New assignment- find the original location of the first UP Conservatory of Music in Quiapo! Original location with most street names already altered….Quiapo? For someone who doesn’t live in Manila, the thought of Quiapo might be a little scary. We’ve heard various stories from there and how unsafe it was. But Quiapo holds a beautiful history and once was a home of the most beautiful and fashionable street in 19th-century Manila. Have you seen the baroque Quiapo church? Isn’t that an evidence enough? Growing up in the streets of Sta. Mesa and college days in Quezon City, I’m kind of well-versed around the metro. But for some reasons, besides Tondo, Quiapo is something I’ve left untouched. Other than that time when I went there with my team for the Muslim costumes, I haven’t ever gone around Quiapo, yet.
Few days before the assignment, I encountered an article that says something like, “Hidalgo was the most beautiful street in its time.” I then assumed it could be what I’m looking for. I got two different tips: one was to check on the books in the library, while the other one says scan through the internet instead. I’m sure I’ve encountered an old picture of the college, I need to check in the library, though. Unfortunately, for some reasons, the library is inaccessible. Internet seems the easiest, but unfortunately it can’t show any picture of the old conservatory. I’m only sure of one thing, it’s in Hidalgo between Sebastian church and Quiapo church. Nevertheless, I embarked on my first try, armed only with my basic phone, notebook, sun gear and the ever reliable Google map.
It was a Sunday afternoon. You’ll hear the Mosque’s prayers around while the Roman Catholics filled the Quiapo church.The streets are not busy as it is on a regular day. It wasn’t long before I found Hidalgo street, but it was hard to find an approachable old person who I can ask neither find two people who’ll give me the same answer.
Hidalgo has worn old through the ages. There is chaos and camaraderie at the start of the street, crowded by vendors. Litters of papers and plastics are everywhere. Most, if not all, of the old buildings were left dilapidated, totally uncared for. One of them is the rundown Spanish neoclassical Zamora building which originally belong to a doctor, but now has become a home to informal settlers while two other similar-looking buildings have become dormitories or dumitories. There are too many filth around, I had a hard time ‘observing.’ I’ve been too preoccupied making sure I don’t step on ‘something’ on the streets.
A little walk further in the middle of the road, you’ll find schools standing in place of old buildings. The biggest of them is Manuel L. Quezon University who bought most the lots together with San Jose builders.
The oldest building I found is the small two-floor convent by the middle of the street. A clinic stands in front of it. It used to be the home of the Mother Superior of the Parish of the Holy Face of Jesus. The people claim it to have stood as early as the 1800s. One old man claimed it to have stood from 1811. It was there long before the parish was built. The building’s second floor was made of wood, and the first floor was all in bricks, an old typical Spanish architecture.The bars and the details are still good. Unfortunately, it burned on June 30 last year. No one can tell me how it burned, though. People say it will eventually put down anytime soon.
It was pretty challenging to be finding an old building without strong references, but I strongly feel that the pink men’s dormitory across MLQU was the old conservatory I’m looking for. I found it in a sad state. Though the parts are still intact, you’ll see evidences that it was taken for granted.
I need a proof that it was the house I’m looking for. I visited a Nakpil museum who stands right off Hidalgo at N. Bautista street. Pictures of old buildings who used to stand in Hidalgo are found on the wall. There’s a photo of the first University of the Philippines Fine Arts building who looks closely similar to that pink men’s dormitory. I asked the lady in charge to clarify my findings, but she claims that the first music conservatory was bought by an Architect Acuzar who brought the builing to Bataan together with other members of his heritage building collection.
I was startled. What if I have to go to Bataan to check it out? The idea, however, sounded like a good thing for I can take advantage of the chance to be able the famous Las Casa Filipinas de Acuzar, a home to heritage buildings bought by the architect. That’s not practical, though. The next day, I checked on the library instead. To my gratitude, I found an old picture of the conservatory in the reserved archives. Why didn’t I make it sure to check on it in the first place? It would have only taken me less than 15 minutes to find the old building if I checked the archives first. The pink men’s dormitory was the conservatory I’m looking for, and the one brought in Bataan was the old Fine Arts building.
The first building of UP’s Conservatory of Music was originally the house of Francisco Santiago, remembered as the Father of Kundiman. I’m glad to have found it still standing where it was. The windows are windows and other details are still intact, but it was unfortunate to have seen it in its worn-out state. I wished to have seen how it was inside. Apparently, it wouldn’t be safe for me to go in alone.
