The Advent of the Bayanihan Cultural Arts Studio
It all started with the production of Murupuro/ The Islands of Constellation in 2017 when Dennis Gupa, a University of Victoria doctoral student in Applied Theatre, approached the Bayanihan Cultural & Housing Society and the Victoria Filipino Canadian Association to collaborate with him in presenting by way of applied theatre the issues that concern climate change and indigenous ways of knowing. In keeping with their objectives to preserve, maintain, promote, and develop matters of cultural significance to the community, both societies agreed. The centre was transformed into a stage. Although lighting, layout, props, and walls were not optimum and space and equipment were limited, the performance successfully took place for three nights. The idea of using the centre for plays and performances for a small audience was born.
It was providential that the City of Victoria recognized the need to facilitate and support groups in sourcing affordable arts venues. The city invited applications for infrastructure grants that will make art studios available. Arts bring people from diverse backgrounds and neighbourhoods together to celebrate and share in a common experience as portrayed in dance, theatre, music, and spoken word. Bayanihan is fortunate to own a property that proved ideal for this infrastructure grant. Renovations were undertaken during the pandemic lockdown to make the facility suitable for small performances. New lights, curtain tracks, new paint, soundproofing, and upgraded equipment created a new performance venue.
In 2022, we envisioned the creation of Bayanihan Creative Collective to establish and sustain a performing arts group committed to creative production, Philippine culture advocacy and promotion, and community outreach. Its mission is to bring artists together to cultivate programs in dance, music, and theatre.
The Sampaguita Dance Group continues to represent the dance component of the Bayanihan Creative Collective led by Jean Penola, Daisy Breuer, and Clarissa Cecilia Mijares. A choral group has now been formed under Ruby Tiburcio Llaguno. Last fall, a well-acclaimed Balikbayan: Reconnecting with our Filipino Roots, produced and directed by Jean Penola, was staged at Dave Dunnet Theatre by the choral and dance group to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Bayanihan Community Centre.
Recently, Lapulapu Day was proclaimed in British Columbia on April 27. A celebration was held at the Bayanihan Community Centre with a program directed by Francis Matheu with a staged reading of excerpts from the musical Lapulapu Ang Datu ng Mactan by Nicolas Pichay and an interpretative dance of the Battle of Mactan.
Programming is planned for the future, aspiring artists are invited and grants are being sought to fund our artistic ventures.