Goal: To make an impression of a young, creative PH
“THE GOAL was to make an impression on high-profile delegates that the Philippines is a youthful, inclusive, innovative and creative society,” said Chris Millado, artistic director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
The agency was requested by the National Organizing Council for the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, which the Philippines is hosting from Nov. 17 to 20, to handle all the entertainment programs for the Apec meets since December 2014.
“We wanted to dovetail with the efforts of the Department of Tourism in terms of how to project the Philippines to the delegates,” Millado said in an interview at his office in Pasay City.
There were 18 shows assigned to the CCP that were done in different locations like Manila, Pampanga, Tagaytay, Boracay, Iloilo and Cebu.
“The events should also be guided by the sense of pride of each province and the specific cultures of the hosting party,” Millado explained. “The events should also include mass numbers, but at the same time the performers should all be professionals and not amateurs.”
The ministerial meeting on Nov. 13 at SMX Convention Center Hall 1 in Pasay City will be “a celebration of modern art,” Millado said, adding that the dance group Junior New System, a grand finalist in this year’s “Asia’s Got Talent” contest, its main anchor.
Singer-actress Bituin Escalante will also perform, while graffiti artists finish their creation on a wall that will also serve as the show’s backdrop.
The next ministerial conference on Nov. 16, to be held at the Marriott Hotel in Pasay City, will focus on “the different sounds of the Philippines,” said Millado. Loy Arcenas will direct the show.
The Spouse’s Event on Nov. 19 at the Intramuros grounds will be “a walk back in history,” Millado said. “The ladies will tour the area and look at tableau reenacting the Spanish colonial period.”
The People’s Gala at the CCP Main Theater on Nov. 20 is free to the public, Millado said. “It’s the culmination of all the shows we’ve mounted. We will bring all of them here. The audience will get a glimpse of what happened during the whole run.”
Millado added: “Filipinos are known for partying so we highlighted that aspect of our culture. At the end of most of our shows, we had all the delegates up on their feet, dancing—and they loved it.”
The event at Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga focused on the “sporty, outdoor and adventure spirit.”
Among the main attractions was Beatbox Gor, who became famous for his ability to mimic the sound of drum machines using his lips.
He performed with a live bicycle exhibition in the backdrop. The program culminated with the well-synchronized flight of hot air balloons.
Millado said the CCP wanted delegates to have the “feel of tranquility and serenity” during the conference in Tagaytay City.
“We had young, classical singers perform at Taal Vista Lodge with the majestic Taal Lake as backdrop,” he said.
Two events were held in Boracay. “We wanted to immerse guests in an island party experience,” Millado told the Inquirer. The sound on both nights was 1980s disco music.
The shows were spearheaded by Escalante, who worked with disc jockeys and with Ballet Philippines. They performed medleys of Gloria Gaynor, Abba, Donna Summer, among others.
The stage was designed by Leeroy New—an art installation that evoked the giant shapes of corals and sea creatures on the beach. “There was dancing that went on and on; and that lasted longer than the entire show. There were fire dancers and sand-castle builders—all these to capture the Boracay island experience,” Millado said.
The event in Cebu in September featured the Sinulog experience. “Beatles songs became the main sound bed. It’s part of the 1960s and was almost like a silent nod to the generation of the delegates,” Millado said.
“We picked the iconic song ‘Here Comes the Sun’ as title to gesture toward the rising of the Visayas region from the calamities.” The main musical anchors were the Reo Brothers, four musicians who are also survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in 2013.
Millado said the show became “a gesture of resiliency and creativity of young people.” Other performers were the Mandaue Children’s Choir and the Lumad Basakanon, who all donned fabulous costumes. There was street dancing, too.
The Iloilo event in October carried the Dinagyang theme. Delegates from the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Brunei, among others, were offered the popular local dish batchoy.
They also toured century-old mansions, ancient churches and restored buildings in the area. There was also an exhibit of goods made from indigenous materials.
4 most challenging aspects
Millado said mounting these events had been really tough. He enumerated four aspects that proved to be most challenging. “It was not the weather but securing the budget that eventually became the most difficult problem to tackle,” he added. “While the government had already secured funds for this, it’s our system that’s not used to disbursing budget for shows but mostly for infrastructure and roads.”
Another aspect is logistics, “especially if the show was done outdoors,” Millado said. The Boracay twin events had been difficult since a massive set built in Manila had to be transported to the island by crossing seas.
“There’s also the aspect of building on a shore, as opposed to building inside a theater with a controlled environment. That’s also why rehearsals were scheduled when the sun had set,” he said.
The third issue was security. “The preparations took six to eight months. We had to regularly meet with local government units in relation to security detailing, traffic, parking as well as pickup and drop-off points. This was vital in dealing with high-profile ministers of economies,” Millado said.
Lastly, there was the issue of food. “We’re dealing with different cultures with specific cultural culinary concerns. For example, halal food had to be made readily available. There’s also the concern of serving food outdoors,” Millado said.
Asked what he learned from the whole experience, Millado said: “We should not be afraid to show how it is like to be a Filipino. We can borrow from other cultures, but when we do things we should do it the Filipino way. We should be confident with what we already do best and present it again in the best way we can. I think that’s what has been our recipe for the success of the shows,” he said.
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