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The CCP on its 50th year of journey

At first it was just a spoken word that no one dared to listen. A few years later someone gave life to the word and it started wandering from one place to another, pleading for financial support. But its plea fell on deaf ears and the spoken word became an empty dream.   

The art edifice that is Cultural Center of the Philippines located in Roxas Boulevard

In 1966, former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos brought the word to the doorsteps of American billionaire John Rockefeller III and told him: "On the first year, I'll cover the soil. On the second year, I'll drive the pile. On the third year, the building will rise. On the fourth year, the curtain will rise." The former first lady, however, returned home empty handed. 

                    Two of the most important art creations to celebrate the 50th year of CCP—the lighted lantern of CCP giant logo and

                   the “Ginintuang Sining” art work with baybayan letters

To lighten the disappointment of the former first lady, President Ferdinand Marcos issued Executive Order No. 30 in 1966 establishing the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the word she was referring to. Although an independent corporation of the Philippine government, the CCP receives an annual subsidy and is placed under the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) for purposes of policy coordination. The CCP is controlled by an 11-member Board of Trustees, currently headed by Chairperson Margarita Moran-Floirendo. Its current president is Arsenio Lizaso.

                     The CCP giant emblem as it is being danced away by the Koryolab Choreographers

Before the turn of the 20th century, artistic performances were primarily held in plazas and other public places around the country. In Manila, the Manila Grand Opera House, constructed in the mid-19th Century, served as the primary venue for many stage plays, operas and zarzuelas and other notable events of national significance.

             Visual artist TOYM Imao as he talks about the unveiling if the “Ginintuang Sining” art work to mark CCP’s golden year anniversary

Conditions improve with the construction of the Metropolitan Theater in 1931.


The CCP was conceived with nothing. In 1961, the Philippine-American Cultural Foundation started to raise funds for a new theater. The structure, designed by Leandro Locsin, was to be built on a 10-hectare (25-acre) lot in Quezon City. In 1965, Imelda Marcos expressed her desire to build a national theater that led to the issuance of Presidential Proclamation No. 20 on March 12, 1966. She then persuaded the Philippine-American Cultural Foundation to relocate and expand plans for the theater to a new reclaimed location along Roxas Boulevard in Manila. To formalize the project, President Marcos issued Executive Order No. 30, creating the national theater. The former first lady as chairperson of the board was given the legal mandate to negotiate and manage funds for the center.

                       The ever amiable and dependable publicity head of the CCP, the Birthday Girl Irene Rada

To give birth to a national theater, Mrs. Marcos already started fund raising for the Cultural Center as early as 1965. An initial PHP500,000 was made from the proceeds of the premiere of Flower Drum Song at the PhilamLife Auditorium, and another PHP90,000 from the Filipino arm of the Philippine-American Cultural Foundation. However, this was insufficient to cover the projected cost of PH15 million needed to construct the theater. Much of the theater's funding came from a war damage fund for education authorized by the US Congress during President Marcos's state visit to the United States. In the end, the theater would receive US$3.5 million from the fund.

         The Koryolab Choreographers Buboy Raquitico, Christopher Chan, Dingdong Selga, Michael Que and Sarah Samaniego

To make up for the rest of the construction costs, Mrs. Marcos approached prominent families and businesses to donate to her cause. Carpets, draperies, marble, artworks to decorate the interior of the theater and even cement were all donated. Despite the success of the First Lady's fund raising, the project cost ballooned to almost 50 million, or 35 million over the projected budget by 1969. Imelda and the CCP board took a US$7 million loan through the National Investment Development Corporation to finance the remaining amount, a move that was heavily criticized by government opposition. Unfazed with the criticism, the former first lady went ahead with the project and the Theater of Performing Arts of the CCP was opened on September 8, 1969.

                                                      Former CCP President Nestor Jardin shares his wonderful experiences and vision of CCP

In 1970, CCP was in trouble due to the costs of constructing the Theater of Performing Arts. In 1972, the CCP board asked Congress to pass House Bill 4454, which would convert the Center to become a non-municipal public corporation and allow it to use the principal of the CCP Trust Fund to pay off some of its debt. The bill would also continually support the center through a government subsidy amounting to the equivalent of 5 percent of the collected Amusement Tax annually.

                           The revelation of the CCP 50th Anniversary logo led by its Vice President and Artistic Director Chris Millado

However, the proposed piece of legislation was met with strong opposition and was never passed. With the declaration of Martial Law on September 23, 1972, Congress was effectively dissolved; and President Marcos signed Proclamation No. 15 s. 1972, essentially a modified version of the proposed bill. The proclamation also expanded the Center's role, from that of being a performance venue to an agency promoting and developing arts and culture throughout the country.


Other notable developments during the year included the institution of the National Artist Awards and the foundation of the CCP Philharmonic Orchestra, the center's first resident company that would later become the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.

                                      Vice President and Artistic Director Chris Millado and few of the CCP team wearing the 50 Year of CCP t-shirt

During the Marcos Presidency, the CCP Complex played host to major local and international events under the guise of New Society, which would mark the start of a series of major construction projects in the area. When Filipino Margie Moran won the 1973 Miss Universe Pageant, the Philippine Government agreed to stage the succeeding year's contest.

                       The symbolic dance of Koryolab Choreographers to emphasize the significance of the CCP giant logo

The CCP is the premiere showcase of the arts in the Philippines.  The center has been producing and presenting music, dance, theater, visual arts, literary, cinematic and design events from the Philippines and all over the world for more than forty years.  Its nine resident companies, namely, Ballet Philippines, Philippine Ballet Theater, Tanghalang Pilipino, Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company, Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, UST Symphony Orchestra, Philippine Madrigal Singers and the National Music Competition for Young Artists Foundation (NAMCYA) present a regular season of productions, workshops and outreach performances.  


The Arts Education Department encourages the growth of aspiring artists, arts managers and new audiences through master classes, workshops, and online educational resources.  The Outreach and Exchange Department supports the development of satellite venues in select cities all over the country.  The Production and Exhibition Department advances the practice in technical theater and design and takes the lead in the professionalization of stagecraft and venue management in the country.   

The Cultural Content Department, meanwhile, digitizes the cultural content of the Center and designs interactive portals to make this available to students, teachers, and enthusiasts in the World Wide Web.  With the Assets Development Program the CCP is poised to redevelop its 60-hectare property as a major cultural and eco-tourism destination in the Asia Pacific region. This belongs to various international organizations such as the Association of Asia Pacific Performing Arts Center (AAPAC), the Conseil International des Organisations de Festivals de Folklore et d’Arts Traditionnels (CIOFF), the World Dance Alliance (WDA), the International Theater Institute (ITI), the Asian Theater Alliance (ATA), the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (ASEAN COCI), the ASEAN Korea Traditional Music Orchestra (AKTMO), among many others. 

The CCP logo

Through these international network and exchange programs Filipino artists have been able to engage with their international counterparts and local audiences have been able to experience the arts and culture from the Asia Pacific and all over the world.


The CCP is no longer a baby. The Center on September 9 will take another journey to celebrate its 50th year as window to the country’s history on culture and arts.  


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