(FEB. 13)— Neither wind, nor rain deterred the hundreds of people who braved the bad weather on the evening of Feb. 7 as UP Diliman (UPD) celebrated the 50th year of the First Quarter Storm (FQS) with a grand public concert entitled “Konsyerto ng Bayan sa ika-50 Taon.”
The First Quarter Storm was a period of civil unrest during the first quarter of 1970 involving protest actions against the abuses of during former president Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship.
The historic Palma Hall AS steps served as the main stage while the portion of the Academic Oval in front of Palma Hall was closed off to make room for the large orchestra and chorus composed of the UP Symphony Orchestra, the UP Singing Ambassadors, UP Cherubim and Seraphim, UP Staff Chorale, and AUIT Vocal Chamber Ensemble.
The concert was written by Bonifacio Parabuac Ilagan—a multi-awarded screenwriter, filmmaker, playwright, writer and editor, directed by Chris Millado, Vice-President and Artistic Director at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) with music directed by Professor Josefino Chino Toledo of the College of Music.
For the next three hours the audience was treated to an audio-visual feast celebrating and recounting the events that led to that turbulent period, injecting it with allusions to similar developments happening in the current Duterte administration.
The concert featured artists such as Stefanie Quentin, Malvin Macasaet, Michelle Mariposa, Greg de Leon, Rody Vera, Musikang Bayan, Upeng Galang Fernandez, Dodgie Fernandez, Becky Demetillo, Lester Demetillo, Joel Lamangan, Monique Wilson, UP Dance Company, Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts Students, Panday Sining Alay Sining and the UP Repertory Company.
By the first hour of the concert, the light rain had turned moderate, potentially endangering equipment and performers, but the show went on along and the audience stayed to the end of the three-hour event.
Addressing the crowd, Chancellor Michael Tan encouraged the performers and educators present to find more ways to keep fresh the memories and lessons of the FQS.
“…marami pang kailangang gawin upang gawing mas buhay ang mga alaalang iyon. Mainam sana na makahanap tayo ng paraan sa pamamagitan ng teatro at musika. Ngayong gabi, salamat sa maraming cultural groups ng UPD, binuhay nating muli ang mga alaalang yun upang makapagsimulang ikwento muli hindi lamang ang tungkol sa FQS, kundi ang buong kasaysayan ng pakikibaka ng Pilipino,” he said.
The event was also the first time that “The Gathering Storm,” an art installation by Toym Imao was unveiled. Inspired by the barricades set up in the UP Campus during the Diliman Commune in 1971, the installation consisted of classroom chairs arranged in the shape of a dark, bloody cloud above the Palma Hall entrance.
The “barricades” of chairs, tables, and wooden poles are arranged and suspended to form a hovering storm cloud above the Palma Hall steps—the site of many mobilization rallies in the 1970s.
“The cloud formation acts as a visual metaphor for the brewing ferment and buildup of dissent against the dictatorship. It is a visual homage to the impending Diliman Commune a year after the FQS, thus, the ‘gathering storm,’” Imao said.
Produced by the Office of the UP President and the Office of the Chancellor through the Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts and the CCP’s Surian ng Sining.
“Konsyerto ng Bayan sa ika-50 Taon” is the opening salvo of the UP Diliman Arts and Culture Festival 2020: Makita kang Sakdal Laya, a four-month series of events that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the FQS.—Anna Regidor, photos by Jefferson Villacruz