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Sunday, May 24, 2009

The sights & sounds of San Antonio, Zambales

This recently came into my mail via Google Alerts, a Channel News Asia Article about San Antonio, Zambales. Below is an excerpt from the article.

The music is thanks to Casa San Miguel, a community-based arts centre that nurtures the talents of local children in various disciplines. The centre is run by music director Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata, an alumnus of the Julliard School of Music in New York and the University of Indiana.

Coke, who heads the arts centre cum school, had quit his job as a professional musician in New York to set up the centre. It was his way of giving back to the community.

Situated on his family’s mango orchard, Casa San Miguel has a two-storey visual arts gallery, residences for artists, a hall that can accommodate chamber orchestra concerts and a 1,000-seat circular outdoor theatre set amid the cool shades of the mango trees.

Casa San Miguel, 2005 (Photo by: Kat Sales)

The centre is where the young of San Miguel can get a quality education in the arts, be it visual arts, photography or music. Most of the students are children of fishermen and farmers from the village, but some hail from affluent neighbourhoods in Manila. Classes and workshops are conducted by Coke and volunteer Filipino artists.

The school’s alumni have gone on to win prizes in the Philippines as well as been talent spotted by agents from the Julliard School of Music whom Coke invites to the village’s annual showcase of artistry.

Indeed, the opening night of the 16th Pundaquit Festival of Music and the Arts on March 28 saw the Pundaquit Virtuosi — a string orchestra featuring gifted children from five to 15 — giving a stunning performance that would not be out of place at the best concert halls in the world.

For the complete article about San Antonio, Zambales, please visit this link.

I also added some pictures of Casa San Miguel to the photo album. These were taken during a trip there back in 2005. So many things have changed already, which I hope to see soon.