Tag Archives: Nanding Josef

Cinemalaya: Santa Niña: questions about pure love, guilt, sin and salvation

When Paulino Mungcal and his co-worker in a lahar-filled quarry unexpectedly dig up the remains of his 2-year daughter Marikit, they discover that she showed no signs of decay.  Could this be a miracle, and could she — despite death – cure the sick? Continue reading

Cinemalaya: Kamera Obskura: a tribute to Filipino cinema heritage

The title “Kamera Obskura” is a Filipino spelling of the latin “Camera Obscura” which simply means “dark room”. The film’s concept adheres to formalist cinema, where the filmmaker’s thesis is to make a semblance of a vintage film seemingly produced sometime in the late 1920s to early 1930s in thePhilippines. Continue reading

Art school opens door to new scholars

By NICKIE WANG/ Manila Standard Today

folk-dance-students-1Art’s influence is encompassing; it opens the mind to infinite perspectives and possibilities. To be given a chance to study art under brilliant instructors is a rare opportunity because talent can further be developed through an approach where a more solid inclination and passion to art and to its different forms are expanded and given more attention.

The Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA), located on the slope of mystical Mt. Makiling in Laguna, is a unique residential secondary school run by the government. It was established in 1977 to specifically create a perfect environment to artistically gifted and talented children.

PHSA is currently accepting applicants to the Annual Nationwide Search for Young Arts Scholars (ANSYAS). Children with exceptional talents from Metro Manila are welcomed to apply until Jan.15, while the deadline for provincial applicants is on Jan. 31.

“There’s nothing like this school. PHSA is a special school with special students,” veteran character actor and PHSA executive director Nanding Josef told the Standard Today. “We need a new batch of scholars, about 30 to 40 students.”

The state allots an annual P300,000 budget per PHSA scholar.  The amount includes tuition, board and lodging, classes with master teachers, and a monthly stipend.

Specialized curriculum at the arts school includes various disciplines in Music (instrument and voice), Dance (ballet and folk), Theater Arts, Visual Arts, and Creative Writing.  In addition to arts-oriented curriculum, it also offers Basic Education subjects prescribed by the Education Department.

Art school complex

tanghalang-maria-makilingWe were given a chance to visit the picturesque campus of PHSA on Dec. 8. After a two-hour drive from Manila, our sight was welcomed by nipa hut-inspired cottages that serve as classrooms, science laboratories, library, instructional media center, computer room, and practice rooms.

“We have another 30 cottages here that serve as residence for more than 130 students, and 40 teachers and support staff,” Josef said.

Other instructional facilities in the 13.5-hectare complex include the state-of-the-art Tanghalan Maria Makiling, rehearsal studios for Folk Dance and Ballet, Visual Arts and Photography Studio, and Journalism Room. The administration office, faculty room, meeting room, medical clinic, counseling office and the Executive Guesthouse, which once served as Imelda Marcos’ rural villa, complete the facilities at the state-run art school.

“During the term of former President [Fidel] Ramos, the complex underwent rehabilitation through a P90-million budget approved during a Cabinet meeting held here,” Josef disclosed.

The school operation depends solely on the budget given by the government and from the monetary donations coming from generous individuals and institutions that recognize the importance of culture and art development.

Artistically gifted students

“The officials are always hard to convince. They say P200,000 [the former budget per scholar] is too big to support one student. So sa tuwing may budget deliberation kailangang ipakita sa mga officials ang mga students para mag-perform, and they are instantly convinced,” Josef related.

We didn’t have to take the word of the veteran actor to believe and consider the artistic talents of the PHSA scholars. During a half-day visit, we had the chance to see how classes are conducted in the special school. Students majoring in Music and Folk Dance showed us sample performances.

After a lunch prepared by the PHSA at the well-maintained Executive Guesthouse, Josef whispered: “I get inspired by seeing really young artists with exceptional artistry in different fields,” pertaining to  the students from Music who performed an ethereal version of “You Raise Me Up” by the group called Secret Garden.

The Folk-Dance majoring students performed a number entitled “Cordillera,” which we were told they themselves did the choreography. The dance is their definition of love and courtship inspired by the natives of the Mountain Province. With the use of gongs, native bamboo instruments, and tribal drums, the students rendered a jaw-dropping performance just like professionals do at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that it was just a sample of what these students do everyday.

The scholars, whose ages range from 12 to 16, need to maintain a 90 percent grade average, which is the passing mark, in all art subjects to maintain their scholarship.

Tinututukan ang bawat estudyante pag bumababa ang grade kahit sa General Education. They are given special or extra sessions. The objective of the school is to make them stay and finish their courses. The faculty and staff members do official and unofficial tasks like acting as surrogate parents to these students with completely different characters,” Josef explained.

PHSA scholars are being trained to be the best artists of this particular time by pushing the limit of their artistic potentials and, at the same time, making them better people. “We praise and criticize them. That’s how I matured as an artist and as a person,” the veteran actor concluded.