Observing it from the outside, I can imagine how musical it used to be. The building is filled of beautiful memories who used to be a place where great musicians are trained. Historical buildings like this music conservatory behold stories from our past. They not only hold memories, but also connect us to old times we’ll never see physically. History will always be part of us, it should not be taken for granted. We’ve come better today through the lessons learned from the old. These buildings not only represent our history or heritage, but also bring us back to lessons from the past. If only the owners would realize how glorious these have been in the old days, they would have taken care of it.
Like the elders we have in our society, historical treasures like these architecture in Hidalgo street should be respected and maintained.
TUGMA family, ‘Tambay’ friends and batchmates gathered last night for a small get-together before our Tatay or Mamu, Jason Santiago flies today to Seoul! As a recipient of a S. Korean scholarship, he’ll be spending a whole semester there to study Pansori. A semester means about six months aways from us, it’s not very long but it’ll be a long while. Mamu has done many good things for our group UP-TUGMA, and with his gayish humor and practical ideas, everyone will surely miss him. It wasn’t always been very smooth between us, but throughout the years I’ve known him, he was a good friend and confidante. I’d even secretly ask him to teach me rhythm patterns to catch up with my lessons. It’ll definitely be an unusual feeling not to have him around for a while. I’ll miss my tutor Mamu and his famous, “Bakla ka!” that instantly wakes me back to my senses whenever I need a tug. But of course I’m very happy for him, and he’ll surely do great. The truth is, even if we’ll miss him, we’re just even more anxious on what it’ll be like when he comes back. Lol
See you after a while, dear Mamu. As for me, I’ll concentrate myself on putting together my kulintang repertoire and establishing good playing techniques. When you get back, let’s have a ‘jamming session’.
Today was a really long day for all of us. We woke up early this morning to travel a long way to get to Kampheang Phet from Nakhon Sawan. After the big lunch-welcome-party (yep, part-eeeee!) we had in the university, we went to the hotel to quickly unpack our stuffs and prepare for the parade in the afternoon. Just a little time for knick-knacks, and we’re off.
Our most anticipated first Mindanao performance will follow after. Wooohooo! I’m already getting nervous and nervous and nervous. I’ll now be performing that hard-sweat Pangalay dance with my ladies, and I’m pressuring myself to be able to perform it in perfect shape as they’ve taught me. You know, I should be able to give it more dignity not the other way around. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever done it well and good enough in any rehearsal. I was always their apple of the eye, ’cause I’m not getting anything perfectly. Not to mention that I haven’t danced since Grade 2, but it’s a big challenge to learn one of my country’s renowned traditional dances. In short, I don’t think I’m ever prepared for this.
Moving on. The whole delegates arrived for the parade all clad in their costumes. Along the international teams, there are also several groups coming from Kampheang Phet. There were groups of little girls to highschool to college students.
We waited for quite a long time before our line started to parade around. The delegates went with their own noise makers. The Taiwanese plays all their traditional instruments, while the Malaysians patiently carried their gongs lined on the stands hanging on their shoulders while their ladies play their very catchy traditional ‘welcome tune’. The Azerbaijans are with their drums, while the Indonesian high school girls goes with their Angklungs. The Philippines didn’t have any noise makers with them on the parade. We’re not set to use those freakin’ heavy Cordi gongs in the performance tonight, and we didn’t have bamboo sticks to hold them for us the whole time so we haven’t had the idea of bringing them along in the first place. Too late did we realize about the noise maker thing. What we did instead was cheer out our own University of the Philippines’ chant, and occasionally, sing along the Malaysian’s welcome tune. Regardless of what we lack, we’re still having a good time.
At the end of the parade, each delegate team was presented to the congregation (with their VIPs in front sitting cozily in sofas). It was a long opening ceremony- very, very long. Our lines are already getting distorted, because we’ve been standing there for almost an hour (not to forget the long time we had on the parade). My legs are almost aching with Pangalay in mind. Ugh! While our team is getting busy taking selfies/groufies, I noticed that the other groups standing still by their lines- the Kazakhstans, Taiwanese, etc. We’ll then be reminded to get back again on line. As the ceremony goes on, some of my teammates began talking with other teams na talaga, making friends. It was such a long ceremony, it’s so typical of us to be talking to people next in line. And which team goes next with us? Malaysia! The bond goes on.
We’re getting busy mingling and picture taking, we forgot about the ceremony until we’re all surprised with their big set of fireworks. It was so grand. All of us stopped and watched and was all stunned. The fireworks was beautiful.
