Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sunrise Festival

One of the great things about Dumaguete is the diversity you can find here. Speaking now in terms of arts and culture, you can find everything from jazz, art shows, Disco, Rock music, to poetry readings. Traveling shows and festivals also come to Dumaguete streets. The Sunrise Festival is one of these.

The Sunrise Festival is held every year at different locations around the Philippines. Sponsored and produced by the Maharlika Writers and Artists Federation, it presents a view of the Philippines often lost in its rush to join the 21rst Century. It emphasizes Philippine traditional dance and music, as well as contemporary commentary on Philippine life. Any given Sunrise Festival is a mix of concert and recital, dance and sculpture. Not bound by traditional sense of art, Maharlika makes art on the fly, creating both physical manifestations of creative energy, and more ephemeral live music and performance art. When the Sunrise Festival is over after a week of descending on a venue, there is little residue or evidence of its presence. Instead the Festival is about the process, the act of producing an experience unlike that in which most art and music are observed.

If you go to merely watch the proceedings at the nightly festivities, you are very likely to become a participant, applying body paint and dancing with the performers, or grabbing a drum and joining a morning drum circle. It’s like that.

Maharlika celebrates authentic Philippine culture, reinventing ancient arts and combining them with contemporary expressions. The participants, who come from all parts of the Philippines, represent the Elite among Philippine artists. Some bring with them crafts and arts to sell. Camping on site is the preferred lodging, and affords and promotes the communal atmosphere at The Sunrise Festival. Stories are exchanged and old friendships are rekindled.

I was very fortunate to be introduced to these wonderful phenomena by Susan Canoy a local artist in Dumaguete. Affectionately called mother Susan, she is well known here and a very nice person. She was instrumental in getting me an invitation to join the Festival with a display of my Photographs. As the local coordinator for the festival here in Dumaguete during its 2006 visit, she worked tirelessly to line up venues, hang the artwork, and make sure everything went smoothly.

The Sunrise festival has been held in such places as Boracay, and Bagio in 2007, and hopefully will visit Dumaguete again soon. I met some great folks and made some very interesting contacts far a wide throughout the Philippines.

I’ll post a few links to photo sites and information pages. If you get a chance to experience the Sunrise Festival while visiting the Philippines, I highly recommend it.

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