilantad

Mahiganting langit bangis mo’y nasaan?
Ngayo’y naniniig sa pagkagulaylay,
Bago’y bang bandila ng lalong kasamaan
Sa reynang Albania’y iniwawagayway

Sa loob at labás, ng bayan cong sauî
caliluha,i, siyang nangyayaring harî
cagalinga,t, bait ay nalulugamî
ininís sa hucay nang dusa,t, pighatî.

Ang magandang asal ay ipinupucól
sa láot ng dagat ng cut-ya,t, lingatong
balang magagalíng ay ibinabaón
at inililibing na ualáng cabaong.

Nguni, ay ang lilo,t, masasamang loób
sa trono ng puri ay inalulucloc
at sa balang sucáb na may asal hayop
mabangong incienso ang isinusuob.
Caliluha,t, sama ang úlo,i, nagtayô
at ang cabaita,i, quimi,t, nacayucô,
santong catouira,i, lugamì at hapô,
ang lúha na lamang ang pinatutulô.

At ang balang bibíg na binubucalán
nang sabing magalíng at catutuhanan
agád binibiác at sinisican~gan
nang cáliz n~g lalong dustáng camatayan.

¡O tacsíl na pita sa yama,t, mataás!
¡o hangad sa puring hanging lumilipas!
icao ang dahilan n~g casamáng lahat
at niyaring nasapit na cahabághabág.

Balagtas, Balagtas pamanang iniwan
Ang sugat ng bayang nilantad na tunay
Sapagkat ang punong masakim sa yaman
Ay mariing hampas ng langit sa bayan

Sapagkat ang mundo’y bayan ng hinagpis
Mamamaya’y sukat tibayan ang dibdib
Lumaki sa tuwa, tarot maghimagsik
Pano wawalisin ang pambansang dungis?




Pantas naming ginagalang
Ituro po ang paraan
Nang ang dungis nitong bayan
Ay malinis nang lubusan

1.Itong bansa naming sawi
Ay lugmok na sa pighati
Dahil bingi’t walang budhi
Itong dwendeng naghahari

O Balagtas na kasama
Sa aming pakikibaka
Pandak na Entremetida
Pagkaitan po ng Gloria!

2. Poderoso na esposo
Daig pa ang nasa trono;
Kung mangotong walang preno
Kanâ doon, kanâ dito!

O Balagtas na katuto
Ituro po kung paano
Itong banâ na perwisyo
Ay masugbâ sa impyerno

3. Mga anak na gahaman
Tanging pakay magpayaman;
Kasamahang mapanlinlang
Mga linta sa katihan.

Balagtas na kapanalig
Pakinggan ang aming hibik:
Mga salot na malupit
Nararapat nang iligpit!

4. Mga kampon sa Kongreso
Pakwala sa Senado;
Ang batas ay niloloko
Taumbaya’y ginagago!

O Balagtas iadya mo
Ang bayan sa politikong
Anghel habang kandidato
Ahas kapag nasa trono!

5. Kahit hukbong sandatahan
Ay hati ang katapatan;
Iwas duwag sa labanan.
Salakay sa kabang-yaman!

O Balagtas na matapang
Ipahayag mo pang minsan:
Pag ang puno walang asal
Sukab din ang kawal

6. Yamang likas nitong bayan
Ginahasa nang tuluan;
Kalbong bundok, lupang tigang
Tuyong ilog at minahan!

Balagtas ng aming bansa
Gabayan ang aming diwa;
Nang ang ganid maapula’t
Magpayaman aming lupa

7. Huwag sanang pabayaan
Sa darating na halalan
Mamayani ang dayaan,
Ang suhulan at patayan.

Pantas na iginagalang
Makaminsan mo pang turan:
Ang haring naghangad yaman
Hampas ng langit sa bayan!