As our performance gets nearer, my team’s getting more anxious. We’ve all worked so hard for this with all those costumes and props. We’re all praying to be able to give our best. This is it! The moment finally arrives. Go UP! Raaak!
On my perspective, I think that our tonight’s performance went well. We had problems with the stage. Its setup doesn’t suit enough heavy movements like ours, but our boys defied it. Even with big helmets on, they still dance out really good. There was a little flaw on Jay-R’s end note, but he concealed it well. Hannah was doing awesome with her Babandir. She’s mastered the sequences well. Everyone and everything worked together that our boys got enough time to change their clothes. And with the Pangalay? I’m happy on how it turned out. I’m always frantic about the transition between the second section to the last part. It’s like, I never get it right. So I have to figure out how I’ll know at what exact point or count will Anna flip her hands up, which cues for our transition and Marla and I would have to slide to the back line. But this time, I think I’ve done it perfectly in time. Yipee-yipee-yey! Hahaha. Yes, I still made mistakes like on the last time that we’ll move our one foot over the other. I went a split-second late for that, and one of my hands aren’t always pointing on top until I would get conscious that’s its not in its perfect form. Then there’s one very obvious wrong position of my hands on (my favorite pa naman) our finale moves. But at least, its not as big as obviously getting late for the transition. Haha. Our choreography adviser says we need to work for more. But on this night, I’ll pat myself- just for a little. Haha (To God Be the Glory!)
Generally, it wasn’t that perfect. But it was certainly a good job from all of us. We didn’t feel a great response from the crowd, probably because the distance from the stage was so great a far from the audience. Furthermore, it was an open space, we could hardly hear our music at the background. Likewise, they hardly hear each other, too. So it was like performing with blindfolds for us. But our adviser who has been watching with the crowd says that we sounded good enough. The boys may still need to work on their formation, and I need to work on keeping my proper stance consistently. But all in all, it’s been well done. UP-TugMA rak!
ps. More happening this night. We also got to talk with the Taiwanese team. And Chi Yan who has been eating worms that looks like maggots asked us to try it. Ewe!!! Joshua and Jason liked it. It ended in my mouth (I shouldn’t have asked), too, actually. But never chewed down, of course. =P Then Julia, Hannah, and I made Chi Yan sing for us. He was so good with a very high voice, we’re astounded. He sang a Chinese or Taiwanese opera made for women in a way similar to Koreans. It was a thick, head-tone thing. It was very interesting, that they really preserve their own music and that they do practice them in their own theaters. Too bad the camera went down too early, we didn’t get to take pictures of the latter events. The Taiwanese-Filipinos group picture failed tonight. Aww. So sorry about that. But it has been a long day! Ehe. Anyway, more will be coming soon. =)
Second stop for the tour was the big university in the province of Kampheang Phet. The place was so scenic with a beautiful lake in the middle of the campus. Imagine UPD’s Sunken Garden. But instead of the trees and the lagoon, you get the lake and a fountain that dances with colors at night in the middle of the lake. Sidewalk benches, birds and trees all around- how lovely! But there’s more. When we get to the building where we’ll have our lunch, we’re all stunned with their grand welcome, with the students in line greeting us, smiling staffs (serving us with their iconic red juice that I know the name. sorry.), a brass band (yes! a brass band!!!) and all. How couldn’t you feel so special? Even the lunch was stupendous complete with deserts-it was a feast! I just loved the tofu, and the mushroom, and that spicy fish- everything! Superb!
Plus, their music band was swooning us the whole time.
The band was playing great, but I noticed that they’re only playing Thai music even with contemporary elements. I don’t remember that they played popular music from the West. Moreover, most of the instruments that they use are traditional. How cool is that? So much for their loyalty to their own cultural character.
By the time we’re through eating lunch, the LOs from the university invited everyone to dance with the music. I think, it would be safe to say, that team Philippines were the first ones up there inviting other teams as well that eventually formed the whole party scene. Should that be a compliment? Haha.
But it turned out to be so huge and fun… Even the quiet and graceful Taiwanese girls were doing their moves. Until everyone moved into a choo-choo-train forming into a circle, anyone who wants to do their moves can show them off in the middle. Yes, of course, our very own Mackoy and Honey from the UP Dance Company amazed the crowd. (Yey!) There was a little moment of dead air when people were waiting who would want to go next, but in a flash, everyone’s back into the ‘crazy’ este party scene.
