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Defining the Filipino Cultural identity: Filipino Avant Garde in Performing Arts Theater

by: Joanna April Lumbad
These are the summary of my works/ projects.
term paper
My mentors:
The Avant Garde concept pushes the bounderies of what’s accepted as the norm will theoretically drive Filipino designers into thinking out of the box and thus, making a design style that is uniquely ours.
*Mock Defense Powerpoint
*Final Defense Powerpoint
*First Trial and Error Power Point
*Copies of Thesis Papers
Exhibit Defense was held on Mall of Asia South Wing Febuary 11, 2010
Presented to: Sister Tammy
(Dean of School of Arts and Sciences) Dean Ma. Asuncion Azcuna
Sir Don Amorsolo, Ms. Evangeline Kuizon, Ms. Helena Sharon Malinis and Ms. Belen Morey with Ms. Lot Hilvano
THANK GOD, I have finally finished my thesis last February of 2010 and finished all my subjects last March of 2010 in College even if I’m late (I became Octoberian and it’s a long story…)
I became the highest in our Final Defense.
I’m so happy that for the first time I’m Top 1 in my class.
I have finished everything on time- All the subjects I took (Majors & Minors)- Fully Loaded every year.
A little background first...

The Philippines has been colonized for more than 300 years by th Spaniards, American, and even the Japanese- which stayed here fo a little while.

We were given independence by the Americans in 1946 which means that we were only independent for 63 years. Compared to more than 300 years under colonized rule, it isn't any wonder why we have this Problem.

The Filipino are struggling for a cultural identity as reflected in architectural designs and interiors of Opera House Theaters in the Philippines.

Foreign influences are very evident in structures and design of theaters that the "Filipino'ness" seems to be lost. Evidence of the Problem are shown throughout the history of Performing Arts Theaters in the Philippines.

Spanish Colonial Period: The Spaniards brought in the Classical-Romance Style here in the Philippines. As a result, the structures of theaters here in the Philippines follows that design. Only Difference is that the theaters in Spain looks grander than here in the Philippines because of the following:

1) We are the colony, the Spain is the colonizers. Budget is an issue.
2) Materials available here in the Philippines are used instead of exporting the materials usually used in Spain.

American Colonial Period: The Americans brought in the Art Deco Style here in the Philippines. Art Deco is characterized by geometric patterns and stylized motif, often depicting sunburst pattern or pyramidal shapes.

Post Colonial Period: is the period where we became independent from foreign rule.
After 1946, Filipino Architects and designers adapted the international Style. The Style was "International" in that it could be applied to any location, site or climate as it made no reference to local history or national vernacular. It developed the same time as Art Deco (1920's-1930's), but since the Americans preffered Art Deco the time they colonized us, it was only in the 60's that International Style started to gain hold here.

International style is characterized by modern materials like: concrete, glass and steel. (absence of decoration).

Meralco Theater, CCP Theater and Folk Arts Theater which were built at around 1960's to 70's follows the International style principles.

Summary of Evidences: 

1) Filipino style adapts as foreign influences progress or change. This is a result incured by being colonized for so long.

2) Adaptation can be seen as "hybridization" of culture.

(Hybridization means mixing of two components to create a new one. Ex: Filipino style mixed with Spanish influence will create a hybrid called Filipino-Spanish style. Filipino style mixed with Art Deco design will create a hybrid called Filipino Art Deco.

The cultural Identity of a Filipino is a mixture of culture during the Pre-colonial, Colonial and Post Colonial packed in a single identity.

We can't separate our Western influences from our culture since it has already became a part of us.

Solution proposed by the researcher-(Joanna April Lumbad):

-Accept the foreign influences and then adapt to it.
-Instill the value in every Filipino that each and everyone are unique individuals and therefore capable of creating a unique creation or idea of their own.

Because our foreign influences hace already become a part of us, all we have to do is to accept the influences and learn to adopt it.

In doing so, we should not stop by just imitating these influences. We also have to unleash our creativity and learn to think out of the box to create an idea that is totally our own.

This is where Avant Garde Concept comes in...

In planning this performing arts theater. the researcher wants:

1) To apply the avant garde concept in this theater's design by thinking experimental and out of the box ideas.

2) Make a design that can be a national landmark someday.

3) Instill a culture and appreciation of theater in this country.
(Avant Garde means: experimental and Innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture and politics. Often has an abrasive social and political edge.)

Avant Garde usually have a theme that is reflected in a form of art. In this thesis, my theme will be finding the cultural identity of Filipinos and applying that identity in designing a performing arts theater.

Parameters that needed to consider while putting Avant Garde concept in Filipino design context:

1) Recognizing the people and tradition pre-colonial time.

2) Identify materials that naturally grow in this country.

3) Noting the foreign influences that we accumulated over the years are also part of our own self.

Making an Effective Theater:

Relationship between audience members in their seats and the performers on stage are influenced by the following:

1) Type of performance (wheather it is dance, drama, circus, orchestra, or opera.)

2) Seating Capacity (how many audience should comfortabilty fit inside the theater.)

3) Historical Precedents. (take cosideration the formulas, layout, and style that already worked as an effective theater.)

Technical Requirements in Performing Art Spaces that needs to be Followed:

Front of House: includes lobbies, foyers, box office, restrooms, and other spaces serving the theater goers.

House: the audience chamber.

Stage: wher the action happens.

Backstage or back of he house: dressing rooms, green rooms, performer and crew lounges, storage rooms.

Type of layout of theaters depends largely  on the seating capacity and the types of performances will be performed.

Hanamichi Thrust Stage or the T-shaped is good for experimental performances. Since the stage is closeto the seats, it gives an intimate feel to audience viewing the performance.

Proscenium stage: allows everyone to see the performance easily.

Arena theater: Give an intimate feel to the audience as the seat surrounds the stage but some performers may have their back ath the audience with this type of setup.

Design Issues should also be taken in consideration: 

Transparency: opens up a space by the use of glass.

Natural Light: give a sense of release by providing windows and openings that will give natural light.

Circulation: Traffic flow must be sufficient to give ample space for movement inside the theater.

Wheelchair Access: disabled people-friendly.

Good color scheme: takes care of the mood of the theater.

Good sounds acoustics: to provide good sound.

& Good lighting plan: gives dramatic rendering of the design.
(Except for my G.E./Minor Comprehensive Examination. I took the test again last August 16, 2010 and I passed! Then I got my Diploma and Transcript of Record last October 2010)
Year 2009-2010 was the most stressful year ever and I have survived. I made it all the way to the end of my four year course in Interior Design 2006-2010.

(For more handouts, click this: http://www.scribd.com/lumbad2010)

This was a big challenge in my life in College and it wasn’t easy for me because I just finished what my parents chose for me. Because back then when I was in High School, I really don’t know what course I’m going to take in College and I don’t know what Universities/College Schools that I really want, until my mom decided for me to study at SSC Manila and I took the course related to our family company.
And now that I’m already graduated from College, I still figure out what I really want to apply for a job.