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PHSA pioneers distinguish themselves in the arts

/ 12:24 AM December 17, 2011

RED. First Filipino to win Cannes film fest's Golden Palm.

It was IT just over 30 years ago that the first graduates of the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) left the school’s Mt. Makiling campus to try and make their mark on the world. Now, the school’s alumni number more than 700, and quite a few have indeed gone on to distinguish themselves in a variety of fields. If you’re an arts enthusiast, you may be familiar with some of their names:

Rowena Arrieta, a member of the school’s first batch (Tolentino, 1979), is one of the country’s most celebrated concert pianists. She became the first Filipino Tchaikovsky laureate in 1982 after placing fifth in the piano division of the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Competition when she was 18. She followed that with a first place win at the José Iturbi International Piano Competition in 1986. Arrieta was also the first Filipino scholar at the Moscow Conservatory of Music, from which she graduated summa cum laude. Now based in New York, she continues to perform in concert halls around the world.


The Reds. Brothers and fellow filmmakers, Jon and Raymond Red, both majored in Visual Arts at the PHSA, batches Amorsolo-Abelardo (’81) and Aquino (’82), respectively. Jon is known for directing TV shows, short films, and full-length features such as “Still Lives,” and “Utang ni Tatang.” One of his short films, “Es,” won the Best Jury Prize at the 1991 Mondiale de la Video in Brussels. He also directed several episodes of ABS-CBN’s now-defunct “Sineskwela,” which bagged the Prix de Jeunesse at the 20th Television Science Programme Festival in Paris in 2003.



Raymond Red made his first film when he was just 17 – “Ang Magpakailanman” – which won in the 1983 Experimental Cinema of the Philippines’ short film festival, student film division. These days, however, he is more well-known for another short, “Anino,” which bagged the Palme d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000, making him the first Filipino to win the coveted honor. Red has also produced full-length features, the historic films, “Bayani” and “Sakay,” and is the recent recipient of UP’s College of Fine Arts’ Alab ng Sining Award.

Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino, who recently won the Best Supporting Actress trophy at this year’s Cinemalaya, was a Theater Arts major and Jon Red’s batchmate at the PHSA (Batch ’81) and has been acting for television, movies and the stage for decades. She is married to fellow thespian, Noni Buencamino.

Another Theater Arts major and member of Batch ’81 is singer and performing artist, Grace Nono. Known for producing works that are deeply rooted in indigenous Filipino music, she was named one of the Outstanding Women In the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) in 2001, and has won her share of Awit and Katha Awards over the years.

These are only some of the notable graduates of the PHSA – and note that we’ve only looked at the first four batches. We’ll take a gander at what the younger batches have been up to in the following weeks, so stay tuned!

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TAGS: Celebrities, Entertainment, Noelani Torre, Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA), Red
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