|Deanna Ongpin-Recto (right) and Rod Paras Perez|
Vim Nadera: What comes to mind when you hear “University of the Philippines”? Why?
Deanna Ongpin-Recto: U.P. was where I discovered myself, where I bloomed intellectually, became an adult, and where I spent some of the happiest years of my life.
VN: How did you begin as a cultural luminary?
DOR: Quite by accident. As with most developments in my professional life. I was a misfit at the Department of Foreign Affairs, and so when I was offered the post of Vice President/Artistic Director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, I decided to accept it, in spite of everyone's warning that CCP was "a viper's nest."
VN: You took up English in college and in graduate school? Why did you shift to studying French?
DOR: I didn't. I chose to study French in U.P. because as an English major, I had to know another foreign language. Later when I started to live and work in Paris, where I ended up staying for some 18 years, it was absolutely necessary to speak the language.
VN: Please tell us your unforgettable experiences when you attended Art History courses at the Ecole du Louvre and Institut de l’art et d’archeologie at the University of Paris?
DOR: It was dramatically different from my classes in U.P. At the Ecole du Louvre, the classes were of the "cours magistral" type, where some 200 students sit in an auditorium and the professor delivers his lecture on stage. At the Institut de l'art et d'archeologie, the classes were smaller, the professor gave his lecture, and the students took down every word he said. In both institutions, there was no interaction/exchange between professors and students in class.
VN: Was it your dream to end up as vice president and artistic director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines?
DOR: Not at all.
VN: How would you describe the cultural scene during the 90s? Did it change?
DOR: It was much more politicized than it is today, probably due to lingering issues brought on by the events at EDSA and the ouster of Marcos, and the departure of Imelda from the cultural scene.