The Cultural Center of the Philippines, in cooperation with the Julia Buencamino Project, brings attention to mental health through the Festival of Arts and Ideas, billed WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME?, slated on November 28 to December 9, 2018, at various CCP venues.
For its second year, the Festival of Arts and Ideas engages artistic expression to create awareness and hold conversations on issues concerning mental health conditions. The festival offers interactive arts activities designed to help participants express the struggles they are going through, and hopefully cope with them by learning new skill, finding new interests while gaining a support group in the art community.
Festival director Shamaine Centenera Buencamino believes in the power of arts to bring healing and help overcome the stigma of mental illness.
“Art heals. Arts help focus the mind. Art even changes the way the brain functions,” enthused Shamaine, who – together with her husband Nonie – founded the Julia Buencamino Project to honor the memory of their daughter Julia, who died from suicide on July 7, 2015. It aims to help children suffering from mental illness and educate people about mental health.
Inspired by the poem penned by Julia, which reads: “When my mask shatters / and you see how broken I really am, / will you still love me?,” the festival is for everyone – especially the survivors and sufferers of mental health problems as well as their carers, health and wellness professionals and educators.
“Julia’s poem speaks of the fear that most people struggling with mental health suffer — the fear that they won’t be accepted and loved. That is why we need to talk about mental health. Mental health affects everyone. Mental health problems need to be talked about. The festival is not just to increase awareness, but to hold conversations to understand and help manage these mental conditions,” shared Shamaine.
During the festival, a paper crane tree will be installed at the Bulwagang Carlos Francisco (CCP Little Theater Lobby). The paper crane tree serves as the unifying symbol of the festival as it carries messages of hope and self-affirmation of participants. Through the tree, Shamaine hopes to inculcate a culture of gratitude.
Another highlight of the festival is the Object Portrait Exhibition, on display from November 28 to December 9, 2018, at Bulwagang Carlos Francisco (Little Theater Lobby). Inspired by the Julia Bench Project, the art installation is comprised of 18 painted benches, with hand-written poems printed on large-format scrolls and found objects, forming an evolving on-site installation.
The installation, conceptualized by Alwin Reamillio, will be in collaboration with Philippine High School for the Arts visual arts alumni from Amorsolo-Abelardo Batch and friends who were invited to contribute painted layers and designs on the benches in response to the poems.
A series of activities will be held on December 8, including: the Movement Connection, a dance healing session to reconcile the internal thoughts through external movement, and Pabaong Tinapay, a visual art activity focusing on getting in touch with one’s feelings, tap on resources and identify the “bread” that will give hope, simultaneously happening at 3pm.
At 8pm in Tanghalang Huseng Batute (Studio Theater), there will be back-to-back performances, titled “I:UNDERWATER and Other Ruminations.” In “I:UNDERWATER and Other Ruminations,” Issa Manalo Lopez, in collaboration with J Laspuna, Sheka Ong, Ina Azarcon-Bolivar and Kat Bonillo, interrogates the roots of her mental disorder. “Other Ruminations” is a biographical theater performance by Shamaine Buencamino, featuring dancers Debbie Afuang and John Paul Ortenero. It is in collaboration with Layeta Bucoy, Jose Estrella, Kare Adea and Gerald Mercado.
The following day, December 9, participants can join various workshops – “Cultivating Attunement, Inner Composure, and Resilience Through Arts,’ an introduction on some basic guides on how to be more mindful with one’s thoughts and emotions, at Pasilyo Victorio Edades (4/F Hallway); Learn to Play the Ukelele at Bulwagang Amado Hernandez (Conference Room); and “Poetreat,” a workshop that demonstrates the power of poetry in helping people recognize difficult emotions and express them through literary means.
There will be film screenings of the short films on mental health conditions from 3rd Quisumbing-Escandor Film Fest, on December 8 and 9, at Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theater). Featured films include “Wish” by Sheen Irerick Seekts and “Hawla” by Mark Anthony Norella, documentaries that bring light to the plight of the carers; “Oh, Aking Katoto” by Kelvin Aguilar, “Jordan” by Vic Acedillo, Jr., and “Comfort Room” by Leia Reyna Pasumbal, films on suicide and depression; and, “Elehiya sa Paglimot” by Kristoffer Bugada and “Kaktus” by Clarisse Marquez, a glimpse into Alzheimer’s Disease in elderly and Autism Spectrum Disorder in children. A forum facilitated by psychologist Dr. Maricar Paulino-Fajardo will follow.
The festival will culminate with “Will You Still Love Me?” performance, featuring poetry readings on mental health with dance interpretations choreographed by Gerald Mercado and Nonoy Froilan. Video testimonials of Laya Arioder, Gabbie Tatad and Pauline Palita that will culminate with a forum led by Alya Honasan and Dr. Richthofen de Jesus. It will be directed by Jenny Jamora, written by Anj Heruela. Performers include: Kare Adea, Kalila Aguilos, Laya Arioder, Nonie Buencamino, Shamaine Buencamino, Ballet Manila’s Kayla Coseteng, and Banaue Miclat-Janssen.
According to Shamaine, the workshops are designed to teach participants skills to practice the arts as a way to improve the mind and manage stress. Film screenings will give viewers more information on different mental conditions as well as an opportunity to ask psychologists questions to understand mental illness more. Performances will allow audiences to empathize with those who suffer and to continue fighting mental illness by living inspired lives.
For more information about WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME? FESTIVAL OF ARTS AND IDEAS, call 832-1125 local 1606 or visit www.culturalcenter.gov.ph.