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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Manila shines as arts and culture capital

The Manila International Dance Festival, Kultura Manila, and Mister Manila are three flagship projects that bolster the status of the city as the arts and culture capital of the country.

Apart from the historic and cultural landmarks such as the walled city of Intramuros, Rizal Park, and the Metropolitan Theater, these projects, under the office of Vice Mayor John Marvin “Yul Servo” Nieto are celebrations that highlight the way of life, traditions and the many reasons why everyone keeps coming to Manila.

On September 8, the Manila International Dance Festival or MIDFest 2023 kicks off this Manila arts and culture renaissance at Rizal Park.

Around 22 groups from all over the country, plus performing dance troupes from Indonesia, India, Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand are coming together to present dances and music from different communities. Aside from Rizal Park, performances will also be at Fort Santiago, Philippine Christian University, and in partner malls.

From left: Kultura Manila head Norman Penaflorida Vice Mayor John Marvin Yul Servo Nieto, and Mister Manila pageant director Sean Lim

Festival director Archie Dema-ala says that this project celebrates diversity, peace, and unity, through dance and music. His heart is most full of the cultural and heritage discoveries and exchanges between Filipino dance artists and their international counterparts.  All the performances are free for public viewing.

Kultura Manila, meanwhile, is a fashion cultural extravaganza that is set to happen at Jones Bridge by the first week of October.

Led by fashion trailblazer Norman Penaflorida, Kultura Manila unveils a tribute to the evolution of the Filipino identity. Manila’s top-tier fashion designers will showcase their reverence for their roots through their creations. Penaflorida explains that the event will feature a diverse range of outfits, including pre-Hispanic attire, Maria Clara ensembles, Filipino barong, Philippine terno, modern haute couture, and sustainable, earth-friendly garments.

The search is on, and the pageant of Mister Manila happens also in October. As a matter of fact, the chosen candidates for the pageant will model for Kultura Manila.

Leading the Mister Manila pageant is director Sean Lim. What the pageant looks for is the quintessential man from Manila – with a great personality, emotionally intelligent, confident, with advocacy, a total maginoo that will become the face and male persona of the beloved city.

Vice Mayor Nieto explains that all these projects are most important because he knows how the arts and our culture are most helpful in making a better person. In a recollection as part of his speech during the press conference, the congenial vice mayor traced his career in entertainment with special emphasis on his acting days in Gantimpala Theater, and the mentorship and guidance of the late great director Maryo delos Reyes.

In Gantimpala Theater, his young mind and heart absorbed the beauty of the Filipino language and classical Filipino literature. He is thankful for the discipline, hard work, and professionalism of his co-actors in the theater company, and the lifelong friendships he earned from being part of Gantimpala Theater plays. From his theater learnings, he applied and put them to good use when he finally embarked on a showbiz career with the legend Delos Reyes as his manager.

Nieto became one of the finest actors of his era, possessing credibility, sincerity, and a good reputation that served as his talismans upon entering the realm of politics.

“I’m grateful to Gantimpala Theater for revealing the arts’ profound influence in nurturing patriotism and culture. My projects aim to amplify our rich heritage. I hope all in Manila and Filipinos truly embrace our arts and culture, not just in words,” said the actor-politician.

In this day and age when there seems to be a preference for foreign culture and the arts, these projects by the office of Vice Mayor are laudable and deserve all our love and support.

Dreaming the dream of Manila, being the arts and culture capital of the Philippines, is not impossible after all.

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