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Music and dance mark UP Diliman Month

(March 8)―The Office of the Chancellor (OC) through the Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts (OICA) and in cooperation with the UP Theater Complex (UPTC) designed an interesting mix of performances and exhibitions to showcase the campus’ abundance and variety of talents in the UP Diliman Month last February.

Himigsikan sa Lagun.  As the overall organizer, OICA dusted off its yearly offering, the Himigsikan sa Lagun series with an interesting mix of performers at the newly-renovated Beta Theatrum.


The theme for the open-air concerts took off from last year’s 40th anniversary of the declaration of martial law.  According to the OICA, the era from the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s was characterized by both rebellion and a profound celebration of life and freedom.  This was manifest not only in music and the arts but also in the transformational movements of the time.  The pervasive themes of the concerts and performances of this year’s Diliman Month is “an unapologetic renewal of the commitment to the freedom of that era.”  Performers included Jun Latonio, Yogee “Gaya” De Jesus, Emmanuel “Jem” Florendo, and Melvin Tiangco (February 3), Becky Abraham, Lester Demetillo, Lorie Paredes and Mario Andres (February 10), Heber Bartolome (February 17), and Mike Hanopol (February 24). 

Himigsikan was staged in the four Sundays of February at 5p.m. and was open to the public.

The UPTC, on the other hand, had its Friday Night concerts.  The Friday concerts were OC’s offering through the University Theater in cooperation with the OICA.

Bongga.  First of the Friday concerts and UP Diliman Month’s opening salvo was “Bongga,” staged February 1 at the University Theater, featured four of the University’s beloved and acclaimed performing groups: the UP Concert Chorus or Korus, UP Varsity Pep Squad, UP Orchestra and UP ARCO.  “Bongga,” directed by Peter Alcedo and scripted by Vlad Gonzales, featured popular and well-loved music especially-arranged for “Bongga” by Crina Cayabyab and Eman de Leon. 


The cast of “Bongga” at the concert finale.

Dr. Jovy M. Peregrino of the College of Arts and Letters brought the house down with his hosting talent, even getting audience participation from Dr. Zosimo Lee of the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy and Dr. Cynthia Grace C. Gregorio of the College of Science, the latter reciting her “The Door” poem.

Surprise numbers came in the form of Korus conductor Janet Sabas-Aracama’s cover of Ryan Cayabyab’s “Limang Dipang Tao,” while the UP Varsity Pep Squad and the University Theater’s Artistic Director Rubén D.F. Defeo danced to the song’s beat.

Defeo said his dance number was a sneak peek to the comeback of the University-wide faculty follies “Hagikhikan,” after a two-year hiatus.

“Bongga,” loosely translated to English means “fabulous,” ended with just that, a fabulous production number of the four performing groups to the tune of Rene Garcia’s “Bongga Ka Day!” made popular by the Hotdog band. 

Succeeding Friday concerts featured the UP Jazz Ensemble’s performance of “Jazz@Heart” (February 8) at the Beta Theatrum.  The third concert on February 15 featured Rom Dongeto of “Kanlungan” and “Tatsulok” fame, together with Joven Aguilar, Rey Abella, Joel Cristobal, Joey Maurillo and Adie Saliva.  The concert, “Pag-ibig at Panahon” at the UP Amphitheater, had a nationalistic and post-Valentine theme.  February’s fourth Friday had UP Diliman dealing with nature’s fickle mood, rearranging the scheduled outdoor “Pastorale” (February 22) to an indoor concert.  Ending the Friday night concert and closing the Diliman Month was Korus’ performance at the Bulwagan ng Dangal (BnD) on March 1.

Meanwhile, throughout February, UP next saw the performing groups stage their solo shows beginning with the UP Orchestra and UP Arco’s “Pastorale,” the UP Pep with “Elevasion” (February 27) and ending with Korus’ “UPCC@BnD.”

Pastorale.  The fourth Friday of February had UP Orchestra taking center stage and performing the fourth movement of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s “Pastorale.”  The concert ended with a warm and thunderous standing ovation, belittling the day’s earlier mad dash to set up indoors due to a persistent downpour that began the day before. 