8. Huwag ding ipahintulot
Na halalan ay maudlot,
Dahil tiyak ang kasunod
Sadyang gulo’t paghahamok.

Kapitapitagang Pantas
Kami sana’y makaiwas
Na minsan pa ay masadlak
Sa pang-aapi ng pandak!

9. Mataimtim naming dasal:
Sana naman ang mahalal
May prinsipyo at may dangal
At sa baya’y nagmamahal

O Balagtas sumasamo
Itong bansang nakayuko
Tunay sana na may puso
Ang susunod na Pinuno!

(Binigkas sa paanan ng bantayog ni Balagtas sa Pandakan, Maynila sa kaarawan ng makata sa ika-2 ng Abril 2010




CAP statement on GMA's midnight appointments

The Concerned Artists of the Philippines lambasts Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s latest most outrageous and unconstitutional binge on midnight appointments, which includes the removal of the entire board of the CCP, as well as the National Historical Institute and the National Museum.

GMA’s shameless and habitual circumvention of constitutional procedures takes a new level with her recent en masse appointment and replacement of officials in critical executive positions. With three months left to her corrupt regime, GMA, with her complacence over the Supreme Court’s verdict allowing her to appoint the next chief justice, has perpetuated another round of unceremonious dismissals and appointments of officials in vital government, this time on an outstandingly large scale.

Despite the fact that it has been two weeks since the pre-election constitutional ban on midnight appointees, GMA placed five new members in the board of the CCP: Antonio S. Yap, Arsenio Lizaso, Gabriel Ma. J. Lopez, Paolo Ma. Diosdado Casurao y Granados, Carmen Navarro-Pedrosa, and Lutgardo “Gardy” Abad. It is hardly surprising to find out that all of the appointees are identified with Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, the Presidential Adviser on Culture and the Arts and one of the beneficiaries of Arroyo’s moribund patronage politics in last year’s National Artist Award fiasco.

Meanwhile, Arroyo also doled out occupied positions in the National Historical Institute and the National Museum as political favors to her supporters, supplanting the seated officials who found out about their ouster only days after the start of the ban on midnight appointments. No constitutional provision could justify such barefaced acts of corruption, not even the SC ruling which, albeit allowing her to appoint the chief justice in spite of the constitutional ban on midnight appointees, does not sanction her incursions in other executive bodies.

Indeed, it appears that GMA’s barefaced ignominies in the field of culture and arts—as well as in most aspects of national governance—has not reached its peak in her shady incursions during last year’s selection process of the National Artist Award awardees. The CAP reviles these brazen acts of abuse of power, which degrades symbolic institutions of the arts into mere cover-ups for the Arroyo administration’s extensive roster of crimes.

Arroyo’s insistence on her undemocratic midnight appointments clearly shows her attempts to secure her power at this point where her blood-filled regime is coming to its final strains. What other explanation can one garner in the face of Arroyo’s consistent depravity throughout her over-extended presidential term? It is incomprehensible that these non-transparent political maneuverings could be motivated by any nationalist or democratic vision. One needs only to look at the questionable processes by which she transforms governance into whitewashed tyranny to see that she is incapable of any such vision. Indeed, the Arroyo regime has been indelibly marked by the innumerable evils she has perpetuated, conveniently censored and sugarcoated precisely by such underhanded manipulations in the ranks of symbolic, authoritative bodies.

The CAP enjoins members of the Filipino community to unite against GMA’s last-ditch efforts at perpetuating her regime of corruption and violent repression. At this point, it is no wonder that GMA should attempt to defend her unlawful midnight appointments with her own appointee on the seat of the chief justice guarding her back. However, the CAP calls upon the people of the nation not to stay silent and be vigilant against such dastardly attempts at impinging upon our freedom and democracy.

With the 2010 elections coming and GMA scrambling for the last vestiges of her political cachet, we must rise up and move to show that the Filipinos will not condone any further persistence of Arroyo’s totalitarian manipulations. The tyrannical choreographies must end here, now.




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