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The Intramuros Administration (IA) is opening the walled city to the country’s artists as an “artists’ haven,” to eventually serve as a major tourist attraction.
The IA administrator, Jose Capistrano Jr., said the idea was also one way of helping boost and support the country’s arts and culture.
The IA opened a three-day visual arts festival dubbed “the First Intramuros Arts Festival” at the Maestranza Park facing the Pasig River, which was recently reconstructed with assistance from the Japanese government. Maestranza is one of the bulwarks or defense works whose walls and chambers served as warehouses for goods carried on the galleon trade between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico, during the Spanish colonial period.
“One of our main goals here is to make Intramuros a 21st-century heritage learning center, a ‘museum of the street’,” said Capistrano. By staging events like the arts festival in Intramuros, Filipino artists will be inspired to help in informing the next generation of Intramuros’ rich history, he said.
Some 150 visual artists from across the country were invited to participate in the festival that featured art exhibits, painting workshops and seminars; a parade of “higantes,” the large papier-maché figures created by the artists of Angono, Rizal; and dance and choir performances from Intramuros-based schools. The higantes will eventually be exhibited at the park.
The event also featured an “art tiangge,” where paintings of some of the country’s most prominent artists were sold at very reasonable prices. Some for as low as P20,000, he said.
The festival was a joint project with the National Commission on Culture and the Arts and the Intramuros Visual Artists of the Philippines, which has already been staging monthly art exhibitions at the Intramuros Visitors’ Center in Fort Santiago.
Participating schools included Letran College, Mapua Institute, Lyceum University, Manila High School and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.
The IA earlier disclosed plans to transform Maestranza Park into an enclave of cafés, restaurants and shops, resembling Singapore’s Clarke Quay, a historic riverside wharf where old warehouses have been restored and converted into bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
The IA would like to see Intramuros eventually become a nighttime destination for local and foreign tourists.
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"Pasko sa Intramuros" held last Wednesday with a Flamenco Performance at 6pm and an Orchestra and Choral Concert at 7:30pm. Admission was free.