During the Marcos regime, Imelda had a vision to make the Philippines a center of fashion, art, and culture. She implemented this vision through various million-dollar infrastructure projects. Such projects included the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which was meant to promote and preserve Filipino art.
It was established in 1966 and was designed by Leandro Locsin, a Filipino architect (who appreciated the use of concrete, as you can tell by the facade of the main building.) On its opening day in 1969, there was a three-month celebration with a musical and other series of events. It was that big of a deal that even Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Reagan were in attendance!
Over the years, the Cultural Center of the Philippines has hosted countless plays, dances, concerts, films, exhibits and other art performances and showcases. One of the center’s performance companies includes the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company, which we discussed in class. The birth of the Bayanihan dance troupe originated from the physical education program at the Philippine Women’s University. Young Filipino-Americans became attracted to these modern, energetic, enjoyable and dramatic dances and incorporated these dance performances in PCNs or Pilipino Culture Nights, an extensive and enjoyable performance that Filipino organizations on college campuses put together.
Usually these PCNs cover an over-arching theme, topic or struggle that is common within the daily experiences of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans. The PCN is one play that incorporates different skits, choir sets, and dances—adopted from the Bayanihan dance company. PCNs have become a part of Filipino-American culture and the Cultural Center of the Philippines as well as the Bayanihan dance troupe helped that. Filipino-Americans now have a trivial sense of the culture is in their motherland of the Philippines.
Or do they?
As far as the dances go, how accurate are these performances, costumes, etc.? Is this how Filipinos in the Philippines really are? Are there Tinikling clubs on college campuses in the Philippines? As we read in Gaerlan’s article, some aspects of these dances have been modified and dramatized. In this sense, how are we to think of the aspect of dance in PCNs? The plays, skits, and choir suites are mostly associated with cultural conflicts between generations and the struggle of Filipino-Americans finding their identity between their cultures of America and the Philippines. The dance suites of a PCN are, in a sense, the closest thing in the play to Filipino cultural traditions. However the implications involved in modifying these dances for political or physical purposes distorts the originality and creativity of the Filipino traditional dance and because of this, the true meaning and art of this cultural tradition is lost. – K.A.