By Grace Villamora
Photo Credit: Alex Cirera

Alamat is a modern zarzuela (musical) that narrates the legend of how the Philippine Islands (7,100 islands) came to being. This zarzuela took the form of a love story comprised of songs and dances inherently identified from the three major islands group: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Folk dances included the La Jota Moncadena, Pandanggo sa Ilaw, Maglalatik, Tinikling, and Tiklos.

A well-choreographed dance (by Emilio Nicolasin) called Pangalay came with dazzling dancers in Southern Mindanao costumes and fluid execution of challenging balance and grace by Jovie Calma, on elevated bamboo sticks. This excerpt will be presented in full at the forthcoming Rizal’s Sweet Stranger, the Musical, in September 2011.

Some of the most beautiful and popular Filipino folk and love songs were featured accompanied by Orlando Cabalona, Sr. on keyboard; Baron Cabalona, keyboard/keyfar; Ron Sevilla, guitars; Lee Maningas, bass guitar; Jose Torres, percussion, and Emilio Nicolasin, kulintang. The narration by Baron Cabalona (Segundo Mano character) was read, adlibbed with wit and aplomb.

The repertoire included: Nung Unang Panahon, Bituing Marikit, Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw, Usahay, Sinisinta Kita, and Isang Mundo, Isang Awit.

After an opening delay due to technical glitches, the program started with a strong delivery of pieces sung by Emilio Nicolasin (Bathala), Alpha Nicolasin (Paraluman), and Jay Espano (Juan Felipe Katigbak), displaying their strong textual rendition and timbre. A well-deserved round of applause was given to Mae Vidal (Luz), Louella Maningas Cabalona (Vicenta), and Jovie Calma (Minda) for their lyrical rendition and intonation of love songs accompanied by dance numbers. After somewhat tentative start, Trina Nicolasin (Neneng) sang beautifully, her top voice displaying a bloom and sustained performance.

Our PACF dancers were naturally graceful, charming and in-steps. The cramped stage, in latitude and in height, constrained fluidity and deft dance movements. The barn (was that a bahay kubo!?) could have been built smaller to give way for much-needed space. Nonetheless, the joy of dancing filled with exuberance came from the youngest to the oldest child participant. Equally energized were the parents, grandparents and friends, who came for their Saturday afternoon treat.

This production was held on July 16, 2011 at the Instituto Cervantes, in cooperation with the Consulate General of the Philippines, Circa/Pintig, Hataw Pinoy Chicago, the Philippine American Cultural Foundation, and the SamaSama Project.

The program was light-hearted and informal. It had a drawing power to build communities and engage an audience nostalgic for Filipino arts, music and culture.

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