Kite in the rain

Conrado De Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer

4Sep2002 There’s the Rub

Lifted from the column

Elsewhere, “folk” too is the word that sprang to my mind while listening to Gary Granada’s newest album, “Saranggola Sa Ulan”. Where “Huwag Mangamba” is path-breaking in that it redefines the meaning of folk, showing us that it resides as well, if not most of all, in this country’s faith, “Saranggola” is path-breaking in that it gives us the true face of folk, one that has always been as fuzzy as figures in the rain.

“Folk” has somehow always meant American folk music, or its local variant, such as “Anak”. Which presumably has to be distinguished from “baduy” or archaic pop music, as the songs of Ric Manrique and Ruben Tagalog, from local “karaoke” music, such as “Matud Nila”, and indeed from “Philippine folk songs”, such as those danced by the Bayanihan or what we learned from grade school. Granada shows those divisions are completely artificial. Through the magic of wit, charm, playfulness, plaintiveness, lyricism and plain awesome talent, he breaks down the barriers and fuses these elements together.

His best song is easily, “Saranggola sa Ulan”, which is the source of the album’s title. It is a bittersweet elegy-celebration that I am certain will go on to become one of this country’s most enduring classics- I told Gary as much the first time I heard him sing it. It will also probably go on to bequeath to us a new phrase for daring to dream the impossible. The persona in the song believes nothing is impossible, not love between unlikely lovers, not bridging the social divide, not flying a kite in the rain. It’s an inspired phrase, “saranggola sa ulan” (kite in the rain).

From there, Gary goes on to sing “Saan Ka Man Naroroon”, the Visayan song, “Usahay”, the Ilocano song “O Naraniag A Bulan”, and “Mga Kanta ni Gorio”, the last being Filipino folk songs given new more biting lyrics (by Jess Santiago). And of course Gary’s other compositions, which partake in different measure of his gentle wit and wisdom. This is his best album yet, which is saying a lot given that he has made more than a couple of dozen of them in a prolific career. And he ain’t through yet, he’s just peaking..


Pantomina in a Wedding celebration

At last an authentic unchoreographed Pantomina! Pantomina in situ. This one is an amateur video of my nephew during his friend’s wedding in Bulan, Sorsogon.

The Pantomina dance as part of a wedding celebration is similarly done also in Bulusan and other towns of Sorsogon. Hence, this post.

Although Pantomina dance is an all-happy-occassion number, I particularly love this dance to be specifically performed in weddings. It has all the elements of a celebratory dance. The Pantomina music’s joyful rhythm and the lively and lovely steps and movements of the Pantomina dance especially the ‘paso’ part are celebrations in itself.

The dance is also a fun way for the couple to have an instant seed money to begin their lives together since the money is considered as a community gift for the couple pooled together from ninangs, ninongs , family, relatives, visitors and well wishers. The money given to the couple are not only confined to paper bills of high denominations. Coins also are accepted — this is the reason why the couple is dancing in a native mat i.e. banig. The banig is there to catch the coins thrown to them by well wishers.

As the groom and bride dance to the music of the Pantomina that goes on and on, families, relatives  and wedding sponsors from both sides will have their money at hand tested by upping each other in the pinning of the money bills in a sort of contest. The larger the amount the better. All is done however in the spirit of fun. At the end of the dance,  the couple will have a basket full of money in denominations ranging from 1 peso coin to 1,000-peso bill. The groom will in turn offer (for safekeeping ) the pooled gift money to the bride as part of  the celebrations.

The money however is not the main purpose of the dance. Fun is.

Video from You Tube

The Circle Game

Be warned. This song  The Circle Game  can make you cry. Just made me cry right now.

The lovely melody and the poignant lyrics however  make this song the  perfect lullaby for an old soul like me.

Interestingly, Neil Young inspired the song according to this article —

Video from YouTube

Joey Ayala and Lupang Hinirang

Try listening to the ballad-like tempo of Joey Ayala’s rendering of Lupang Hinirang  (National Anthem of the Philippines) while images of the super typhoon aftermath run in your head. Moist eyes. Who will not be?

May God multiply the strength of the survivors especially the families tried by the category 6 tropical cyclone.

Take note that Bulusan was in the peripheral track of Yolanda (Haiyan) when it struck the provinces of Leyte and Samar. The province of Sorsogon is 224 kilometers from Tacloban City. Geographically separated only by San Bernardino Strait from the Samar islands.

Our province was fortunate to be spared this time. Fear however will forever be etched in our minds with the proximity of the radius of the swirling ferocious mass that was Yolanda. It was a close call for those living near the coasts of Bulusan and neighboring towns. The changing climate however gave us no choice but to prepare for the more than twenty (20) typhoons that visit the Philippines annually. Yolanda was the 24th this year. The strongest so far.

