Ambassador Charles Jose (front row, seventh from left) joins the Philippine Madrigal Singers and Filipino furniture designer and manufacturer Kenneth Cobonpue (front row, seventh from right) after the former’s performance at the Svara Asean musical show.

31 July 2017—The Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur reported that Filipino talents once again shone in this year’s edition of the month-long George Town Festival (GTF), which opened on July 28 in various venues in Penang, Malaysia.

The Philippine Madrigal Singers (Madz), tour guide, stage actor and performance artist Carlos Celdran and furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue were featured in various events of the festival, where Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Charles C. Jose joined guests from the Penang state government, members of the diplomatic corps, artists and art enthusiasts in the GTF’s opening events.

The Madz joined the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra, Indonesian flutist Maestro Gus Teja, local artists Adibah Noor and Sean Ghazi, and Thai mezzo-soprano Anchee in the festival’s opening program held at the Dewan Sri Pinang, dubbed Svara ASEAN.

Highlighting the sounds of the region, the Madz performed a medley of folk, regional and contemporary songs, with their vocal prowess and showmanship delighting the festival’s audience, a throwback to their sold-out performance in 2012. 

In a one-night only engagement, Mr. Celdran performed his critically-acclaimed off-Broadway show, Livin’ La Vida Imelda at Loft 29.  The one-man show attracted local and foreigners alike at the venue, which was performed as a late-night cabaret show.

Using his personal experience, interspersed with disco music and multimedia presentation, the Filipino performance artist brought the house down with his hysterically gossipy stories about the former Filipino First Lady Imelda Marcos and her impact on Filipino history and culture. 


The next day, Mr. Cobonpue joined other ASEAN creative minds in the ASEAN Design Forum held at the Baguanan UAB’s Multipurpose Hall, where the speakers talked about topics such as design, space making, and the impact of the creative industries as a cultural tool.

The month-long GTF was inaugurated in 2010 as a concerted effort to promote arts and heritage in Penang, in line with its inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2008.  It is a feast of theatre, music, dance, film, arts, food, fashion, photography, inspirational talks and visual spectacles on the streets. By bringing together different artistic communities based in Malaysia and abroad - schools, amateur groups, cultural groups and professional performers – the festival becomes the stage for local and international artistic exchange.

In its eighth year, the GTF 2017 will run from 28 July to 3 September 2017. END

Ambassador Jose (right) converses with Filipino tour guide, stage actor and performance Carlos Celdran (left) before the latter’s performance of Livin’ La Vida Imelda.