For people who love all kinds, forms, and shapes of art, the Pasinaya Festival is one event that they never want to miss out on. Home based at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Pasinaya is an annual event that features different artists and various forms of art (film, theatre, dance, market, museums, etc) and stretches on the distance range from CCP to Intramuros. The festival is known as the largest multi-arts festival in the country – and seeing it first-hand proves it.
Although stretched a mile along common roads in Manila, I chose to visit its main venue: CCP. Upon arriving, you’d already find a lot of people outside (and “a lot” is an understatement). They were either having snacks, trying to buy food albeit having to wait on long lines inside restaurants and stalls, taking photos, or watching street performances (along P. Bukaneg St., as the street was closed for the event). Everything around me moved & made sounds. As I waited for my companion, I stood on a sidewalk along Bukaneg and in front of me were people lining up at food stalls; to my left were performers walking towards what seemed to be their entrance; my right was a sight of street performances (it was lunchtime when I arrived, and during that time the performances were presented by a group of people with “tambay” on their name); and behind me, I could hear instruments playing along with vocals to the tune of Freddie Aguilar’s Bayan Ko.
Given the view of the sea of people I tried to not get lost in, one would see Pasinaya 2016’s theme (“Family and Children”) coming to life as families walked together, with the eagerness of spending their Sunday by joining the hundreds of people (and more families) choosing to enjoy this year’s offer of various arts. (And unless you’re used to going to different places, it really isn’t advisable to go to Pasinaya alone: you’d miss on photo opportunities (as the only choice you have to have a photo of you and an artwork is to take a selfie), you wouldn’t enjoy being lost in the crowd, and you’d have no one to tell of how you feel seeing one thing or another (i.e: reaction to a film, the different exhibits, etc)).
Watching Pinagbuklod ng Talento Tambay (the aforementioned group I suddenly recalled the name), you’d see that their dances are very passionate- filled with emotions and love for what they do. While watching them perform, my friend arrived and we registered to get in. The festival had a suggested “donation,” (or starting price) valued at P20. We paid and got ourselves a schedule of the shows (and a “ticket” to be wrapped around our wrists), and went in, finally.
We went in line in front of Dream Theater, which was the line for 2 short films: “Ang Maangas, Ang Marikit, Ang Makata” and “Ang Kapitbahay Ko, 2014.” The theatre was small, only to accommodate probably about a hundred people just. The first short film shown was, and the story I loved among the two (so it’s what I choose to write about) is “Ang Kapitbahay Ko,” a project of UP Mass Communications students.
The film opens with two small girls, living in two different buildings, both on the 31st floor, windows facing each other – and this is how they (try to) communicate with each other. With a road separating them, the two play with each other in creative ways and one (and the first seen on the film) was with their hands. They’d mirror each other: the first girl moves and the other copies. The film goes on like this, revolving on the two girls, how they’d “meet” after school, play tic-tac-toe in the best way they can (by painting on the windows on different sight perspectives), be creative as they also had puppet shows to show each other, and look through each other’s innocence by using binoculars to see the other across the road and the windows in front of them. The film exposed such purity in the way the two girls treated and interacted with each other: they were literally “so close, yet so far.” One day, though, as one of them looked at the unit across through binoculars, she found balikbayan boxes all around the unusually clean room. Without hesitation, and by smartly (although risky) escaping from her yaya, the girl went down, crossed the street (this scene, albeit usual, was pretty scary as she was so young and it was so dangerous), and went up to the other building’s 31st floor, knocking on every unit on that floor as she tried to find where the other girl lived. Knocking on the last unit, she was about to walk away as she felt hopeless when the door opened and the two finally meet face to face. She introduces herself as Kela, and waits for the other to speak. To her mild surprise, however, the other girl made sign languages (might have spelled out her name), then asked an adult (who was probably her mother) for a writing board on which she wrote her name: Ana – and with this, the film ends.
The film was really touching because to have two kids show you the value of friendship is not a usual scene in the modern (film) industry. Their innocence at a young age gives one who watches a feeling of peace within, knowing that films like this, and kids like those casted, (still) exist to teach us the value of our relationship with other people.
An open-ending to ponder on, I’d like to think that after meeting, they two girls remain friends. Even if it seemed that Ana is moving to another house, having to leave their fresh memories of two units across one road, they keep in touch; and that it didn’t matter if Ana was disabled. Her inability to speak is not a hindrance for her to be friends with, and be a loving sister to, Kena.
And so it gives us another insight, one that we should have known for a long time, and keep in our minds: that people’s disabilities are not measurements of their ability and capacity to feel, to love, to enjoy life, and to be happy around people. They are as normal as we are, as caring as we are; they are all the things that we are, too. The friendship we create with them are as valuable as any other relationship we create with other people – perhaps more special, even. And in the case of Kena and Ana, their young bond will bloom into a more beautiful friendship as they grow old and find that there’s more to life that they can share with each other – no longer confined in separate rooms and parted by roads and windows, nor bounded by “sleeping time,” and different whiles.
Of all the things I saw and enjoyed at Pasinaya 2016, it was this film: a reminder of family values and friendships. ** So there was another film, (which I choose not to elaborate *hehe) and a lot more sights: there were folk dances, more exhibits stationed on different floors, workshops and other films (that we didn’t get to see and enjoy because of the long lines (and the theaters’ lack of seats)), and as we went out after watching a theatrical performance (the last we saw that day), there continued more dances: dances offered to Sto. Nino (still held along Bukaneg St.), and an although-usual-still-breath-taking dance performance by students from Perpetual University).
That ended our Pasinaya experience. It was fun, I must say, despite the sea of people that we had to crowd with and try to pass through to see more of what was in store for those who attended the festival. The Pasinaya Festival indeed showcases local art in the best way it can – at a cheap price and simultaneously. Wherever you went, you’d either see or hear something- art was everywhere and ceased only when you leave. As “bitin” as it sounds since there’s still this mile-long experience and different museums we could have seen and visited, the CCP experience was enough to prove to us that art is not dead in the country – that there’s still so much more to see and appreciate. ü