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Bringing art to farmers and fishermen

By MARGIE MORAN FLOIRENDO, The Philippine STAR Published May 01, 2023 5:00 am

If there’s a sacrosanct roster in the Philippine industry, it would be that of both teachers and farmers: As one group nurtures the Filipino mind, so does the other nourish the Filipino body. In a country where agriculture and fishery play significant roles in its economy and provide essential employment in rural communities, our farmers and fishermen have kept the nation nourished through the years.

And yet, these sectors face various constraints such as low productivity, limited connectivity, weak resilience, and little government support. They are, most of the time, unappreciated and undervalued.

While the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) might not have the capacity to provide the infrastructures and financial needs to transform the country’s agriculture into a dynamic and high-growth sector, we can honor and pay tribute to our farmers and fishermen for what they do for our food security and national development through our Sining Alay sa Manggagawa (Art for Workers/Laborers) program under the Art in the Workplace (AIWP) sector.

Farmers and kids gather onstage (with CCP bags) at the Sining Alay sa Manggagawa (Art for Workers/Laborers) program.

In 2012, the CCP launched the program through its Cultural Exchange Department. It has reached over 5,000 audiences nationwide in 20 public offices, workplaces, and other venues. In addition, it has featured over 340 local artists, mobilizing the Kaisa Sa Sining network to engage broader participation and reach.

Last year, over 300 beneficiaries in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, Roxas City in Capiz, and Munoz City in Nueva Ecija attended the program. All expressed nothing but gratitude for the tribute they received for the first time.

With the participation of local artists and support from various local organizations, AIWP highlights the valuable contributions of these sectors in alleviating the living conditions in the local communities, especially during the pandemic, and brings the country’s most prominent performing groups and individuals to an exceptional cultural experience through creative presentations.

Ciriaco Olipas, a farmer from Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya, takes the stage.

Last March 31, the outreach program headed to Nueva Vizcaya Convention Center, located in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, to honor farmers and teachers from the region.

Through the program, we aim to bring arts closer to the various work sectors in government and other industries and give them the recognition they deserve.

Kami sa sektor ng sining at kultura ay naniniwala na ang buhay ay walang saysay at sigla kung walang sining.

For the Luzon leg of AIWP for 2023, the CCP gave tribute to 53 farmers and 55 public school teachers through exceptional performances and art presentations from Nueva Vizcaya Singers, Ari Tau Folkloric Society, Lakbai Guitar Duo, and the Song Weavers Philippines. The CCP also showed special video performances featuring the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hinugyaw Dance Troupe of Koronadal City, and the Silliman Dance Troupe of Dumaguete City.

“Kami sa sektor ng sining at kultura ay naniniwala na ang buhay ay walang saysay at sigla kung walang sining. Ang CCP ay may mahalagang responsibilidad na mapanatiling buhay ang sining at kulturang Filipino. Maisasagawa lamang ang gampanin na ito kung ilalapit ang sining sa mga mamamayan sa iba’t ibang komunidad sa buong bansa at maging sa mundo,” shared CCP CED head Carmencita J. Bernardo.

Perhaps feeling that Philippine society had somewhat forgotten them, our farmers and educators were grateful for the small gesture the CCP made towards their sector that day. They felt that their hard labor was finally being recognized and given importance.

The CCP plans to intensify its outreach programs and reach more people in the regions. The AIWP will continue this April and May in Palawan and Tawi Tawi. We are looking forward to meeting workers in our future outreach events.