By PAULINE FAYE V. TRIA
As the famous quote in the Bible goes, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” This rings true in all aspects of life. As much as our bodies need food, water, and shelter, our soul needs to be fed with art such as music.
“Art matters in the life of every Filipino.” That is the vision of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). And in line with this, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO), the premier national orchestra and resident company of the CCP, flew to Bacolod City on the mayor’s dime to bring their musical art to the Bacolodnons. They performed twice, one at the SMX Convention Center Bacolod and the other at the Bacolod City Hall last Jan. 31 and Feb 1 respectively.
The Bacolod concert series is part of the CCP outreach program under the CCP Office of the President under CCP president Arsenio Lizaso.
The PPO’s repertoire was divided into two parts, conducted by PPO’s resident conductor Herminigildo Ranera and Yoshikazu Fukumura. Ranera’s segment came first, a combination of classical and modern songs. It was composed of fan favorites such as songs from the Beauty and the Beast, such as the ever-so-romantic “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Mob Song.” Selections from Les Miserables were also performed, like fan-favorite “I Dreamed a Dream” and the beautiful but heartbreaking “On My Own.” The crowd literally rose from their seats to dance to PPO’s rendition of “Footloose” and the local sensation VST Medley, a mash-up of hit songs from VST and Company. The songs were crowd pleasers, enticing the audience and even the mayor to jump up and dance swing! The songs in the medley were “Awitin Mo At Isasayaw Ko,” “I-Swing Mo Ako,” “Rock Baby Rock,” and “Sumayaw Sumunod.” Other songs played in Ranera’s repertoire were songs from The Phantom of the Opera and the “Traditional Chinese Folksong.”
Fukumura’s repertoire was comprised of classical songs, which serenaded the audience with “Die Fiedermaus Overture,” “Annen Polka,” and “Thunder and Lightning Polka” by Johann Strauss Jr., “Waves of the Danube Waltz” by Josef Ivanovici, selections from My Fair Lady, and “Danzon No. 2” by Arturo Marquez.
To Bing Leonardia, Bacolod City mayor, bringing the PPO to his beloved city was a form of service to the public’s soul. He recalled watching their performance for the first time in Iloilo, and he described it as a life-changing experience—almost “orgasmic,” as he said in his own words. He has been captivated by the PPO’s performances ever since.
Growing up with little exposure to classical music, Bing said there was just something about the harmony and symphony in PPO’s performance that drew him in. He likened the orchestra to his administration as city mayor, where each member would play a different role as part of a well-synchronized team.
“We looked at this as a chance to show to our people that you know, we are supposed to be also some kind of a symphony orchestra in the city— each of us may play different tunes, we [may] have different talents, [but] we can be well-coordinated to form a formidable team,” Bing said.
The stars seemed to align in the mayor’s favor, as problems with the funding were magically solved. The venues for the performances, the plane fare for the orchestra, the hotel accommodations were all sponsored and given for free!
“While we push the economy and all these other so-called material side of life, this one is intangible—this will have that kind of inspiration that will make us even more inspired and more driven,” said Bing.
For CCP president Lizaso, this has been the best outreach project the CCP has ever done so far. Because of the local government’s full support, everything became a breeze. Lizaso said as president of CCP, he is here to bring the arts to all parts of the Philippines, in all walks of life.
“They know that there is CCP, but they don’t know what we do. They do not know we do ballet, that we have PPO, we have the Madrigal Singers. So we’re bringing art to the people—getting them engaged in painting, visual arts, etc,” said Lizaso.