The Cultural Center of the Philippines’ (CCP) Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo was filled with orchestral music, then applause and cheers as the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) performed in a tribute concert to the late Senator Edgardo Angara on October 17.
Presented by the CCP and the PPO Society, Inc. (PPOSI) in cooperation with UP, the invitational event celebrated the life and work of the former Senate and UP president, particularly his affinity for and contributions to Philippine arts and culture.
In the opening program, CCP President Arsenio Lizaso described Angara as “a champion who believed that every Filipino deserves to experience the arts.”
Angara served four terms as senator, during which he authored and supported legislation that created the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and the National Living Treasures Award, as well as established the Book Publishing Industry Act, National Museum Act of 1998, National Book Development Trust Fund, and the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009. At the end of his last senate term in 2013, Angara was awarded the Dangal ng Haraya by the NCCA in recognition of the impact and value of his work on the culture and arts of the country.
Even before his entry into the Philippine Senate, when he was still UP president, Angara formed the PPOSI to help CCP’s resident orchestra. It took care of the procurement and upkeep of instruments, and provided new uniforms annually for the members.
According to PPOSI President Zenaida Tantoco, Angara set up gratuity funds for retiring orchestra members. Just six months before his untimely passing, he gave study grants to two PPO members. One was to attend a master class in the United States and the other, to pursue a PhD in Music at UP Diliman.
Two glass sculptures were presented to the Angara family during the opening program. The first was “Eternal Flame” by Ramon Orlina, who was inspired by Angara’s unstinting support for the arts. Impy Pilapil created the other sculpture, an interpretation of the natural world’s dynamism and mystery.
In his response on behalf of the Angara family, Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara expressed gratitude for the tribute. He revealed that his father’s support of Filipino arts and culture stemmed from his conviction that these were necessary to “building a sense of unity across our nation.”
The PPO performed Hector Berlioz’s overture, “Le Corsaire,” and the “1812 Overture” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, under the baton of Maestro Yoshikazu Fukumura, its music director and principal conductor. For “Concerto in F” by George Gershwin, they were joined by renowned pianist Raul Sunico.
The night ended with National Artist for Music and UP University Professor Emeritus Ramon Santos conducting the PPO, soprano Stefanie Quintin, tenor Conrado Calnea Ong III, the UP Concert Chorus, UP Cherubim and Seraphim, and the UP Singing Ambassadors in a special performance of “Awit ng Pagdiriwang” (Song of Celebration). The music and lyrics of the piece were composed by Santos, who was then UP Diliman College of Music dean, for Angara’s investiture as the 15th UP president in 1982. (Arlyn VCD Palisoc Romualdo, UP MPRO)