Saturday, May 30, 2009


This is why:


(video clip of the emcee enumerating the prizes I won)

Thank you so much to my dear mother who was kind enough to accompany me to one of the scariest/happiest/most memorable experiences of my life!

Friday, May 29, 2009

On Harana: Warriors Perform

(Photo credits: The Philippine Opera company at

   (Foreword: Forgive me if I am redundant in my use of adjectives, but there are only so many ways one can describe something that is magnificent, sublime, exquisite and down right HISTORIC!)   

   If there is one show that all Filipinos should be MANDATED by government to watch (will that be ever possible? hehe), it's definitely HARANA.

   A feast for the ears

   HARANA featured the impressive vocal talents of sopranos Ma. Florence Aguilar-Barquez, Marya Eliza Deeda Barretto, Ana Feleo (also the Producer), and Karla Patricia Gutierrez (who is also POC's Artistic/Managing Director). Tenor Sherwin Sozon and baritone Miguel Castro also gave solid performances but the male singer who stood out that evening was Lawrence A. Jatayna, whose beautiful baritone voice and solid technique made audience members go: "Josh Groban WHO??!" :)

   HARANA featured five different "suites," with songs as follows:
   The Igorot Suite (Dumbele, In Salidumay, Ay ay Salidumay)
   The Maria Clara Suite (Bituing Marikit, Sampaguita, Dahil Sa Isang Bulaklak, Pamaypay ng Maynila, Iyo Kailan Pa Man)

   The Rural Suite (Ano Kaya ang Kapalaran, Ang Maya, Ibong Kakanta-kanta, Kalesa)

   The Muslim Suite (Asik -- performed by Ina Feleo, Mamayog Akun, Dayo Dayo Kupita, Pokpok Alimpako, Dayang Dayang)

   The Folk Suite (Waray Waray, Kung Ako'y Mag-aasawa, Sa Kabukiran, Rosas Pandan, Manang Biday, Atin Cu Pung Singsing, Sarumbanggi, Pobreng Alindahaw, Sa Libis Ng Nayon)

   The Contemporary Suite (Saan Ka Man Naroroon, Hindi Kita Malimot, Bato Sa Buhangin, Anak, Nais Ko, Bayan Ko)
   It's dificult to pinpoint which number was the best since the whole concert was so polished, and the performers well-prepared! But the highlight of the evening (for me ) was Ina Feleo's Muslim dance, "Asik." I have seen my fair share of cultural performances, but I've never witnessed a more spectacular Muslim dancer. I felt I was watching a true-blooded Muslim princess, she was THAT graceful, THAT masterful! It's finallly proven... you do not need to undress to dance seductively. ASIK definitely had several pulses in the audience go crazy. But I do not think ASIK is meant to be a seductive dance. There's just something so darn seductive about a fully-clothed woman with a regal majestic air, proudly deigning to honor us with a dance. I have to say it in Filipino... kinilabutan ako sa sayaw niya.

     Another highlight was also the Contemporary Suite, with a lot of kinilabutan akomoments, with "Anak" and especially "Bayan Ko." It was a hair-raising experience... with seven masterful singers singing with such infectious fervor and passion... with the Filipino flag projected on screen... and the whole thing ending with the performers raising their right hand to their chest, saluting the flag of our Motherland.

      There were only 7 performers on the playbill but there were more than seven, as several members of the audience were singing along. They couldn't help it! I'm referring to the lolos and lolas who seemed to be, for the most part, balikbayans. Tears were rolling down their cheeks as they listened to songs from their youth, songs that are unfortunately no longer heard on the radio or on TV. And what beautiful songs they were. 

     Purists might not wholeheartedly approve of the modernized adaptations of the Filipino songs (courtesy of Von De Guzman), nor the artistically bountiful choreography (courtesy of Ina Feleo) that all the singers performed that made me gasp and think, "How on EARTH do they manage to still sing, after doing all that?"  On the other hand, I greatly appreciate how HARANA made Filipino songs accessible even to the young audience member who has never heard a single folk song or kundiman in his life.

   A feast for the eyes:

   With five suites, that made five different costumes per performer, all so rich in detail, so exquisite in craftmanship, that a large part of the concert's success is owed to costume designer Zenaida Gutierrez. The lighting was also well done, courtesy of Melvin Manuel. There were scenes that the singers were not moving at all, just singing, but the lighting made for a very dramatic tableau.
   A mission: 

   Yet another hair-raising moment. In the performer's mini-speeches towards the end of the show, they said:

   "Filipino music is a precious jewel that needs to be protected. We are more than performers. We are warriors, tasked with the noble duty of guarding our rich cultural legacy, until the next generation is ready to receive it."

