Country’s renaissance of rondalla sizzles up in Tagum City

Oct 7-13, 2010

By Cha Monforte

The sad fact is that rondalla, which came to our shore during Spanish time, is fast-disappearing all throughout the country. But in Tagum City rondalla is being rediscovered and preserved as part of our country’s rich musical heritage.

One significant outcome of Tagum City’s yearly Musikahan Festival is when a renaissance of rondalla in the country is being pushed by Mayor Rey “Chiong Oy” Uy and her better half Alma Uy, who are both music lovers and patrons of arts.

“Rondalla gives an honor to us,”a quips Mayor Uy apointing a city’s own rondalla ensemble that has recently made raves and earned standing ovation in performing at Gulangyu Island of Xiamen City, China in time with Gulangyu Autumn Music Week.

There in China’s known music island, the nine-member Tagum City National Comprehensive High School Youth Rondalla Ensemble under their master conductor Lorna Mendoza performed showing what’s the city’s Musikahan Festival is all about.

The city’s rondalla ensemble along with other performers representing the country had their first performance as part of Davao Region’s gala show last Sept. 13 for the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, held from Sept. 8-13.

At the audience-filled Philippine Pavilion, Ms. Alma Uy, chairperson of Tagum City Tourism Council, gave her message about tourism, arts and culture, the Filipino-Chinese heritage in Davao and invitation to Chinese nationals to visit the city as destination of culture and historical friendship.

It was on the gala’s cocktail which was served with Filipino best delicacies that Madam Alma had a lenghty talk with Shanghai’s Philippine Consul-General Maria Rowena Sanchez  about Tagum’s assets and opportunities of sisterhood ties with China’s competitive cities that would potentially create exchange programs and lead to investments and tourist arrivals in the city.

The Gulangyu’s invitation came with it. Because the city’s rondalla ensemble performed so outstanding during their gala at Shanghai, they were then invited by the Gulangyu-based Chinese Musicians’ Association to perform in the island in cultural interaction with the student-artists of Xiamen Music School who are known to their own pipas, the Chinese traditional string instruments. It brought a lively sharing of cultural heritage between Philippines and China.

To show more the richness of musical tradition of the country, the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) also enjoined folk singer Joey Ayala and Polytechnic University of the Philippines’ Banda Kawayan to perform for the country in the island that has been hosting a world’s piano festival.

When they performed there it was time of test to Tagum rondalla’s renaissance brought abroad when the Manila hostage crisis just unfolded sparking animosities between the two countries. But they performed with their best Filipino pieces from traditional to contemporary music before different nationalities around the world visiting the Philippine Pavilion.

But Xiamen’s Philippine Consul General Raul Hernandez congratulated Tagum delegation led by Ms. Alma Uy for “bringing back the morale of the Filipino people in China amidst the crisis we have faced around the world and in spite of the tragic incident happened in Manila hostage crisis, the Chinese community welcome you with warm acceptance for your outstanding performance last night, it created a strong ties between Philippines and China.”

Now just as inspired over the success of a progeny of his own Musikahan Festival, Mayor Uy says he wants “to teach and hand down to the young generation” how to play musical instruments like the guitar and those consists of rondalla’s instruments such as the pear-shaped piccolo bandurria, bandurria, and la-ud, and the guitar-shaped octavina and mandola, guitarra, and bajo de unas or double bass. “Di ko anang indak-indak kay daghan ang di kabalo mogamit ug musical instrument.”

With that, the traditional sound that prominently gives a repertoire for rural life and accompaniment to folk dancing and singing finds a good home for its renaissance in Tagum City, mixing with the young’s preoccupation with various genres and subgenres of rock, pop, reggae, ska, hip-hop, or music videos that the city’s Musikahan are also promoting. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte with reports)



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