A symphony of gratitude

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
A symphony of gratitude
National Artist for Music Dr. Ramon Santos conducts the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) in a performance of his composition Awit ng Pagdiriwang, a tribute to the late Senate President Edgardo Angara. They are joined by soprano Stephanie Quintin, tenor Dondi Ong, the UP Singing Ambassadors, UP Concert Chorus and UP Cherubim and Seraphim.

Last week, virtually all the pillars, the joists and the trusses of the arts and cultural community were at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) for a monument in music to a man who gave as much of himself to the promotion of the arts as he did to politics.

A lawyer, academician, politician, public servant and banker, Edgardo Javier Angara didn’t just collect art — he worked hard to encourage it, make it accessible and make it work for the people. Way back in 1985, Angara was already one of the incorporators of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Society Inc. (PPOSI), whose main purpose was to support the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) under the CCP.

An Impy Pilapil sculpture is presented to Mrs. Gloria Angara and Sen. Sonny Angara as a gift from the PPOSI.

“My life’s work in the preservation of our heritage and the promotion of Filipino culture and arts is perhaps about anchoring our collective imaginations, our notions of nationhood, on things we can see, touch, or hear such as with pieces of art, songs and stories,” Angara once said.

Thirty-three years after Angara spearheaded its incorporation, the PPOSI, under Nedy Tantoco, with the CCP and the University of the Philippines, mounted an awesome commemorative tribute to the late senator with a concert that included the PPO, the UP Concert Chorus, the UP Cherubims and Seraphims, the UP Singing Ambassadors, National Artist Ramon Santos, Raul Sunico and maestro Yoshikazu Fukumura. The CCP stage could have collapsed with the art and culture heavyweights on it, so to speak.

(From left) Maritess Enriquez, Rus tan Commerci a l Corp. chairman and CEO and Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Society Inc. (PPOSI) president Nedy Tantoco, Sen. Sonny Angara and the author. Photo from Tootsy Angara’s Instagram account

“We are gathered here this evening to pay tribute to a true son of the Philippines who devoted his life to fostering and enhancing the academic, political and cultural life of the country,” Tantoco said. “While the late Senator Angara’s contribution in the academic and political fields of the Philippines has been immense and well recognized, it is his contribution on the cultural stage that we celebrate tonight with this concert.”

“On May 13…he passed away at the age 83. But I firmly believe he’s with us tonight. The care and generosity of Sen. Angara towards the musicians of PPO was manifold. I can recall the PPO musicians who wrote to me asking for help to pursue their musical careers. I would promptly refer them to Senator Angara, who, without any hesitation agreed to offer the needed financial assistance.

Sen. Sonny Angara and wife Tootsy with Rustan Commercial Corp. president Donnie Tantoco.

“They were Amy Dela Cruz who needed funds to pay her tuition to participate in the 2018 Beta Percussion International Institute in the University of Oregon. And Crisanti Macaso who asked for funds to finish his music doctorate at the University of the Philippines,” Tantoco revealed.

For his part, CCP president Nick Lizaso said, “(Angara) believed that the preservation of cultural heritage and the promotion of Filipino culture were crucial in creating and strengthening a sense of nation and social cohesion.”

Ramon Orlina, who designed the ‘Eternal Flame’ that would be placed on Angara’s grave in Baler, with Angara’s son Sonny.

“We at the CCP share the senator’s beliefs. We aim to bring arts closer to every Filipino through our outreach programs. We also aim to develop future artists, educate the people, and promote our appreciation among Filipino people.”

Nedy Tantoco also made special mention of former Antique Gov. Sally Zaldivar Perez who thought of resurrecting a composition by then UP College of Music dean Ramon Santos for Angara’s investiture as UP president in 1981.

Sen. Sonny Angara with GT Capital Holdings co-vice chairman Alfred Ty and wife Cherry.

“The PPO will play this piece tonight under the baton of Ramon Santos himself. This composition (Awit ng Pagdiriwang) has not been performed since it was performed at the UP ceremony 37 years ago.”

That Sally Perez remembered that piece, which Santos said he had all but forgotten and had to unearth in his library, is no surprise.

(From left) Lulu Rodriguez, Joey and Hilda Antonio, Gloria Angara and Pepe Rodriguez.

“Ed and I had known each other since our UP student days, which was more than 60 years ago. There was instant rapport between a shy provinciano from Baler and a madaldal provinciana from Antique. All these years, Ed was both my friend and boss, first in UP and then at the Senate,” Perez recalled.

Indeed, the life of Edgardo J. Angara was celebrated that night with all the beautiful notes strung together by the people whose passions he supported.

Raul Sunico performs George Gershwin’s Concerto in F with the PPO.

He surely was applauding from heaven.

(You may e-mail me at [email protected] Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)




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