The UP Orchestra under the baton of Prof. Edna Marcil M. Martinez warmed the audience in an otherwise
cold night with their performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Pastorale.”

Originally scheduled as an outdoor concert at the Carillon Tower and Plaza at 6 p.m., the concert was moved to the University Theater Lobby instead.  The rains however did not stop people from coming nor did it dampen spirits enough to stop the concert from pushing through. 

Part One had excerpts of Benjamin Britten’s “Simple Symphony for String Orchestra” (1st Movement-Boisterous Bourree and 4th Movement-Frolicsome Finale), Bela Bartok’s “Romanian Folk Dances” with arrangements by Arthur Willner for String Orchestra, and the only Filipino composition, Ryan Cayabyab’s “Limang Dipang Tao” with arrangement originally for the Athenaeum String Quartet by Ana Castillo-Ortiz. 

The three arrangements were performed by the UP ARCO Strings Orchestra.

Part Two had the UP College of Music Guitar Faculty Quartet performing Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto Andaluz for Four Guitar (Philippine Premiere).”  The Guitar Faculty Quartet is composed of Lester Demetillo (Guitar 1), Nathan Manimtim (Guitar 2), Solaiman Jamisolamin (Guitar 3) and José Valdez (Guitar 4).

The concert’s highlight was the UP Orchestra’s performance of the fourth movement of Beethoven’s “Pastorale.”  Under the baton of Prof. Edna Marcil M. Martinez, it was met with a boisterous clap of approval from the audience, among them, Diliman Chancellor Caesar A. Saloma.

The Orchestra’s pièce de résistance was “Syncopated Clock” by Leroy Anderson.

Giving in to the audience’s clamor for an encore, the UP Orchestra performed “Jazz Pizzicato,” also by Leroy Anderson.

Prof. Ma. Patricia Silvestre of the College of Music hosted the event.

Elevasion.  After a year’s absence, the UP Pep Squad’s annual dance concert “Elevate” had a major 2-show comeback on February 27, 3 and 7 p.m. at the University Theater. 


UP Pep’s circus-themed finale displayed in full the group’s dancing capabilities, athleticism and
showmanship, only a handful of the group’s qualities that made them the team to beat.

“Elevasion” comes after UP Pep’s second 3-peat championship of the UAAP Cheer Dance Competition in September 2012, making their win their eighth.  This is yet another venue where the squad’s talents, versatility and palpable group camaraderie will be showcased.

Elevasion paid tribute to the seven other participating universities that make up the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP): Adamson University (AdU), Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), University of the East (UE), Far Eastern University (FEU), National University (NU) and University of Santo Tomas (UST).

The homage was well evident in their dance routines and costume color schemes.

The concert kicked-off with Pep’s “Oble,” their winning 2012 routine and fighting form popularly referred to as “Freedom.”

This was followed by the UP Drummers recognizing the eight different drumbeats associated with the eight UAAP universities.

First in the tribute is a dance routine for the NU Bulldogs.  Dancers in ecru-colored body suits and black masks that partially covered their noses and mouths, moved like a pack of dogs.

This was followed by a hip-hop dance number where the performers came in AdU colors white and blue.

After the upbeat number, came the contemporary ballet piece of “The Bow and the Arrow” for the DLSU’s Green Archers.

The Archers’ number was immediately followed by an equally impressive choreography in honor of the AdMU Blue Eagles, the dancers resplendent with the University colors and the mimicking a flock of eagles in flight.

The crowd favorite was Pep’s tribute to UE.  UP Pep donning red costumes displayed their stunting and tumbling prowess—in allusion to the Red Warriors. Going USTe, Pep highlighted the characters of the enigmatic Tiger—the magnificence of the big cat’s strength, aggressiveness and endearing possessiveness.

UP Pep then traced FEU’s history, from its foundation down to its struggles during the war-torn era and its emergence as the strong, resilient and hardworking Tamarraw.  Finally, Pep showcased UP’s versatility and its multifaceted reservoir of talents via a circus-inspired number replete with pole dancing, acrobatics and jazz numbers.

Segue ways and transitions were cleverly ushered by the three hosts Via Antonio, Jeffrey Garcia and Tonsi Ignacio, especially when it came time to introduce a prepared audio-visual presentation (AVP).  The AVP was a tribute to University Theater artistic director Prof. Ruben D.F. Defeo, who has been UP Pep Squad’s long-time supporter and honorary member.

