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Speaking of concerts, there was a selection of performances this week in Los Banos. I chose to watch two: the UPLB Filipiniana Dance Troupe’s on Thursday at the Baker Hall, and Prasia’s tonight at the DL Umali Auditorium.

UPLB Filipiniana DanceTroupe. 
Presenting traditional dances in a different way, the Dance Troupe mixed the age-old moves with theatrics. Therefore, it turned out to look like a musical (but instead of singing, the performers danced). The production attempted to summarise Philippine history in dance. It started with babaylans doing rituals, and the (violent) introduction of Christianity into the culture. Of course, the costumes vividly showed how different life became when the colonizers came to the Philippines. The show also emphasised that despite the spread of Catholicism in the lowlands, the tribes in Northern Luzon kept their culture intact. Same went for the sultanates in Mindanao. The two-hour show was not what I expected to be. I was weirded out by the way it was presented, and it took a few minutes after the show for me to understand what I just saw.

In typical Dance Troupe productions (at least when I was still performing with them as a percussionist during my college years), the dances were divided into suites: Northern Philippines, Mindanaoan and Visayan, and Southern Luzon. I usually played for all the suites except for the Southern Luzon suite because the music for that was from the rondalla (and I couldn’t play a string instrument to save my life!). My favourite piece is the Paunjalay, a wedding dance of one of the tribes in Mindanao. I like it because the dance in itself is very challenging to perform, with all that kneeling and running around in circles. Plus, the piece is one of the most difficult to play (I was able to play each of the instruments used for that piece) because there was no fixed count (the musicians had to take the cue from the dancers’ pose) and there’s no warning when it’s ending. I had to learn to play the kulintang without looking at it! The dabakan also has to be hit quite strongly so that the beat can be heard. The agong is beaten extra loudly when the dancers are about to kneel. Practising the piece became second-nature to me that I unconsciously tapped away on my armchair while thinking of answers during exams! I obviously miss those days. (sigh!)

For tonight, I did not know what to expect because I haven’t heard about this group before. All I knew was that it is a choral group composed of missionaries. The concert was organised by Destiny Ministries, Inc. The music was great! The performers sang like the CompanY or the Akafellas. Their voices blended almost effortlessly, and they managed to prevent the show’s beat from slowing down by being hilarious on stage (not typical of choirs that are dead serious, usually). The repertoire consisted of mainstream songs, and some of the group’s original compositions… a very uplifting concert because many of the praise songs were lively.

Anyway, I had a very enjoyable time tonight. Plus, despite arriving alone, I met many friends from college turning up to watch it because many of them are members of the different churches and ministries that supported the concert.

What I really wish for is a repeat performance of the UP Singing Ambassadors which I saw last November during the reopening of the DL Umali Auditorium. That concert was free, and was sponsored by the UPLB Commission for Culture and the Arts. I hope that the choir returns to UPLB after its stint abroad. And I’m willing to pay for a ticket this time.

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