It was a big moment for all of us. I guess, it was really the first time that the whole delegates team from all the participating countries get connected with each other. It helped break the “shyness and language barrier” between us. Everyone was just having fun.
So much for that little lunch time. It would be hard for us to forget that. I love Kampheang Phet! =D
Hello, there. A couple years ago, I opened a space here in lieu of my Music Literature class. Now, I’m re-opening a space dedicated specially on my studies in Asian Music. This blog won’t solely feature Asian Music alone. There may be other reflections, too, about any music, performances, music instruments, culture and traditions, etc. from different continents that I might encounter along. But why start something like this? I’ve always been in the city, grew up from a church with an American pastor, and I’ve been trained to play the piano since 5 years old. All my life, the only music I know is that of the Westerners. I can identify oriental or Asian music, and I know that my country has its own music. I’ve heard bits of them from Philippine music, to Vietnam, to Thai, to Indonesian and so on. But I was never really educated enough about our own ‘system’ of music or the different ways on how Southeast Asian people play their music.
I finished an associated degree in Music Ministry in another college, I then studied to take further studies in Music in the Unibersidad de Filipinas. I tried to get into Music Education twice but to no prevail. On my second time to take the admission test to the university’s College of Music, my brother booked me also to audition for the Musicology Department, too. Their diploma program focuses on Asian Music, which prioritizes Kulintangan (Philippine music from the South), Kalingga (music from the Cordilleras), Banduria, Koto (a Japanese stringed instrument), Indonesian Gamelan, and Chinese instruments.
Basically, the Asian Music program focuses on music from around Asia which means lesser contact with the Western music. And as you can see, the East and West are totally different worlds. It’s not just difference in instruments, but also in the rhythm, form, music notation, how they create their music, what they create their music for, etc. When I entered the college, I didn’t know what to expect. I only got two things with me- my passion for travel and for learning new things, and love [& respect] for the arts. Moreover, I never thought of being naturally talented. Even if I can play some instruments and understand music just enough, I still don’t consider myself as a musician of whatever kind. It was miraculous that I got through with my first degree and I was even more amazed when people would compliment me after I play piano. But performing just for entertainment isn’t my thing at all. Okay, sorry that I lied to Sir Verne by telling him that I would want to be a performer. I know- the spotlight, the big applause, the fame- it was glamorous and attractive, but I think, I already had my fair share. It was a great feeling up there- performing and popularity- but to me, there’s more beyond that. Besides, I enjoy research and backstage, working in the production and technical system. My music is more of a ‘self-expression,’ even more a medium of communication.
To enter the Unibersidad de Filipinas is a whole new experience- the training is intense and the expectations are high. Every student has their own knack to make it big. Everyone’s talented like they just get those drum beats so quickly; they’re highly passionate and ‘competitive’. Students are more trained for the world. The college is like a big diverse world in one small space and it’s really a challenge in it. My program- Asian music- is a whole new sound and a whole new system. It took me a lot to get by. I didn’t get along fast with it. Rather, it seems to have been very difficult for me to get along with it. Definitely, a big personal challenge.
A lot of things were going in my head through my first years in the college. There are matters of religions, personal beliefs and standards… and as you know, there are many, many religions in Asia with which its music is highly associated. Asia has always been labeled as pagan for having too many gods and weird rituals. Personally, I wouldn’t want to do anything with paganism, so I’m really avoiding that in whatever forms. To have a secular profession that contrasts my personal beliefs is a no-no. It is non-sense to live with two different lives. Furthermore, there are also other issues going on around me like family responsibilities, not to mention ‘loved ones’ putting on pressure and being critical. Its been a whirlwind of issues, emotions, ideals and I’ve been quite exhausted that its one reason that made me leave school for a while. But now I’m back, and I’m back to finish what I’ve started more devotedly. Because now, I know what I want and what I’m doing. This blog will be dedicated to talk about my journey in my college program. It will contain personal researches and studies like any technique I may come up and develop to aid me as I learn and practice Asian music instruments, watnot, and probably, history and events that I have attended, immersion trips or just out-of-town trips that I may reflect with my program. It could also speak of my personal reflections as I spend time and work my way through this field. It has been a personal struggle for me, and there may be other else. I hope that through this, I may figure something out for others with the same ordeals. Who knows?.. Why just now? Well, its only that I felt the urge, and only now that I got a good internet connection. c;
Enjoy. Have a great day!