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05/06/2009: Concert Performance Simbuyo 2009 Commemorating 111th Anniversary of Philippine Anniversary Draws Raves

05 JUNE 2009 WASHINGTON DC - Simbuyo 2009, a concert performance commemorating the 111th anniversary of Philippine Independence and celebrating Philippine culture and arts, drew raves from a diverse audience of Filipinos, Filipino-Americans and Americans with presentations of traditional and modern Filipino performing arts.

Held at the 500-seater Grand Theater of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Visitors’ Center in Kensington, Maryland, the concert, presented by the Philippine American Foundation for Charities, Inc. and the Embassy of the Philippines, featured volunteer performers from the Greater Metro DC area and Manila.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy Gaa said, “The interplay of excellent live performances and the technical support that provided visual, stage and auditory support gave a complete cultural experience that showed the diversity of our heritage while harnessing the power of technology.”

Ambassador Gaa, who gave the welcome remarks during the performance said, “We felt Filipino musicality, saw Filipino artistry, heard Filipino lyricism,” adding, “the images of historic and modern Philippines showed during the concert underscored how far we have come and how far we will continue to go as a democratic nation.”

The Ateneo Alumni Choir, led by Artistic Director and Conductor Paul Hontiveros, gave stirring renditions of the national anthems of the Philippines- arranged by National Artist Lucio San Pedro - and the United States while animated flags of the Philippines and the United States were projected onscreen.

During the programme, the Ateneo Alumni Choir – in its first public performance – performed “I will Sing Forever” and “Isang Dugo, Isang Lahi, Isang Musika.”  The first song underscored the important role played by faith in everyday Filipino life while the second song stressed the continuing challenge for Filipinos to continue contributing to the greater growth and development of the Philippines.

Northern Virginia Rondalla, headed by Musical Director Timothy Paredes community took the audience on a musical trip to Philippines through the song, “Doon Po Sa Amin” during the beginning of the programme.  Popular folk songs from around the archipelago were performed in the Philippine Suite Air No. 2 towards the end of the concert performance, ending in the playing of “Mabuhay.”

Pianist Genevieve Llames gave a passionate performance of Kundiman ng Luha, while photos of pre-war Manila were projected onscreen.  Later, Ms. Llames delivered an honest and heartfelt rendition of Variations.

Filipino folk dances were given a modern twist by the visiting Effie Nanas Ballet School dancers, who performed Tinikling, Itik-itik, Malong Dance and a specially choreographed dance to the popular Dahil Sa Iyo.  Spontaneous bursts of applause marked the group’s performance.  Ms. Nanas, the school’s founder, was present at the performance.

The well-loved Tinikling was performed energetically by the Pilipino American Cultural Arts Society under the direction of Ms. Belen dela Pena.

Throughout the performance, the logo of Simbuyo 2009, created by Emmy nominee Zaldy Serrano from the Bay Area, was projected onscreen.

Some of the reactions received from email messages following Simbuyo 2009:

From Ana Maria de Jesus of Montgomery College:  “It was such a tremendously uplifting cultural presentation.  We hope that this event will evolve into an annual tradition.  The event was such a treat!.”

From Bing Branigin:  “Through music and dance, guests forgot what it was like outside…  The performers were all superb in performing their task.  The program short and sweet.  It was indeed a great moment to celebrate our beloved Philippines from our adopted country.

From Maurese Owens: I think it was an auspicious beginning for a new program.  May it get bigger and better in years to come.

From Alma Cunanan: “One of the LDS ushers remarked:  "An excellent show!  It makes me want to go to the Philippines!!!"

From Presy Guevarra:  “All comments I heard after the show were of praise and amazement of how the show was so polished.  The audience liked the balance and mix of the numbers.  Those who came even said they wish there were more to have seen the show and they are just looking forward to Simbuyo 2010, that they will tell their friends what a magnificent show they just saw.  You can even see the pride in their faces of being a Filipino.”

From Dr. Manolita Balassa: “ “It was an excellent show and venue… Kudos to the PAFC and everyone planning in this wonderful evening and the hospitality of the Church members.  I enjoyed the show, but the excellent ballet rendition of Philippine songs and folkdances was new to me and very enjoyable.  My husband thanked me for “forcing” him to drive me to the event.  He too enjoyed the evening immensely.” END.

Ambassador Willy C. Gaa welcomes the audience to Simbuyo 2009. Onscreen is the logo for the programme designed by San Francisco-based Emmy nominated graphic artist Zaldy Serrano. Photo taken by Red Alcuaz of the Ateneo Alumni Choir.

Dancers from the Effie Nanas School of Ballet from Manila Philippines in their final pose as audience members applaud their rendition of the popular tinikling. Photo taken by Red Alcuaz of the Ateneo Alumni Choir.

Dancers from the Pilipino American Cultural Arts Society perform the traditional tinikling to the applause of audience members. Photo taken by Red Alcuaz of the Ateneo Alumni Choir.