Applicants for the scholarship must be graduating Grade VI or VII pupils for the school year 2008-2009; of above-average intelligence, proficient in oral and written Filipino and English; without any debilitating illness; and willing to study in a residential high school.

They must also be willing to pursue a college degree in Dance, Creative Writing, Architecture, Fine Arts, Music, Theater Arts, Journalism and other related courses.

Application forms and the list of requirements per art discipline may be downloaded from the PHSA Web site http://www.phsa.edu.ph.  All documents and requirements must be sent directly to ANSYAS 2009, PHSA, National Arts Center, Mt. Makiling, Los Baños 4030 Laguna.  For inquiries, e-mail phsa@laguna.net or call telefax (+6349)536-5971 to 73 and 536-2862.

Organization for artists’ welfare


Artists—like musicians, painters, sculptors, dancers, writers, actors, production people, weavers, builders, and creators of beauty—are known as cultural workers and arts managers. They are considered as one of the exponents of national identity for preserving traditional arts.

After every performance, artists receive standing ovation or at least an enthusiastic applause from the audience that can be equated to adoration and pride.

On stage, artists or performers look grand as if they live an outlandish lifestyle. People do not know that many artists, after receiving an overwhelming appreciation from the audience, would go home, find their ways in a congested traffic, cross a flooded street or perhaps find another gig to make both ends meet. Indeed, not all artists are well-off.

People have heard stories about artists who are now in impoverished condition. There are some depressing stories of artists who died broke and broken hearted. One particular reason why situations like these happen is because artists like cultural performers, dancers, actors, or musicians, once when they age, project offers become scarce.

When they work, they give all their selves out just to provide entertainment. Sometimes, out of their passion, they even work for free not thinking about themselves in the future. The work they do is of immeasurable value, and yet when they are faced with sickness or disability or other material and physical needs, they are generally left on their own to fend and provide for themselves.

“Did you know,” asked Fernando Josef, president of Artists Welfare Project Inc., “that before Lino Brocka passed away, he was totally broke? I don’t want to say his mother’s exact words but she was cursing him [Lino] for not even providing them a house considering he’s a famous director.”

Passing the hat

“I get emotional when I hear stories about artists who dedicate their life in providing entertainment but don’t have money to pay their expenses in the hospital. When we have friends in the industry that need assistance we just pass [the] hat, we collect money to help each other out, but most of us have shallow pockets,” Josef, a stage, screen and television actor and currently artistic director of Tanghalang Pilipino, shared.

In November 2006, Josef and his colleagues met and decided to form an organization that would extend assistance to artists in various fields. Thus, AWPI was born.

“In our first wave of collection we got P60,000, each of us contributed a thousand to have our organization registered,” the veteran actor revealed.

AWPI was formed to extend, provide or grant financial, legal, medical and hospitalization privileges or benefits or similar assistance, support and advice to Filipino artists who may be disabled or incapacitated by reason of age or physical or mental infirmity and are thus unable to earn, support or maintain his subsistence, health, and basic life needs.

Beyond meeting emergency needs, AWPI also hopes to assist artists achieve security in terms of having a place to live, providing education for their children, and having funds for their retirement.

“We must support and help our artists, especially during their times of need—for example, when they are sick, or when they need legal assistance. Artists usually are not practical or business-minded people; they don’t invest their money—most of the time they don’t have much money anyway—or have health or any kind of insurance. We at AWPI are trying to fill that gap,” Josef enthused.

AWPI is run by a 15-member board of trustees and currently has 182 members. Its immediate concern is to build up an endowment fund that will enable it to provide members with benefits such as medical and legal assistance, emergency loans, pension and death benefits, among others.

“We are here to introduce and to call on the attention of other artists who would be interested in joining or perhaps help the organization with its advocacies,” declared Edna Vida-Froilan, one of the board members of AWPI during a press lunch at the CCP Multipurpose Hall.

Projects and events

To build up its endowment fund, AWPI is undertaking various fund-raising activities in the coming months.

In June next year, Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, the organization’s treasurer, will spearhead a production at the CCP with Ballet Manila. It is to be one of the biggest fund-raising events that the AWPI will hold in the future.

Coinciding with the General Assembly of the organization on Nov. 29, an Artists’ Tiangge will be opened at the shady lane between the Main CCP Building and the Production Design Center, CCP Complex.

The Artists’ Tiangge includes many artists whose one-of-a-kind products cannot be found at any other market in Manila. There will be over 40 different stalls showing and selling a rich variety of wares. From the new to the recycled, fine arts to folk art, jewelry to ceramics, sculpture to textiles, curios and collectibles, there will be something for almost every taste and budget. The Artists’ Tiangge also features street performers and a gourmet café.

For more information, contact Artists Welfare Program Inc. at telephone numbers 832-1125 locals 1606 to 07 or e-mail at drama_ccp@yahoo.com.