   Amen to that! :) 

    Watching HARANA makes one proud to be a Filipino. Everyone watching that night left the hall with emotions running high, with renewed passion to serve the Motherland in whatever capacity they are able to.

    I can only guess how much more hair-raising, how much more emotional and memorable an experience it will be for the overseas Filipinos who will get to watch HARANA perform in their June 11 performance at the Theater de Compagnie in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


   (HARANA is showing for the last time tonight, 8 pm, at the RCBC Plaza in Makati. Do watch it! You won't regret it! For tickets, call POC at 892-87-86)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Quotable Quotes from my favorite tenor, Ian Bostridge

    Ian Bostridge is a rarity in the singing world, in that his original career was that of an academic. He studied history and philosophy in both Cambridge and Oxford, he's got a scholarly book published and everything... and jumped to a singing career after getting his PhD from the latter school.

     I must confess, he is the only tenor I listen to for exceedingly long periods of time. I simply never get tired of hearing his voice! I have four of his albums now and won't rest until I have them all. Not only does he have a throat touched by God, but his intelligence and musicality all contribute to masterful performances that pierce me to my core.

    Some quotable quotes from him in his interviews:

    Interviewer: Presumably, music is fundamentally irrational? 

    Ian: Which is why I'm so attracted to it. We're masquerading as rational people while being deeply irrational. Music is a way of letting out irrationality in a measured way. I'm an agnostic who wishes he was a theist. Music is my religion.

     Interviewer: Do you feel that ego sometimes gets in the way with other singers?

  Ian: Yes! I won't say who, but I think that it can. In spite of the fact that Fischer-Dieskau has a beautiful voice, you always feel that the voice is at the service of the music.

Interviewer: Do you find your academic background, the natural scholarly inquiry, informs your approach to new works?

Ian: It depends. If I'm interested in the genesis of the piece and I want to know about the period that it's written in, then I will read around it. But sometimes I'll just learn the music, fall in love with the tune and get on with that... Most of what I developed about the piece came out of the process of rehearsal — and I'm actually very loath to turn that into an intellectual process. I've always had a tendency to treat theater too intellectually, to think that if we find out the intention of the dramatist or composer then we solve the problems. What you really need to do is find the internal logic of the work that's actually written into the piece.

Interviwer: Do you have to consciously turn your mind off, then?

Ian: Sometimes. You can't sing intellectually; you have to sing with your body. Learning to sing over the past years has largely been a matter of trusting the physical side of things and realizing that a lot of it is athletic rather than intellectual. I don't think singing is ever really an intellectual thing.

Ian may not believe in God but I cannot help but thank His Creator each time I hear this marvelous lyric tenor in song. 

(For the youtube video of Ian singing composer Ralph Vaughan Williams' setting of the Rosetti poem SILENT NOON, click here.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Love Poem Found Amongst The Pages Of A Second-hand Book

   While there's nothing quite like the scent of a brand new paperback, there is much to be said for purchasing second-hand books. Not only do you end up saving hard-earned pesos, but you end up possessing a bit of history. As the protagonist of one book said, "Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true."

     Imagine my surprise when I discovered a love poem while turning the pages of my second-hand book, "For the Love of God." Reading it brought tears to my eyes.

     This is what it said:

     (Dated 2-7-03)
     (Illustration of a heart with the words I love you, O.V. below)

          *Aside:  Am not really sure if the initials are O.V. ... they could be D.J... the   
            handwriting is a bit messy

     I love you divinely
     Divine Valentine
     You're the apple of my spiritual eye
     Your pumpkin-colored robe of the sky
     Tells me you hear
     Tells me you're near
     Tells me, my dear
     I love you divinely too
     No one compares
     No one dares
     My heart is yours forever

   Hmmm... come to think of it, it could be addressed to Jesus! Or God! :) 

   Regardless of whom it's meant for, I was deeply touched by the poem. I wonder whatever happened to its author. There's no name on the book's cover. 

