CASA San Miguel is located in San Antonio, Zambales, approximately 3 1/2 hour by land from Metro Manila. This coastal town thrived for decades from the presence of the American naval base, providing them with manpower for running their facilities - from high ranking naval personnel to electricians, carpenters, drivers, cooks and janitors. It enjoyed a 3rd class rating up until the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo and the departure of the Americans. The town has now become a 5th class town, with many residents opting for brighter futures in the city or as contract workers abroad.
[Black & White Pictures by kind permission of Elmer Borlongan "Zambales Portfolio -- exploring my new hometown, Flickr". Click Image for source]
Life in San Antonio is simple. In fact it really hasn't changed much. Most of its residents contribute to the local economy, selling their produce in the local market or providing their professional services as doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, and architects. Still largely agrarian, there remain many communities of farmers and fisherfolk, who augment their income by running the local transportation system of tricycles.
Like most little towns in the countryside, it is a tight knit community composed of humble people who enjoy a quiet life by the sea. It is the town where the Corpus family chose to raise generations of its children including the violinist Ramon L. Corpus, the philanthropist Teodoro R. Yangco, and the painter Anita Magsaysay-Ho. In this new millennium of city bred descendants it has become the unusual and surprising setting for an arts center.
Casa San Miguel was founded by violinist Coke Bolipata, as an experiment in putting up a community structure that can provide its gifted members the time and space for developing their interest and talent in classical music. A product of both a political system that put arts at the helm of its vision for national development and a family that has been in the arts for generations, the question Coke Bolipata seeks to answer, through CASA San Miguel, is how cultural programs, particularly classical music and theater, can be sustained under the current socio-political system. It further proposes that there is hidden potential in every individual, every community. Knowledge, or talent, is already in the individual. It simply needs time and the space for the imagination to recollect and remember.
Today Coke Bolipata's efforts are supported by a Board of Trustees made up of compassionate individuals who have committed to giving their valuable time for the continued growth and development of the center's vision: its programs and the communities on which it has an impact.
CASA San Miguel believes that children who have the opportunity to discover their creativity and cultivate their imagination, particularly those who are marginalized, are empowered in ways that can alter the way they perceive the world towards a brighter more hopeful future.
We believe that the positive values
inherent in the arts
are the same values applicable in
leading productive and meaningful lives.
And perhaps, most simply, we believe that we are enriching the community by providing an alternative means of spending their free time, to discourage the youth from harmful activities such as the use of drugs and the abuse of alcohol that can both lead to violence, towards productive activities such as playing an instrument in an orchestra, painting, or acting. Together with our Sponsors we are working towards those goals.
We are proud to be supported by many organisations and public and private people. Especially our long time main sponsor Starbucks Philippines has empowered us to do so much in the field of education and mentoring our children and hence create a better future for them and the whole country.
What we are trying to achieve at CASA San Miguel is to establish a mode of art education and art production that is community-based, decentralize the urban areas as centers of art production, democratize art by providing a voice for the other Filipino, the common man who often, by geography, has no access to cultural programs.
Our success, in large or small measure, serves as a possible model, a basis, for other rural and community-based centers, with its simple and clear emphasis on education and the use of art as empowerment and self-discovery rather than mere entertainment and its commercial value.