NEW YORK – The Philippine Consulate in New York and the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) will inaugurate the latest Sentro Rizal site in New York City on Dec. 30 at the Kalayaan Hall, Philippine Center on Dec. 30 at 6 p.m. The new site is in line with Section 42 of Republic Act 10066, known as the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, which specifies a center “whose main purpose is the promotion of Philippine arts, culture, and language throughout the world.”
Consul General Elmer G. Cato and Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso, chairman of NCCA, are featured speakers that night. Lizaso, a descendant of the national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal, is also president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
According to Sentro Rizal, a program of NCCA, its “vision is a culturally-literate overseas Filipino communities.” Moreover, “Sentro Rizal acts as the balangay which provides overseas Filipinos and their children the means to connect to their roots – instilling a strong sense of nationhood and pride among them in being Filipinos.”
The consulate held a forum, Philippine Culture and the Diaspora: An Introduction to Sentro Rizal in New York on Dec. 16, as a prelude to the inauguration. Veteran Filipina actress Lorli Villanueva emceed the event.
“All of you here could continue to contribute to cultural diplomacy by being de facto cultural ambassadors yourselves, of your homeland, the Philippines,” Cato remarked during the event.
He encouraged Filipinos in New York and the US to wear “the Philippine brand on your sleeve. And the Philippine brand refers not only to your exceptional work ethic and dedication – which Filipinos are renowned for.” “[It also] pertains to the soft power of the Philippines – our culture, arts, languages, traditions, and heritage,” he said. “As de facto ambassadors, [you] have the privilege to foster and share with other kababayan, second-generation Filipino-Americans, and foreigners alike here in our part of the United States.”
Lizaso also spoke about the CCP and the NCCA. He engaged the audience with a sense of humor, sharing his story of bringing art to all regions in the Philippines. “Art is for everybody,” he said. “Art is inclusive, not exclusive.”
Noli Me Tangere The Opera
In 2017, the CCP produced Noli Me Tangere The Opera based on Rizal’s novel directed by Jerry Sibal of New York.
Although Rizal’s novel required reading in schools, Lizaso said he did not fully understand it until working with Sibal’s J&S Productions. CCP presented the opera not only in Manila but throughout the Philippines. Lizaso noted that the live production affected the emotional response of people.
“When you feel something …you begin to understand,” he said.
He brought back Noli Me Tangere the Opera to all regions of the Philippines in 2019 and plans to have it presented again in 2022. He has also arranged national tours for the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, Ballet Philippines, Madrigal Singers, and other arts groups. In addition, he has plans to present a film about Lapu Lapu and bring Philippine artists to New York and the US in June 2022.
Cato invited everyone to support future programs of Sentro Rizal New York, which will open to coincide with the 125th death anniversary of the national hero.
NCCA formally established the Sentro Rizal in June 2011 to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Rizal.
There are 35 Sentro sites across the globe, and NCCA will inaugurate another in New York City. In Section 43 of RA 10066, it states that the Sentro Rizal “shall be a repository, inter alia, of materials on Philippine arts, culture, and language: books, digital video discs, compact discs, films, magazines, artworks, tourism promotion materials, information materials, etc. that shall be made available to the public, both Filipino and foreign.” Accordingly, “SR shall also organize cultural programs and activities for Filipinos, especially for children overseas, to promote appreciation and understanding of Philippine culture and the arts.”
P-Pop SB19 named NCCA’s Youth and Sentro Rizal Ambassador
NCCA named The P-Pop SB19 as NCCA’s youth and Sentro Rizal ambassador on Dec. 15 “because of their genuine care for advocacies that uplift the Filipino spirit, music and culture to the global scene.” The NCCA also said they chose SB19 “because of their willingness to support the NCCA’s endeavors.”
NCCA said in a Facebook post that it raised awareness of the nomination of SB19, the first Filipino group nominated in the Billboard Music Awards (BBMA) for 2021 Top Social Artist, last May. Their nomination had USA’s Ariana Grande, K-pop giants BTS and Blackpink, and Seventeen of Korea in the list.
“As the prime agency that safeguards, develops and promotes Filipino arts and culture, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) encourages everyone to support mainstream Filipino artists,” the commission added.
Although a South Korean entertainment company trained SB19, it is known for its Filipino songs. Their goal is to bring Original Pilipino Music (OPM) to the world stage and represent the Filipino identity through the language and stories in their music. — With Ricky Rillera/PDM