NCCA’s new Executive Director vows artists’ concerns will not be treated as afterthought

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 January) – After taking his oath as the new Executive Director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) on Tuesday afternoon, Oscar Getuya Casaysay vowed that artists’ concerns will be “mainstreamed in government and not treated as an afterthought.”

Casaysay said he would “organize the artists, cultural workers, artisans nationwide for the arts sector to have a strong voice in order to be taken seriously, so their issues and concerns will be mainstreamed in government and not treated as an afterthought.”

President Rodrigo Duterte named Casaysay, his longtime Community Relations Program Coordinator while mayor of Davao City,  as NCCA Executive Director on January 10 but the appointment paper was released only on January 17.

Casaysay took his oath Tuesday afternoon before Judge January Faye Risonar-Bello of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 3 here. 

Oscar Casaysay takes oath as Executive Director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts before Judge January Faye Risonar-Bello in Davao City on Tuesday, 18 January 2022. Photo by PATMEI BELLO RUIVIVAR

He told MindaNews he will report to work in Manila on the first week of February but will start work this week via Zoom meetings while the NCCA office in Manila is still on lockdown due to the COVID-19 surge.

“February is Arts Month so I will implement and coordinate what was already planned by NCCA. Locally, I will link Davao City DepEd Special Program for the Arts with NCCA’s programs because I am already involved in the local arts council. So palawakin ko lang ang nasimulan ko na” (So I will just expand what I have started on), he told MindaNews. 

Duterte appointed Casaysay vice Al Ryan Alejandre, another Dabawenyo who had earlier resigned to run for Councilor, a post he held for three terms, from 2010 to 2019.  Alejandre took over as NCCA Executive Director in September 2019. 

According to his resume, Casaysay’s areas of specialization are “communication and information campaign, cultural and peace building, community organizing, youth leadership workshops and organizational management.”

“Ministry of Culture”

The 30-year-old NCCA is the overall policy making body, coordinating, and grants giving agency for the “preservation, development and promotion of Philippine arts and culture.”

Under the NCCA umbrella are the Cultural Center of the Philippines, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, National Museum of the Philippines, National Library of the Philippines, National Archives of the Philippines and the Komisyon  sa Wikang Filipino. 

The NCCA website says the agency is “responsible for culture and the arts in the Philippines — and, if not in the name, the de facto Ministry of Culture.”

Before his appointment as NCCA Executive Director, Casaysay was Acting Provincial Information Officer of Davao Occidental. 

He also served as Consultant of the Davao City Culture and Arts Council  in its flagship project of making Davao City a “creative city,” Executive Director of Kaliwat Performing Arts Collective and Program Coordinator of the Davao Historical Society. 

He chaired and organized Moda Mindanaw, the  longest-running fashion design competition in Mindanao which started as Urog Etnika in 1997 and evolved into Moda Mindanaw in 2005 until the pandemic in 2020 triggered its suspension. He also initiated the movement, Organizing for Culture and Arts in 2009 when he ran for a seat in the City Council. 

The 60-year-old former student activist served the administration of then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as Community Relations Program Coordinator from 2004 to 2014, was a member of Duterte’s staff from June 1998 to December 1998 when he was Congressman of the first district, and was a member of his technical staff from May 1997 to May 1998 when Duterte was about to end his third term as mayor. 

He was Project Coordinator of RODY Project from 2005 to 2008, an annual search of Young leaders in Davao City through a reality TV show where the finalists were exposed to the major programs and works of the local government  and was a member of the One Davao Tourism Officers Association in the Davao region, while he was Acting Tourism Officer of Davao del Sur. 

Duterte, Bautista, Honasan 

Duterte is not the only politician Casaysay worked for. He also worked for the Bautistas of Davao Occidental and was a member of the political staff of Senator Gringo Honasan from July 1995 to May 1997. 

NCCA Executive Director Oscar Casaysay after his oath-taking on Tuesday, 18 January 2022 in Davao City. Photo by PATMEI BELLO RUIVIVAR

From July 2019 until his appointment as NCCA Executive Director, Casaysay was the Acting Provincial Information Officer of Davao Occidental under Davao Governor Claude Bautista, was consultant on Cultural and Tourism Office of  Bautista’s sister, Rep. Lorna Bautista-Bandigan from July 2016 to June 2019, was Acting Provincial Tourism Officer of Davao del Sur from July 2014 to June 2016 when Claude Bautista was Governor of the then undivided Davao Del Sur (Davao Occidental was later carved out of Davao del Sur) and from July 2002 to June 2004 was Consultant on Media Affairs of then Representative Claude Bautista. 

Casaysay finished Commerce at the University of Mindanao in Davao City in 1982  and is a candidate for Masters in Community Development at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. 

Before joining government in 1995, Casaysay worked in a cause-oriented group and non-governmental organization – as the Relief and Rehabilitation Coordinator of the Citizen’s Council for Justice and Peace in Davao City from  June 1988 to October 1991 and was Program Officer of the Mindanao Coalition of Development NGOs (Mincode) from February 1992 to June 1995. 

He also served as Program Officer of the Institute for Peace and Policy Studies at the University of the Philippines in Diliman from July 1995 to May 1997; was Mindanao Coordinator for the National Youth Commission from January 1999 to January 2000; and head for Admin and Finance of the Presidential Assistant for Regional Concerns Southern Mindanao from February 2000 to January 2001. 

In the first years of Duterte as President, Casaysay served as Consultant on Social Mobilization of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process from September 2016 to January 2018. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)