Tag Archives: Ferdinand Marcos

#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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#167 Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary

For those who have not experienced an African safari, a Philippine version is the Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary in Calauit Island in Busuanga, northern Palawan, Philippines.

The island, located on the northeast coast of Palawan, is a 3,700-hectare game preserve and wildlife sanctuary. About 40% of the island is plain, 20% moderately undulating and 40% mountainous. Elevation of mountain ranges is from 500 to 900 feet. A major part of the island is less than 200 feet above sea level. To get to the island, adventurous travellers can fly from Manila to Busuanga by chartered plane. 

The Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary dates back to 1976, when fresh from a Third World Conference former President Ferdinand Marcos answered a call to save endangered African animals. By virtue of a presidential decree issued on August 31, 1976, Calauit Island was declared a forest preserve and wildlife sanctuary managed by the private, non-profit Conservation and Resource Management Foundation.

In 1977, eight species of African animals from Kenya were brought to Calauit via the ship MV Salvador. This veritable Noah’s Ark held giraffes, zebras, impalas, waterbucks, gazelles, eland, topi and bushbacks. From the original stock of giraffes, zebras, bushbucks, elands, topis, waterbucks, impalas and gazelles roaming free without natural predators, the animal population has quadrupled over a 10-year period to almost 500 heads.

To make room for the wildlife, some 250 families of islanders were relocated and compensated with land titles on another island, a move highly criticised by opponents of Marcos. Critics also accused the Marcos government of transforming the island into a private safari, frequented by his coterie of friends and selected foreign guests.

Today, the Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary, however anachronistic its roots maybe in a tropical setting, attracts its regular share of tourists and visitors.

Long live Philippine wildlife!

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# 144 EDSA

The masses of people gathering at EDSA for the People Power Revolt. Wikipedia photo

EDSA or the Epifanio De los Santos Avenuem (a non-descript busy avenue) took a crucial place in modern Philippine history in February 1986 when masses of people marched and assembled to this avenue in Mandaluyong city in support of a military-church-backed popular people’s revolt against the Marcos dictatorship.

After the Philippine generals Fidel Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile publicly withdrew their support on February 22, 1986 from Ferdinand Marcos, who was accused of widespread cheating in the 1986 elections, the influential Catholic Church and opposition leader Corazon Aquino (later installed as president) followed suit by calling for the so-called ‘People Power Revolt’ to force the ouster of Marcos.

Nuns, church leaders, middle-class Filipinos joined left-wing activists and street protestors to face military tanks and police forces deployed by Marcos to EDSA. For several days, the 24-hour peaceful vigil protests and prayer rallies were held on EDSA, near the military complexes Camp Aguinaldo and Crame where Enrile and Ramos were holed out, ignoring the arrest warrants issued by the Marcos government.

Three days later on February 25, Marcos, with US help and intervention, fled to Hawaii with his family to escape charges of corruption, human rights abuses and siphoning off the country’s wealth. Aquino was also sworn to presidency on the same day to bring home the message to the Marcoses of their illegitimate claim  to power.

What was later called the EDSA Revolution is annually marked every February 25 near the crossing of Ortigas Avenue and EDSA , but the bouyant spirit and hope for genuine change kindled among Filipinos during the days following the Marcos ouster fizzled out when it became apparent that little has changed (even up to now) in the lives of the average Filipino.

Long live the true EDSA spirit!

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