UPCC@BnD.  Korus ended UP Diliman Month in a high note as they delivered an incredible performance March 1, 7 p.m. at the BnD at the Gonzalez Hall (Main Library) simply titled “UPCC@BnD.”


Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/AlexCastroUSCChair/photos_stream

Subtitled “KoreoKapella: Mga Awiting Pilipino na Pinagsamang Indayog, Simbuyo ng Damdamin at Koreograpiya,” the concert was an interactive a capella of Filipino music blending with passion, groove and choreography and the whole of BnD Main Hall as its stage.

Performing amid Pablo Baen-Santos’s 16-paneled “IR (International Refugees),” as background Korus began with an Invocation through the song “Gabaq-An.”  The song tells of a babaylan’s (priest) prayer to Magbabaya, the god in Bukidnon folklore for safety, strength to withstand destructive forces, and peace for mankind. 

Korus fluidly followed this up with the welcome song of Antique “Kruhay” about the Bornean datus of long ago who arrived and settled in Antique, the Visayan folk song on the joys of being a fisherman, “Pasigin” as arranged by Eudinice Palaruan.  Foregrounding “IR” was Korus’s take on the songs “Tongsong,” “Tuksuhan,” “Bagong Umaga” and “Tongkantakongto.”

Moving to another “stage” this time with the abstract paintings of Thirteen Artists Awards recipients Benjamin Cabangis, Norberto “Lito” Carating and Nestor Olarte Vinluan, the men of Korus sang “Sana Maulit Muli.”  This was followed by the ladies of Korus belting out a medley of the song “Hiram” beneath an art piece across that of the Thirteen Artists’ walls, that of Pete Jimenez’s installation of a roof of a Volkswagen Beetle aptly titled “Raise the Roof.”

Coming from two points across each other, the singers converged at “IR” while singing “Tsismis,” followed by “Tatsulok,” “Nais Ko,” “Tayo’y Magsayawan,” “Kalesa,” “Hibang sa Awit” and a medley of Metropop songs “Salamat Musika,” “Sinong Baliw,” “Pain,” “Till I Met You,” “Umagang Kay Ganda,” and “Magkakapatid.” Korus finished off their repertoire with “Bongga Ka Day,” with the audience visibly pleased as they sang and danced to the tune.

Korus first graced the halls of the University Heritage Museum and made it a known intimate concert venue in 2010, when the group staged their “Pamamaalam” concert series in preparation for their 19th international concert tour.

Exhibitions.  Music and dances were not the only artistic and cultural activities in UP Diliman in February.  Two major exhibits were simultaneously launched on Thursday, February 7, 6 p.m. at BnD were New Acquisitions and Traces of Sadness and Sentimientos Filipinos: A Selection.

New Acquisitions featured the diverse and valuable collection of artwork most recently endowed to the University Art Collection, through the efforts of immediate past Diliman Information Office director and OICA acting director, art history professor Rubén D.F. Defeo.  The new acquisitions include paintings and sculptural pieces by renowned artists, National Artists, alumni and friends of UP.

The new collection manifests both the artists’ generosity and gratitude whose lives have been inextricably linked in one way or another with UP, and whose creativity and passion for art has been matched by their unselfish dedication to the University. In this regard, the collection is both significant and priceless. 

A bust of renowned Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky donated through the initiatives of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Embassy of Russia is part of the new acquisitions.

Meanwhile, Traces of Sadness and Sentimientos Filipinos: A Selection features the work of Mexican poet and painter Tomás Javier Calvillo Unna. 

Traces features paintings and poems by the artist completed during his 3-year stay in the Philippines. 
Calvillo Unna is donating one of his works “Homenaje a Arturo Luz” to the University.

Born in Mexico City, Calvillo Unna is the founder and president of Colegio de San Luis.  He studied International Relations at Colegio de Mexico, obtained Masters in History at Universidad Iberoamericana and completed his PhD in Social Sciences major in History at Universidad de Guadalajara and Centro de Investigacion en Anthropologia Social de Occidente. –Mariamme D. Jadloc