Walks, talks and music: FEU’s cultural cornucopia

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THERE will be a Heritage Walk around the UNESCO-awarded campus of Far Eastern University on May 4. — WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/PG/FAREASTERNUNIVERSITY

By Susan Claire Agbayani

LAST WEEK, in a span of three days, the Philippines experienced strong earthquakes that had everyone shaking in fear, from the possibility of another quake or aftershocks. The earthquakes affected all three major island groups of the country.

In their aftermath, government offices, universities and colleges, and private buildings had to be checked for their structural integrity.

It is during these times that older structures like centuries-old churches seem most vulnerable. But how highly do we regard or esteem our heritage structures? How much time, money, and effort do we expend to help preserve them? And how may we help preserve them for future generations?

To answer theses questions, the Heritage Conservation Society (HCS) will hold two talks at the Far Eastern University (FEU) on Morayta, Sampaloc, Manila, on Saturday, May 4, from 1:30 to 5 p.m.

The organization’s president, Mark Evidente will discuss the Heritage Law via his lecture “The Significant Other: The Heritage Law Beyond Presumptions,” to be followed by a talk on the role of technology in heritage structure and documentation titled “The Relevance of Digital Scanning in Documenting Heritage Structures” by HCS trustee and Digiscript, Inc. President Conrad Alampay.

“With what just happened… days ago, it’s never been more significant and important to understand the value of our heritage and culture,” said Jenn Galvez, the External Committee Head of HCS, during a press conference held at FEU late last week.

The HCS is a nonprofit, non-stock organization, advocating the protection and preservation of the country’s built heritage, cultural and historical sites and settings, “upholding the Philippine Constitution that heritage and culture should be developed and preserved for national identity,” she said.

“HCS is the prime mover and advocate for the preservation of Philippine built heritage through advocacy and volunteerism.”

Given its limited resources, “The organization is concentrating on policy making and lobbying to have these laws enacted,” Ms. Galvez said.

The director of the President’s Committee on Culture, Martin Lopez will also conduct a heritage tour around the 91-year-old FEU campus, whose buildings are in the Art Deco style.

“We hope that you’d be able to spend the afternoon and evening of May 4 with us. From discussions to Heritage Walk around this UNESCO-awarded campus — to the concert of the FEU Bamboo Band in the newly restored FEU Auditorium, which was at one point THE cultural center of the Philippines,” Mr. Lopez told members of media during the presscon

The auditorium marks its 70th anniversary this year. Designed by National Artist for Architecture Pablo Antonio in 1949, it was the only venue with air-conditioning and a revolving stage in the period just after World War II.

In an unusual turn, the FEU Bamboo band “goes to Broadway” on May 4.

“We usually perform folk songs and OPMs during events here in FEU,” FEU Bamboo Band Norberto Cads said during the press conference. “We selected Broadway songs because musical theater is becoming popular here in the Philippines. We hadn’t done anything like it before, (so) I challenged the players to do it for the concert this year,” Mr. Cads, who has worked with the bamboo ensemble for 10 years, said. He noted that it is “easier to get the license to do international pieces over any Filipino musical theater.

The evening’s repertoire includes classics from famous Broadway musicals like Mamma Mia! and Les Miserables featuring Banaue Miclat-Jannsen and Raymond Gorospe, together with the FEU Bamboo Band. Ms. Miclat-Jannsen is a three-time Aliw awardee who is also the artistic director of Dulaang UP, while FEU alumnus Mr. Gorospe came home with several medals in different categories from the World Championships of Performing Arts in the US in 2015.

“As part of Heritage Month, we are also promoting our third event, the Musica FEUropa, a choral competition and festival in collaboration with the European Union… It’s also EU month,” FEU’s Mr. Lopez said.

The Musica FEUropa Choral Competition will be held on May 25 and 26.

“This festival and competition has grown tremendously in the last 11 years, but when this was created years ago, the question (we asked ourselves) was, how can we reach out to audiences? How can we celebrate the unique cultures and heritage of Europe? And we thought — why not through music — particularly through choral music?” he said.

The grand champion will get P100,000 plus a trophy.

Choirs from Guadalupe, Sampaloc, Quezon City, Bulacan, Pampanga, and as far as Bicol and Cebu are competing.

Choirs will each be required to sing a choral piece in any Philippine language or dialect, and another piece in any official language of Europe.

Among the judges this year are Dr. Arwin Tan, Prof. Rodolfo Delarmente, and Ma. Theresa Vizconde-Roldan, Teen Category; Prof. Lester Delgado, Jude Roldan, and Emmanuel de Leon, Jr., Open Category; and Prof. Fidel Calalang, Jr., Dr. Beverly Shangkuan-Cheng, Dr. Ed Manguiat, Ma. Lourdes Hermo, and Ramon Lijauco, Jr, Grand Champion.

“One of the benefits for the choirs,” said Mr. Lopez, was that the conductors of choirs were ‘getting direct feedback — just like in an immediate master class — from the adjudicators.’

“You also now have choirs from all around the country. And it gives them the preparation in terms of standards in competing in choir festivals in Europe,” Mr. Lopez added.

In the grand finals, the choirs also have to perform a composition by Filipino composer Sander Choi to “convey the universal language to promote unity, peace, and harmony among different choirs.” Mr. Choi’s works have been performed by local and international choirs.

All the choirs will sing the EU Hymn (“Ode to Joy”) at the end of the competition.

Admission to the May 4 events is P400, inclusive of light snacks and a certificate. To register, check out Event Brite, or download the ticket2me app. To know more about HCS, check out, or go to their FB page Heritage Conservation.