Arts & Leisure

Scholarships offered for budding performers, artists

Posted on November 25, 2015

WHILE THE Philippines is rich with talented people, many of them are poor and can’t afford school to further hone their talents. This is where the Original Pilipino Performing Arts (OPPA) Foundation comes in.

OPPA was created with scriptwriters, stage performers, lighting and music directors, choreographers, and designers in mind.

“OPPA’s vision is to make the Philippines globally acclaimed for its excellence in the performing arts. We aim to achieve this through three major pillars. One is supporting local [and budding] artists through grants and scholarships, nurturing the industry through more opportunities for development, and elevating its standards and capabilities by providing global expertise and resources,” said OPPA Foundation Chairman Kingson Sian during the memorandum of agreement signing on Nov. 10 at Resorts World Manila (RWM).

OPPA has a partnership with RWM which will provide the theater venue for the foundation and will include its scholars among the casts in future RWM theater productions.

RWM has a newly built 400-seat black box theater called Ceremonial Hall found within the Marriott Grand Ballroom.

OPPA also has partnerships, initially, with schools like the University of the Philippines, St. Scholastica’s College, DLSU -- College of St. Benilde, and Mint College, from which the scholars will be chosen. The school partnership is still growing.

“We are a race that is gifted, passionate, and talented. That was no more apparent than the 1988 audition for Miss Saigon,” said OPPA President and Actress Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo. “Cameron Mackintosh came over to Manila hoping to find a Kim, instead, he found two Kims: Lea Salonga and Monique Wilson, along with eight more talented Filipinos. Inspired by the wealth of talents discovered here, he established the Saigon School where Filipinos were trained to supply all the other Miss Saigon productions all over the world,” she explained.

“The Philippines is never short of talented performers and artists,” she added.

She herself did not have any formal theater training -- practice and experiences in theater productions were her teachers. In hindsight, Ms. Yulo said she realized the value of formal training on and off the stage.

She said OPPA may also open short master classes, where she is very much willing to participate (“I love teaching. I am strict but in a nurturing way.”).

To be a scholar student, one has to meet a number of criteria including maintaining good grades and being in a certain economic bracket. But scholars may also come from outside the schools. “If we personally know someone who cannot afford it but have the talent. It will be a two-way thing,” said Ms. Yulo.

OPPA is starting with initial funding of P100 million. Its founding chairman is business tycoon Dr. Andrew L. Tan, who wanted to create a center of excellence for Filipino talents. Mr. Tan is the chairman of Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc., the owner and operator of RWM.

OPPA has no concrete plans just yet as the foundation is a work in progress. Next school year, OPPA will start tapping its partner schools for scholarship recommendations. The foundation will shoulder a student’s studies in any four-year course like theater, dancing, and acting, to technical skills training. -- Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman