Friday, April 24, 2009

Celebrating Heritage in Songs and Dances

Mankind’s intense expressions and aspirations are manifested through and immortalized in songs and dances, two of the oldest art forms. Every culture has its own trove of song and dance, which is integral in its traditions. They encapsulate the people’s desire and accompany them through their journeys. They capture the prevailing modes of a time and carry them almost to eternity. Although we are of different times and different backgrounds, we are one in the possession of songs and dances. Strangers become friends as we enjoin them to our songs and dances.
Awit at sayaw” (song and dance) is the theme of this year’s Filipino Heritage Festival, celebrated annually since 2003, when it was declared that May, a month replete with fiestas in the Philippines, is National Heritage Month.
For 31 days, performances, heritage tours, conventions, exhibits, food festivals and other interesting activities are lined up all over the country for the extolling and promotion of Filipino heritage. While music and dance have always been part of the celebration, they are given more emphasis and incorporated into more events this year.
“For this year’s festivities, we will reopen a treasure trove of Philippine music mirroring the daily lives of Filipinos. We will also the traditional beliefs and value systems upon which these forms of art are founded,” said Ana Maria Harper, festival director.
Harper, together with Armita Rufino and Araceli Salas, president and finance officer of the Filipino Heritage Foundation, organizes the Filipino Heritage Festival, in liaison with numerous cultural groups and local governments, “to bring the Filipino people to a new awareness of age-old traditions, cultural practices, song, dance and poetry, and centuries-old architectural wonders.”
Every year, the festival opens and closes in different parts of the archipelago. This year, it opens in Naga and Legazpi, the two most progressive cities of the Bicol Region in southern Luzon, with cultural nights full of traditional songs and dances, performed by Local Council of Women of Oas, Ligao Choral Group, Culture, Arts and Heritage Society of Oas Youth and other homegrown talents. Additionally, there will also be historico-cultural tours, a feast of local cuisine, a Santacruzan, a demonstration of native games and exhibits, from April 29 to May 2.
After that, the ball will roll.

Music proves to be the front-runner with several performances throughout the country, emphasizing the traditional kind. The first musical event is a concert of colonial church music at the Santa Ana Church in Manila called “Saludo a La Virgen Desamparado,” slated for May 4. Church music will also reverberate in Leyte as it celebrates a mini-version of the festival throughout the island, particularly in several “heritage masses.” The heritage mass in Palo on May 10 will feature songs of the late Agustin El O’Mora, performed by the Our Lord’s Transfiguration Parish Choir, opening the celebration in Leyte. Then the one in Tanauan, on May 17, will have the Balinsasayaw Singers. On the other hand, the heritage mass in Tolosa, on May 24, will feature the songs of the late Dr. Virginio Fuentes, performed by the Saint Michael Parish Choir.
The concert of the Philippine Youth Symphonic Band may contain church music as it performs at the Saints Peter and Paul Church in Makati City on May 16. The others will feature secular music like the “Parian: Nam Kuwan” concert in Binondo on May 16; a show by the Marikina Rondalla at the Marikina City Museum, accompanying a photographic exhibit on Philippine fiestas, on May 18; a performance of the Philippine Opera Company for the Filipiniana exhibit of Patis Tesoro at Robinson’s Place, Ermita, Manila, on May 18; a concert of the Banda Kawayan and the Las Piñas Pangkat Kawayan at the Starmall department store in Las Pinas City on May 28; and traditional Pampangan folk songs at the Panlilio ancestral house in San Fernando, Pampanga, on May 17.
Music is integral in several performances including a “19th century evening in Intramuros” at the Casa Blanca, Plaza San Luis, on May 12; and the Leyte-Samar Awit-Sayaw Showcase in Tacloban City on May 31.
Music serves as background as dance takes center stage in Darangen ni Bantugen, the Maranao epic turned into ballet by Gener Caringal and performed by the Philippine Ballet Theater. Last year, this served as the highlight of the National Heritage Month celebration, which took on epics as theme. This year, the baler will be toured to Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, on May 23; Victorias, Negros Occidental, on May 25; Iloilo City, Iloilo, on May 27; and Roxas City, Capiz, on May 31.
This year, the highlight will be the musical Mga Ginintuang Alaala ni Conching Sunico at ng Met, which tells about the story of the late doyenne of the Metropolitan Theater, a Manila landmark that is now undergoing renovation and will be opened on June. Fondly called Tita Conching, Sunico was the daughter of one of Manila’s richest men, Don Telesforo Chuidian, during the late 19th century. She had become a style icon and a source of inspiration until today. Mga Ginintuang Alaala will be staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on May 14 and 15.
On the other hand, the music of the spoken word will be experienced at the Timpalak Balagtasan in Hagonoy, Bulacan, on May 6; and at The Block in SM North Edsa, Quezon City, on May 23. Last year, the balagtasan, a debate in poetic form named after one of the Philippines’ greatest poets Francisco Balagtas, was a staple in Heritage Month shows.