    Hehe. What a pleasant surprise. :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On the Value of Arnis

Came across this comment on the article of William Esposo on Values Reform in the Philippine Star (for the full article, click here)

How I hope I can continue my training even when the academic school year starts :)

For UP-D students out there, you might be interested in joining Sangkil Karasak, the arnis org.

noypibone  (posted on May 21, 2009 03:56 AM
Member since Feb 07, 2009

Mr. Chairwrecker, 

I share your sentiments regarding the overhaul of Filipino values. Problem is, we don’t seem to have anything to build on. The Church would love to have us believe that they are our hope for salvation and prosperity. We know how that’s turned out after 500 years. The pontifications and grandstanding righteous indignations of our leaders have all turned hollow and trite. Most of the ideas, high-minded or simplistic, seem to be just dreamy abstract concepts.

We think there is one Filipino treasure we can utilize. ARNIS. A few of us bloggers in the sports section have been advocating for the revival, promotion and elevation of Arnis to harness it’s values and virtues for nation-building. Think Bushido (samurai, karate, judo) for Japan, Taekwondo for Korea and Kung-Fu for China. What these martial arts contributed to the character, identity and spirit of their respective countries, Arnis will do for Pilipinas.

The movement has slowly been gaining traction. Sen. Zubiri has introduced a bill (not because of our blogs) to institute Arnis as the national sport and Mikee Romero, owner of harbour centre, has thrown his support. For now, Bill Velasco seems to be the only media practitioner campaigning for Arnis.

I’ve repeatedly asked, what do we have that is unequivocally Filipino to the bone, recognized, appreciated and even admired all over the world, requires and instills discipline, exhibits bravery, creativity and determination, deeply rooted in our history and reflects all that is good in the Filipino? 

Arnis may not, and is not, the only answer but it is a damn good start and foundation.

Part 1 of my favorite musical animated film of all time... "THE NUTCRACKER!!"
I remember seeing this as a young kid... even before FANTASIA. I badly wanted to take ballet lessons after seeing this, haha! I fell in love with classical music in general because of this cartoon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vivaldi's FOUR SEASONS: A Sand Animation Film by Ferenc Cakó

Genre: Animation
I come across the most interesting things on youtube while surfing for videos to show my high school students for their Music class. :) I thought this was a worthy successor to Disney's FANTASIA. Galing galing!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

EFFECTIVE TEACHING -- Going Beyond Folders
This is the web site that accompanies the incredible book by Harry and Rosemary Wong, "HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE TEACHER: THE FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL." It's a must-read for every beginning teacher! I wish I read it a year ago when I first started teaching. This page contains additional information and powerpoint presentations that supplement the book.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

HARANA *excited*

I've got my tickets reserved already!! :) The question is, do YOU?

The entry below was taken from the official blog a


Eight of the country’s most awarded classical singers will come together in one show to outdo each other in a rare display of vocal powers.

The Philippine Opera Company, home of the country’s premiere opera singers, proudly presents HARANA.Featuring the golden voices of sopranos Ana Feleo, Deeda Barretto, Karla Gutierrez, Florence Aguilar, tenors, Glen Gaerlan, Sherwin Sozon and baritones Jack Salud and Lawrence Jatayna. This show promises to take its audience to a spectacular musical journey showcasing the very best of Philippine music. From indigenous and pre-colonial to contemporary and fusion, each musical suite is theatrically presented with authenticity, originality and visual excitement.

HARANA is Philippine Opera Company’s newest addition to its exciting line up of show packages. Composed of 8 highly classically trained singers – 4 male and female singers – Harana aims to showcase the evolution of Philippine music through song and movement. Each suite is theatrically presented with authenticity, originality and visual excitement. The word “Harana” is the Tagalog (the predominant Philippine dialect) name of a traditional form of courtship in which a man woos a woman’s affection by singing underneath her window. The creation of each Harana suite is a product of thorough research with the commitment to preserve indigenous Philippine music and its appropriate dance and folklore. It also aims to restructure and enhance these research findings to evolve repertoires suited to the demands of contemporary theater; and to promote international goodwill through performances at home and abroad. The result is an absolute feast to the senses.

In cooperation with Narda’s and Yuchengco Group of Companies. HARANA shall be staged on August 28, 29, and 30, 2008, 8:00 pm at the Carlos P. Romulo auditorium, RCBC Plaza, MakatiFor ticket reservation please contact Doris Campaña at 892-8786 or Ticketworld at 8919999 or log on to

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