The National Symphony Orchestra will continue with its scheduled performance in Manila in April despite a critic's suggestion that it should cancel as a political gesture, music director Mstislav Rostropovich said at a press conference yesterday.

"A performance in a country does not mean approval of the government of that country," said the orchestra's executive director, Henry Fogel, in response to the suggestion from critic Paul Hume of radio station WGMS.

Rostropovich recalled that he had been deprived of his citizenship by the Soviet government in 1978. If he were invited to conduct the NSO in Moscow "in a concert hall seating only the 17 members of the Politburo, I would not conduct that concert," he said.

But, he added, "if they . . . bring the Russian people who need this beauty, this contact with American people and these musicians . . . then I go and conduct . . . That is contact between people of one country and people of another country . . . We can reach through beauty."

The Manila concert is part of a tour of five Asian countries this season.

For the 1983-84 season, highlights will include a tour of the American Southwest, several premiere performances and a celebration of Krzysztof Penderecki's 50th birthday with the composer present.

Penderecki will conduct the NSO in the American premiere of his Cello Concerto, with Rostropovich as soloist, Nov. 23-27. On the same program Rostropovich will conduct the world premiere of three sections of Penderecki's "Requiem," his current work-in-progress. Rostropovich will be with the orchestra for seven weeks next fall before taking a sabbatical in 1984. The Southwestern tour, Oct. 4-13, will include performances, with Rostropovich, in Houston, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Palm Springs, Los Angeles and Pasadena, Calif.

The mention of Pasadena reminded Rostropovich of the Super Bowl, and he recalled a phone conversation he had after the game with violinist Isaac Stern, who was in Pasadena.

"Why are you not congratulating me on the Redskins?" he asked Stern. "I was there, and I saw how good players they are," he said Stern told him.

Guest conductors appearing with the orchestra next season will include Yehudi Menuhin, Maxim Shostakovich, Andrew Davis, Leonard Slatkin, Yoel Levi, Riccardo Chailly and Herbert Blomstedt.

Other guest artists includes a puppet ensemble as well as the usual array of soloists from Ashkenazy to Zukerman. Bob Brown Puppet Productions will be featured in a performance of Manuel de Falla's "Master Peter's Puppet Show" under the baton of principal guest conductor Rafael Fru hbeck de Burgos. Two artists who will make their first appearances with Rostropovich and the NSO are pianist Annie Fischer and cellist Carter Brey.

Besides the Penderecki premieres, the orchestra will give the world premiere of a commissioned work by American composer Jacob Druckman, which was originally scheduled for this season but not completed on time.