Cover Photo By Julia Mikaela Natividad
Cover Photo By Julia Mikaela Natividad.

Youth and Arts Zone 2023: Bringing the arts into the fight

Say “YAZ!” to the month-long celebration of the arts with this year’s Youth and Arts Zone #YAZ2023.

By Wallace Beltran | Monday, 6 March 2023

Bringing back the artist advocacy to campus, the Benilde Culture and Arts Unit (BCAU) empowered both the arts and the Benildean community for Youth and Arts Zone 2023. Reminisce National Arts Month as we look back at the many shining activities that showcased the community’s finest creatives.


Appearing first through a podcast on the BCAU Facebook page, what was Lasallian Arts Month has been rebranded as Youth and Arts Zone (YAZ)—and yes, it is playfully pronounced as “yazz.” Benildeans watched, listened, and enjoyed the many activities while simultaneously being reminded of making art with a greater purpose.


Crafting the birth of a movement

Starting it off nice and slow at the Greenway Square in the Taft Campus, students sat on the floor to attend a workshop and puppet show for an event titled “Art Break: Kalye Guhit.” Hosted by the shadowplay organization, Karilyo, students learned how to create art sustainably and watched a puppet show that told the story of a superhero who went out on the lookout for his sidekick to protect the planet and defeat the many enemies of mother nature. 


On the other side, different performers in “Art Jam” brought life to the Design and Arts Campus (DAC) Cafeteria. Performances included solo and duo performances by Gem Largo, Saint Moth, James Andrew, and RADLEELAQUIAN, whose diverse acts included acoustics, violin pop performances, and stellar voices.


Dancers Ashley and Lui also did an interpretative number that sent love and intimacy to all. Soon after, multiple bands came in one by one to blast out the night; WHY JULY, The Rumors, Dekada 20, Joao, Rayhel, Winona Kwai, The Nomads, Pauline Cueto, Def Not Avy, and Sideline went on to capture the young spirits that were present to sing along to sweet tunes and headbang to beyond impressive guitar solos.


The category is… Empower!

The Saint Benilde Romancon Dance Company (SBRDC) kicked off both Young People Power, rewatchable on BCAU’s Facebook page, and Art is Here Youtube channel and Art Ammo with a hype-inducing dance number to Shanti Dope’s “Maya.” The performance urges the current generation of youth to continue utilizing their talent despite what circumstances may come, “Nakakabingi man ang mga busina. Makina mainit pa sa kusina. Para sa kinabukasan gusto ko makita.” 


Young People Power aimed to strengthen the young generation of creatives and retold the real struggle of Filipino minds from the moment Martial Law was proclaimed. Dulaang Filipino’s performance sends chills with this exact message the moment the first note of “Tatsulok” was sung, similar to Coro San Benildo’s bloodbathed acapella music video cover of the song.


And while said event was supposed to end the line up of activities for YAZ 2023, it can’t be stated enough how much different the experience became from the sudden delay of “Art Ammo.”


The ending as a new beginning

After the BRDC’s live performance of “Maya,” lip sync performances by Benildean drag queens Poblaxion and Gandares transformed the crowd into a cave of cheers. The high energy only ramped up even more so by none other than Dragden PH contestant Maria Christina who gave a talk on safe spaces and delivered one hell of a performance.


It was clear, after Maria Christina asked the crowd, that the community needed a push towards more education about certain topics like HIV and AIDS, but as Maris Christina said, there’s still much to do to further education in these areas in general. She spoke of safe spaces and was pleasantly surprised how inclusive and open-minded DAC was, as the crowd roared each time she mentioned anything about LGBTQIA+ rights and the future of Benildean drag.


Pride was clear on everyone’s faces as both Poblaxion and Gandares shared the spotlight, encouraging Benildeans to start their own drag journey—as now proclaimed Benildean drag pioneers themselves. “I think this event will help future drag queens to embrace themselves [...] The only one you need to impress is yourself and not other people,” Poblaxion answered in an interview with The Benildean. As simply put, she says “You do you.”


It is funny how, despite the unfortunate delay after the sudden suspension of classes on its original date, Art Ammo managed to close off YAZ 2023 perfectly. It created this different ending where a group of young people celebrate, essentially, the popularization of a new art form in the community—while simultaneously honoring those that came before.


Youth and Arts Zone 2023 did what we expect from a celebration of the arts and more. Local artists were empowered, aspiring professionals were given a chance to shine, and moreover, Benildeans were given the spark to push art into an active role in their advocacies.


You can check out the different produced videos for YAZ 2023 on the Art is Here Youtube channel.