Bong, Kara and I had the privilege of witnessing the world-class performance of the Philippine Opera Company last Saturday, November 14, at the Insular Life Auditorium in Alabang. The Program was titled “Harana,” and featured Philippine Classical and contemporary music, divided into 6 suites: Igorot, Maria Clara (which included Pamaypay ng Maynila and Iyo Kailan pa man), Rural (which had the ibon medly and Kalesa, my most favorite pieces), Muslim, Folk, and the Contemporary Suites (which included Nais ko, Anak, and Bayan Ko).
Harana is the Philippine term for serenade, which is a traditional form of courtship in which a man woos a woman’s affection by singing underneath her window. “Harana” showcased the evolution of Philippine Music through song, movement, and drama.
Performers included Philippine Opera Company’s Artistic and Managing Director Karla Gutierrez (who was very very exceptional), Florence Aguilar, Arlynne Tecson (not sure, though if that’s her name), Sherwin Sozon, Noel Rayos, Miguel Castro, and Juan Alberto Gaerlan whose lapel mic malfunctioned but whose voice nevertheless defied the circumstances.
Words aren’t enough to describe how they performed. The whole show was just superb (for lack of proper words to define it). While watching (and listening), one couldn’t help but be transformed to that distant past when life was so much simpler, and one’s form of entertainment consisted of singing and swaying to music. It made me appreciate Philippine classical music more, the kundimans and folk music our lolos and lolas grew up to. My most favorite number was “Kalesa,” sung by the male members of the ensemble. I know this one by heart because a few years back, our company choir (of which I am a part), sang this during a Company awards programme. It also helped that it’s a funny, fast song. (Kabayo ay di natin problema, Pulot at damo lang ay tama na. Matulin din sa kalsada, Tumatakbong maginhawa, Wala pang gasolina). And yeah, it brought back memories of my once-upon-a-time ambition of being a classical singer. haha!
The show ended with an emotional rendition of “Bayan Ko.” Then, when all of us kept repeating our shouts of “More! More! More!”, the group obliged by singing (and inviting everybody to sing) “Gaano Kita Kamahal.” It surprised me to find out that I still know the song, so I sang with everybody wholeheartedly.
After the show, I asked Kara if she liked it, and she said YES! smiling widely. That was actually one of my night’s highlights–knowing that Kara enjoyed the performance as much as I did. Or maybe I was just a tad happier because all throughout the show, I just couldn’t help but smile. (haha! The last time I felt as giddy as this was when I watched The CompanY’s last concert at Aliw Theater). I realized it’s only very rare that I get the chance to watch genuinely great artists, so yeah, I was also very happy. Needless to say, Bong, was , too.
Harana was the last offering of Filfest Cultural Foundation’s second season, and was co-presented by Insular Life, which is celebrating its 99th founding anniversary this year.