The speech of the Philippines’ representative to the United Nation’s talk on climate change makes sense in the light of this recent disaster. I hope those powerful nations heed his call:

As to Joey Ayala’s rendition of the National Anthem? “You’ll never sing the National Anthem the same way again.”  I am singing it now. His way.

Video from YouTube

Pantomina and Bulusanons

“Once the pantomina music starts playing the urge to dance is so heightened  for those present in the barayle (public dance event) especially those of the older set. They could not contain themselves on their seat (diri mapa-udong sa ingkodan),” so said Amador, the gregarious and talkative carpenter currently working in our house. This must be true.  In fact I counted the pantomina music airing in the public sound system to be the most played number on any given occasion in Bulusan.

The music is a Bicol traditional folk music often played in merrymaking events from weddings  to fiestas to coronation of a local beauty queen  and even to welcome a newly elected mayor or just a simple village barayle. But it is only in Bulusan that I have observed closely the magic of this irresistible music to coax Bulusanon’s oldies and not so old to dance and sway with this Bicolandia’s iconic dance, the Pantomina. Its origin as a courtship dance is very much evident in the movements of the dancers where one is permitted to improvise. The effect is a pantomime where the male dancer pleases his partner in the  form of spontaneous body-language-dance/gestures  of courtship from kneeling to flirty hovering around his demure and coy yet flirtatious (preferred dance gestures for the female during the pantomina) dance partner.  Together the dancing pair appears to be imitating a pair of doves in a  ritual dance of courtship.

This video (above) taken during the Kasanggayahan festivities in Sorsogon was a choreographed Pantomina performed by public school teachers representing the Municipality of Bulusan. Although choreographed for the event, the performance nevertheless will give a hint on why the music/dance is such a twin hit i.e. music and dance in one in Bulusan. In my view,  no music captures perfectly the joyful rhythm of the locals other than the  Pantomina.

Video from YouTube (Kasanggayahan Festival, Sorsogon City, 2011)

Reminiscing Elton John’s ‘Your Song’

Throwback late 80’s, my sister and a friend caught me watching rather listening intently to Elton John’s music video with the TV monitor covered. I did not offer any explanation on my actions since I was so carried away with the beautiful melody. The friend curiously uncovered the TV monitor by removing the bond paper  taped on it and lo and behold – Elton John was wearing a Donald Duck costume 🙂

Of course, I did not mind the outlandish attire. I just wanted to savor the music without distractions. The music was irresistibly beautiful. No wonder why Filipinos love his songs so much.

Your Song

It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside
I’m not one of those who can easily hide
I don’t have much money, but boy if I did
I’d buy a big house where we both could live

If I was a sculptor, but then again, no
Or a man who makes potions in a traveling show
I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I can do
My gift is my song, and this one’s for you

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world

I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss
Well, a few of the verses, well, they’ve got me quite cross
But the sun’s been quite kind while I wrote this song
It’s for people like you that keep it turned on

So excuse me forgetting, but these things I do
You see I’ve forgotten if they’re green or they’re blue
Anyway the thing is what I really mean
Yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world

I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world


Video from YouTube
Interesting read

Chickoy Pura’s ‘homecoming’ concert

Chickoy Pura's 'homecoming' concert

Speaking in the dialect with perfect inflection as if he had never left town at all, Chickoy Pura was in his element in theBulusan gig July 23, 2013 he dubbed as ‘sugad sin homecoming concert’ ( like a homecoming concert). “Pirmi man ako nag-uuli, pero niyan lang ako nag-uli na an tuyo iba man – matugtog.” (Several times I visited our hometown, but this is the first time that my visit has a different purpose – to do this concert).

Obviously in a talking mood Chickoy even reminisced his basketball days, ‘san panahon mi’ (during our time) with the competing barangays in the poblacion…but he reminded himself to shorten his ‘talk’ and start the music rolling. He started with ‘Tambol’ that he likened to the local town crier in his village in Buhang that surprisingly he can still remember the name – Inoy Doro Gabrentina, the ‘parabayabay’ (town crier in the dialect). With this endearing  intro the music started with great energy that lasted the whole night.

My verdict: Chickoy Pura’s music is timeless. His music and performance still carry the intensity of his own brand of Pinoy rock wonder. He is  indeed a Bulusan pride.  As a veteran of rock concert events – I am confident in saying that Chickoy is in the league of Pinoy rock greats.  And an added bonus: Chickoy Pura still looks great on stage after all these years!

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Photos : Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Pink Floyd and Shakespeare

“Sonnet 18”

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

~ William Shakespeare

via Open Culture:

Video from You Tube