ACCURATE information about Philippine art can now be accessed on one’s phone — and laptop, iPad, desktop… — as the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) launched the digital version of its Encyclopedia of Philippine Art (EPA) in a webinar last week.

The encyclopedia can be accessed via Subscription fees are currently at P75 per month, P450 for six months, and P900 for one year. As of the time of writing, the rates have been slashed to P350 (six months) and P675 (one year). Discounted rates are also available for institutional subscribers. However, the EPA Overall Project Coordinator, CCP Vice-President and Artistic Director Chris Millado said during the webinar that a “free-mium” website is forthcoming, with free access to five articles every month.

The website has nine sections. The section on “Peoples of the Philippines” contains master essays on 54 ethnolinguistic groups, arranged alphabetically from Aeta to Yakan. The next eight sections focus on the eight arts, namely: Architecture, Visual Arts, Film, Dance, Music, Theater, Broadcast Arts, and Literature.

Each section is further divided into Historical Essays, Forms and Types, Aspects, Works, and Artists and Organizations.

The EPA Digital also contains hundreds of video excerpts from plays and dance and music performances, all sourced from the vast video archives of the CCP. The site contains more than 5,000 articles and photos from the print edition. It will be continuously updated, and has an auto-citation tool for researchers. While the first one — in print — was published in 1994, a second edition was published in 2018. The current project took about two years to finish, according to Nicanor Tiongson, Editor-in-Chief of the EPA. “This version is substantially the 2017 printed edition, but with entries updated and many more new ones added,” he said.

Mr. Millado said that he had proposed an online version five years ago, when planning the 2018 publication of the 2017 edition. The proposal has been met with “fierce opposition from the editors and writers who insisted that the print version was essential and important.” He was glad to have been proven wrong: apparently the print edition has become the bestselling publication of the CCP. “Despite the fact that it weighs more than 100 pounds.”

The appearance of the online edition is timely due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns which have boarded up schools. “The digital version comes at a most opportune time because it hopes to be of great use to teachers and students who have been forced by the pandemic to hold classes online.”

CCP Chair Margarita Moran-Floirendo said that the EPA has come a long way in ensuring that its information on Philippine art and culture are properly recorded in an academic manner. “It is with this mission that the CCP has always been determined in democratizing diverse artistic knowledge and providing access to this information to every Filipino.”

“The digital edition of the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art is not just a website. It is the portal to the Filipino soul and imagination,” said Mr. Millado. — Joseph L. Garcia