Tuesday, August 24, 1999

Cause-Oriented CCP

(this mini-satire first appeared on the May 28, 1990 issue of National Midweek)

photo borrowed from http://www.dmcinet.com/Glo_Signatureccp_projects.asp

"CAUSE-ORIENTED, supposedly, but not the way you think when you say it, sir. You see, ladies and gentlemen of the tourist bus, our CCP is currently trying the course of five main causes: Filipinization, democratization, decentralization, development of artistic excellence, and promotion of international cultural relations, none of which is doing most of us any good yet, but that's because the people don't cooperate.
    "Now, if you care to open your handouts entitled 'The New Orientation of the CCP', you will see in the first page that the Center is 'mandated by Philippine laws to preserve, promote, and enhance the Filipino people's cultural heritage. . . .' Well, in this 'enhancement' of our heritage, ladies and gentlemen of the tourist bus, this edifice's function suddenly becomes laudable, because original, ladies and gentlemen with binoculars. Now, everybody, maybe this enhancement decree could clarify itself for your better understanding in the next clause of the sentence -- 'seek', it says, 'to help evolve and develop a Filipino national culture', ladies and gentlemen, all in the hope really of molding a National Identity, you understand; supposedly the mission of this expensive institution, er, exciting edifice, but not the way you think when you really think how it might do it, which shall be in the spirit of brilliance.
    "I said expensive, did I, ladies and gentlemen? -- well, it's because this theater hall here at the edge of Manila really really allows for a maintenance and operations budget that would probably startle extravagant moviegoers who pay cultural taxes for, say, the subsidy of very nice CCP ballet shows they don't care about (but that's only temporary, we hope, this indifference I mean); so, we really should make the most out of the CCP. I mention taxpayers, leys, ge'men, and making the most out of the CCP, because I'm for the expansion still even of the Center (among others) as a conspicuous excess, if not, uh, a necessary cosmopolitan decor in our expenditure manifest, ok? I mean if people pay taxes, then we must show where it's going. What we do is put on ballet shows, classical symphony shows, many, many.
    "You'd imagine the Cultural Center sounds like a culture research center but, no, sir, ma'am. We do more than that. This here to your left, oh we are now entering the complex, is the CCP building's main entrance! The CCP, leys/ge'men, in case you don't already know, is really designed, ladies and gentlemen of the tourist bus, to promote a pool of national aesthetics that everyone can refer to if they can't find anything to refer to anymore, like if they don't know themselves already; and besides then they would become legitimate citizens of the republic, so to speak, because this is a government project! Yes!
    "Ladies and gentlemen of the tourist bus, your attention please that this institution was mandated to enhance the people's cultural heritage and 'evolve and develop a national culture', lest you forget. It sounds ambitious to you, maybe, but, everybody -- we always appoint, y'see, brilliant professors here, as it were, not to be underrated, oh yes! some artists too who can't keep up with the competition in the free market maybe so we grant them help, well, the professors do, I mean that's their job, they are there to decide what shape our culture should have, and, uhm, who among their friends should join them.
    "Actually, we might allow this to be called the Art Center of the Philippines, as (well, just so you'd understand) . . . as the Union of Soviet Writers was sometimes the Literature Center of Soviet Russia, well, when it was yet in power, just so you'd understand, since we don't have such body of censors in the Philippines. Oh hoho, censorship, we cannot allow it at the moment because it's pointless. Okay, sir, . . . so you ask: why not? Well, it's simple. I cannot answer that question because it already has the answer. Art and culture are one. You meddle with one, you should meddle with the other.
    "But, you know, ours is a democratic country. We do allow other institutions, even gangs who call themselves art councils, to promote their own subcultures; but, as we keep saying, that would not stop us from soliciting taxes from them to promote our idea of what our culture should be.
    "So, now, please, let's talk about the professors. Now, these guys, here appointed to run the course of the causes of the institution, have designed, oh, high culture programs for literature, music, dance, etc.! and that's to pump up the height of the nation's taste, ladies and gentlemen of the bus. We shall be having, for example, a quarterly journal of literature which no one would read because this involves artforms in literature that have been academicized and thus not popular anymore -- but we'll let the people pay taxes for it so it'll give them a lesson. Everybody should be pro-nation. We shall also be exhibiting cause-oriented social realist, pro-environment paintings, even, at our gallery for moneyed gallery-hoppers and factory-owning collectors; we shall even be appropriating ethnic arts for artists who might find use for them in the urbanized space of the complex, so they'd attract magazine interviews simply by their weirdness. In turn, we shall be sending ballet shows to the provinces where people would probably, most probably, have no idea what the sacred elements of ballet might be, so they too would learn how and when they should cry 'bravo!' -- that's very important.
    "Speaking of provinces, ladies and gentlemen, since we are a democratic country we shall be democratizing and decentralizing our Center, as a matter of course, and that'll be through our outreach program. It shall be successful, in the long run of plane fares, hotel accommodations, resort seminars, etc., and we're optimistic we'll have a great party with our little brothers and sisters with their little CCPs in the provinces. There will come a day when they, too, shall be able to build little CCP theaters with fountains, so that in the long run they'll be able to appoint their resident little sopranos. But as of the moment that is remote because we lack finances, that is why we shall have a seminar at Boracay this Sunday so we can discuss how we can expand our profits. MABUHAY!"  [VSV]