LARA MAIGUE and Orange and Lemons

PATRIOTISM, romance, and unrequited love are just a few themes of the kundiman — traditional Filipino love songs that have stood the test of time, even times as strange as these. While the country awaits the return of live performances after the COVID-19 lockdowns, the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Office of the President (CCP OP), through its online outreach program Sining Sigla, is focusing on the kundiman in the online musical series Kung Hindi Man, a Collection of Musical Treasures, beginning Sept. 25, 6 p.m., via Facebook.

Directed by Dennis Marasigan, each episode of Kung Hindi Man (If it Were Not So) will run for 20 minutes and feature works by Filipino composers performed by today’s classical and OPM artists.

Tayong mga Pilipino ay hindi lamang mahilig sa musika; likas sa atin yung pagmamahal. At’yung bawat isa sa atin na nagmamahal ay siguaradong may paboritong awitin (Filipinos not only love music; love is also inherent among us. Each of us who love surely has a favorite song),” Mr. Marasigan said in an online press conference on Sept. 15.

Marami sa awit ng pag-ibig o pagsinta, maging mga awit na may hugot gaya ng mga awit ng pangungulila, at pagpupugay sa ating Inang Bayan ay naging paksa na ng kundiman. At maging ng mga makabagong awitin ay pinag-ugatan ng kundiman (Many songs of love or courtship, whether they be dramatic songs of love lost, or giving honor to our Motherland, have been topics of the kundiman. Even contemporary songs are rooted in the kundiman),” he added.

“We will not only feature our celebrated kundiman songs but also contemporary Filipino ballads which share and display similar themes (of love, patriotism, endearment) regardless of its form of composition,” said Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) director and Kung Hindi Man music consultant Eugene delos Santos.

Among the singers and actors performing in the musical series are Arthur Espiritu, Cesar Montano, Gian Magdangal, Harry Santos, Lara Maigue, Mariel Ilusorio, Nerissa De Juan, and the OPM band Orange and Lemons (who will be sharing songs from its upcoming kundiman-inspired album), and the PPO.

The episodes will include information on the history of the song and its composers.

“It’s the right time to introduce these kundiman to the newer generations,” CCP President Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso said in a statement. “With the rise of foreign musical acts that have significantly influenced our musical industry, it’s the right time for us to bring back the spotlight to our own music. And with new arrangements of these kundiman songs, I know that they will resonate, not only to the older generations, but will also to the youth of today,” Mr. Lizaso added.

The musical performances were shot at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The first episode will feature National Artists for Music Ernani Cuenco’s “Nahan” and Felipe Padilla de Leon’s “Ako’y Filipino,” as performed by Arthur Espiritu, Mariel Ilusorio, Nerissa De Juan, and Cesar Montano.

The past programs under the CCP’s Sining Sigla program include: Jazz Stay at Home (Jazz Festival); MALA (Movies Adapted from Literary Arts); Sigla ng Pasko, Awit at Tula: Pagbabalik-tanaw sa Unang Hari ng Balagtasan; PINTIG – A Percussion Festival; and PERFECT 10: The Philbanda 10th Anniversary Concert.

Kung Hindi Man, A Collection of Musical Treasures premieres on Sept. 25, 6 p.m., on the CCP Office of the President Facebook page ( The succeeding episodes will air on Saturdays until December.   Michelle Anne P. Soliman