The exhibits will be mostly dominated by photography, showing Philippine popular culture and architectural achievements. On May 1, a photographic exhibit of Philippine fiestas of Donald Tapan will open at the Robinsons Galleria in Ortigas, Mandaluyong City. Then it will move to Fil Spa Resort in Los Banos, Laguna.
An exhibit of lighthouses will open in Cagayan de Oro City on May 7, while
Another one on American colonial bridges will be mounted at the Gameng: Museo Ilocos Norte, Laoag City, on May 21.
Then an exhibit on Spanish colonial bridges will be mounted at the National Museum in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, opening on May 21; and at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City opening on May 26, accompanied by a performance by the Bayanihan National Dance Company.
Art deco buildings in the country will be the subject of an exhibit at the Ayala Center, Makati City, opening on May 8, while the banig or mat will be the subject of another one at Rustan’s Makati City on May 20. The latter will be accompanied by a demonstration of mat-making and a performance of Visayan love songs.
An exhibit of Santo Nino icons will transpire in Tacloban City, Leyte, on May 30.
Photographer-brothers George and Donald Tapan will join together in an exhibit on Cordilleran scenes in Baguio City, from May 10 to 14. On the other hand, a Bangsa Moro exhibit will be at SM Mall of Asia, accompanied by a performance of “Vinta” by the Philippine Ballet Theater, during the opening on May 7. The latter will move to SM Cebu, Cebu City, on May 22, with a performance of Darangen ni Bantugen.
Other exhibits include “Sketches: Motifs and Patterns in Dress Design by Ben Farrales” at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, from May 13 to June 13; a Filipiniana exhibit by the Camera Club at the Malacanang Palace, on May 15, at the Glorietta Mall in Makati City on May 21; the “Dangal ng Lahi: National Artists” exhibit in Davao City on May 19; “Legacy: Portraits” by Federico Alcuaz at the White Cube Gallery, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, on May 21; “Revisiting Romeo Tabuena” at the Ayala Museum, Makati City, on May 22; and “Heritage in Barcelona” at the Casa Asia, Barcelona, Spain, on May 22.
To advance knowledge and awareness, exchange ideas and further studies, there will be conventions, conferences and forum such as the Sixth Biennial National Convention of Church, Cultural Workers and Practitioners on May 4 in Laoag City; the Ika-37 Pambansang Gawaing-Kapulungan sa Filipino, from May 4 to 7, in Baguio City; a seminar-workshop on history and heritage in Dauis, Bohol, on May 14; and a forum on the centennial of the laying of the cornerstone of the Philippine Legislative Building at the National Museum, Manila, on May 20.
These foods for the soul are complemented by actual food in an Ilocos Sur food festival at the Café Jeepney of the InterContinental Manila in Makati City from May 5 to 31. Food is integral in many human activities as well as heritage.
There will also be tours emphasizing on heritage. On May 9, there will be one in Bataan, focusing on the restored ancestral house of the Acusar family. A tour of Malabon City tour will happen on May 16. Walk around Manila and spot its art deco buildings on May 17. Join the heritage tour in Leyte on May 23.
Since May is the month of Flores the Mayo and Santacruzan, there will be a Flores de Mayo in Manila on May 3, and a Santacruzan in Bacolod City on May 24.
Other interesting events for the National Heritage Month include an auction of hand-painted shells at the Goldenberg Mansion, Malacanang, Manila; the declaration of the Dauis Church complex as a National Historical Landmark and installation of historical marker on May 16; the installation of historical marker for the Punta Cruz Watchtower and Maribojoc Church on May 16; the recognition of heritage workers at Dauis Convent on May 16; the Second Leyte Heritage Awards in Tacloban City; the publication and launching of Textile Conservation and 75 select historic preservation legacies of the National Historical Institute; and a Flag Day celebration at the Marcela Agoncillo historical landmark in Taal, Batangas.

Traditionally celebratory, May has indeed become more exciting and enriching with focus on heritage. FHF’s partners and sponsors for the holding of the Filipino Heritage Festival are the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Air Philippines, the InterContinental Manila, the Mandarin Hotel Manila, Philippine Airlines, Ayala Museum, Robinsons malls, Rustan’s, Security Bank Corp., Tanduay Distillers, Department of Tourism and the local governments involved.

To learn more, visit FHF Web site at or call their office at 892-5865.

1 comment:

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