Category Archives: Arts and Culture

#304 Balanghai

Remnants of a balanghai exhibited in Butuan

The balanghai is a large boat used by Malay settlers of the Philippines in pre-Hispanic times. The vessel, first excavated in Butuan province in Mindanao, was about 18 meters in length and could carry a small clan or a large family.

Since the 10th century, Butuan appeared to have good relations with the Srivijayan Empire. Balanghais often docked in Butuan Bay and the shipping route has stimulated  business between the local people of Butuan and traders from the neighboring empire. The balanghais were first excavated in the 1970s and carbon-dating showed that the boats were almost a thousand years old.

Building a  balanghai requires teamwork and the word balanghai later on evolved into the word ‘barangay,’ which us the smallest politica (grassroots) unit in the Philippines.  The balanghais, thus, did not  just denote a wooden boat but also stood as a symbol for social unit (Source: My Secret Philippines blog and other sources).

Mabuhay ang balanghai!

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#303 Kadayawan Festival

The Kadayawan Festival is annually held in Davao City, Mindanao, southern  Philippines. Kadayawan is derived from the friendly greeting “Madayaw“, from the Dabawenyo word “dayaw”, meaning good, valuable, superior or beautiful. The festival is a celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, the bounties of harvest and serenity of living.

Today, Kadayawan has been transformed into a festival of festivals, with a number of spin-off festivals in the region. The festival honors Davao’s artistic, cultural and historical heritage, its past personified by the ancestral “lumads”, its people as they celebrate on the streets, and its floral industry as its representatives parade in full regalia in thanksgiving for the blessings granted on the city. The celebration interfaces three aspects- tribal, industrial and the arts and entertainment. The festivities are highlighted with floral floats, street-dancing competitions and exhibits that showcases the island’s tourism products and services.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Mabuhay ang Kadayawan Festival!

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#301 Central Bank Money Museum

Within the complex of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines, Roxas Blvd. Manila), the Philippines’ central monetary authority, is the Museo ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Inaugurated on January 3, 1999, as part of the celebration of the 50 years of central banking in the Philippines, the museum showcases the Bank’s collection of currencies.

As repository and custodian of the country’s numismatic heritage, the museum collects, studies and preserves coins, paper notes, medals, artifacts and monetary items found in the Philippines during its different historical periods. These collections are on permanent display at the museum.

Designed to “walk” the visitor through a number of galleries, individually dedicated to a specific historical period of the country, the museum visually narrates the development of the Philippine economy, parallel to the evolution of its currency. Complementary paintings from the bank’s art collection, together with chosen artifacts, enhance each gallery (Source: Central Bank of the Philippines)

Mabuhay ang Philippine peso!

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#300 University of the Philippines

The Oblation statue is an iconic symbol of the U.P. system

The University of the Philippines (Unibersidad ng Pilipinas in Filipino, commonly abbreviated as U.P.) is the national university of the Philippines. Founded in 1908 during the Philippine-American colonial era, the U.P. currently provides the largest number of degree programs in the country.

The Senate of the Philippines also recognizes UP as “the nation’s premier university”. Seven of fifteen Philippine Presidents have attended courses in the University either as undergraduates or as postgraduate students, while 12 Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, 36 out of the 57 National Artists and 34 out of the 35 National Scientists are affiliated with the University.

 U.P. has the most National Centers of Excellence and Development among higher education institutions in the Philippines and one of only three schools in Asia that have received institutional recognition in the Ramon Magsaysay Awards. The U.P. system is partly subsidized by the Philippine government.

Students of the university and its graduates are referred to “Scholars of the Nation.” Admission into the University is extremely competitive. In 2006, 70,000 applicants took the entrance exams for undergraduate admission. Around 11,000 of the applicants were admitted for the year 2006, an acceptance rate of about 18% for the whole of the UP system (Source: Wikipedia).

Mabuhay ang U.P.!


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#296 Cultural Center of the Philippines

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (Sentrong Pangkultura ng Pilipinas) or simply the CCP is located in the cities of Pasay and Manila and was opened in 1969 supposedly to promote Filipino arts and culture.

During the 1960s the CCP was viewed as one of the most controversial centrepiece cultural projects of the Marcos regime not only for its scale and financing but also for its socio-cultural impact and political objectives.  Since its opening, it has showcased the Bolshoi, Kirov, Royal Danish ballets, as well as contemporary American, French, German, and Philippine companies.

Created by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1966 through presidential fiat, with the stated aim of promoting Filipino arts and culture, the building or complex was formally inaugurated on September 8, 1969. The Center’s formal inauguration was attended by a number of international personalities, including then California  Governor and Mrs. Ronald Reagan, who represented US President Richard Nixon. 

Today, the CCP has survived the Marcos era and showcases Filipino artistic achievements, encourages the creation of original works inspired by Filipino tradition and helps makes the arts accessible. It also initiates and supports the establishment of regional or local cultural centers in cooperation with local groups. But the stigma of cultural elitism remains, though not as strong as during the Marcos regime.

The main theatre building located along Roxas Boulevard is one of the architectural highlights in the area, but the construction of the CCP triggered violent protests in the late 1960s when it displaced hundreds of fishing village families displaced by the Manila Bay land reclamation project (Wikipedia and other sources).

Long live Philippine arts and culture!

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#295 Pangkat Kawayan

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The “Pangkat Kawayan” (literally ‘Bamboo Band’) otherwise known as the “Singing Bamboo of the Philippines ” is a unique orchestra that draws music from unconventional bamboo instruments. This orchestra is composed of musically – talented students from the elementary schools of Quezon City and Manila whose ages range from 8 to 19 years.

The orchestra is managed by Victor O. Toledo, conductor and musical Director. The same group has led the orchestra through the years since September 6, 1966 when it was founded.

The group’s musical instruments, numbering more than a hundred, are made of six genera of the versatile bamboo in various sizes, shapes and designs. Included are the bamboo tube or “bumbong,” the bamboo marimba or” “talungating,” the bamboo piano or “tipangklung,” the bamboo flute or “tulali,” the bamboo knockers or “kalatok,” and the bamboo musiscal rattles, the Philippine “angklung”. Completing the bamboo assortments are the drums, cymbals gong and triangle.

The forte of this bamboo band is native Philippine songs, mostly folksongs from different regions of the country. However, the group’s repertoire also includes folk melodies from other countries, modern and popular music and some light classics.  (Source:

Mabuhay ang Pangkat Kawayan!

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#291 Higantes Festival

Photo: WikiPilipinas

Higantes Festival, also known as the Feast of San Clemente, is celebrated every November 23 in the town of Angono, Rizal. This is a major festival in honor of San Clemente, the patron saint of fishermen.

His image is carried by male devotees during a procession accompanied by “pahadores” (devotees dressed in colorful local costumes or fishermen’s clothes, wearing wooden shoes and carrying boat paddles, fish nets, traps, etc.) and “higantes” (paper-mâché giants measuring 10-12 feet in height and 4-5 feet in diameter). This street event ends in a procession to Laguna de Bay until the image is brought back to its sanctuary. (Source: WikiPilipinas)

Long live Philippine festivals!

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