Ricardo Abad gets elected as president of the Asia-Pacific Bond of Theater Schools

October 04, 2019
Ricardo Abad, Professor Emeritus and Areté Artistic Director, won the majority vote in an election conducted among heads of delegations and becomes the new President of the Asia-Pacific Bond of Theater Schools (APB) for the next two years.  The school representatives also chose Michael Earley from Singapore and Jang Jang from Shanghai, China as Vice-Presidents, with Budi Miller (Australia), Dinesh Kharma (India), Steven Fernandez (Philippines), and Munkhtuul Dashnyam (Mongolia) as Advisers. Gong Baorong of China retains his post as Head of Secretariat. The elections took place during the 12th APB Festival held in Hanoi, Vietnam from September 22-29.
The Participating Schools – 2019 APB Festival in Hanoi, Vietnam
The Heads of Delegations, APB 2019 Directors’ Meeting
The APB, formed in Manila in 2006 by five representatives of five Asia-Pacific countries, aims to strengthen theater training in the region and to increase the visibility of Asia-Pacific theater in the larger global theater scene. It does this by holding annual festivals where students from member schools share performance practices and seek opportunities for collaboration and exchange.  Since its formation, the APB membership has now, in 2019, grown to 26 schools, with new institutions applying each year. The Ateneo de Manila University has been a member since 2007, its inclusion endorsed by Arsenio Lizaso, an officer of Philippine chapter of the International Theater Institute and currently President of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.  Another Philippine group, the Integrated Performing Arts Guild of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, officially joined the federation in 2013.
The Ateneo Team, APB 2019: Guelan Luarca, Ricardo Abad, Chrisse Joy de los Santos, Maia Dapul, Tara Oppen Jamora, Senandra Gomez, Alissa Jam Binay, and Daniel Roan Cortezano
The APB’s growth in membership and cultural diversity poses challenges for the new leadership. As President, Dr. Abad will enjoin his team to launch new initiatives to promote greater inclusion and participation among member schools.  One of these is to make the annual festivals more affordable to hosts and participating schools.  Another way is to strengthen connections between APB and the wider international scene, notably with the UNESCO-based International Theater Institute (ITI) that has had a longer experience in organizing festivals and training courses.  In doing so, Dr. Abad will count on his work as the Ateneo representative to the UNESCO/ITI’s Network for Higher Education in the Performing Arts, Universities in the Performing Arts, and as Board Member of the Asian Shakespeare Association. 
Dr. Abad addressing the delegates at the Closing Ceremony.  Behind him (left or right) are Jang Jang (China, unseen), Le Quy Duong, conference host; Steven Fernandez (Philippines), Budi Miller (Australia), Dinesh Kharma (India), Munkhtuul Dashnyam (Mongolia), Michael Earley (Singapore), and Gong Baorong (China).
In his opening speech as President, made before the entire body during the Closing Ceremony, Dr. Abad profusely thanked the Vietnamese team, led by Le Quy Duong and Aubrey Mellor, for their superlative handling of this year’s APB festival.  He added that while the conference host can set the stage for a festival, the heart of the work lies in the efforts of student and faculty delegates, as well as those of the head delegates, who share performance practices, interact with each other, build networks, and carry with them ideas to enhance their own theater-making forward.  Much is expected from the new APB officers who will rely, more than ever, on the support and cooperation of the member schools.  
One of the first tasks of the new leadership is to name a host for the 2020 APB Festival – a great boost for a school’s internationalization thrust.  Perhaps the Ateneo?  
Photo credits to: Kenn Erwin Velasquez, Christian Cavallo, D Cortezano, and Nguyen Ba Anh Minh.