The Sounds of Manila Transitio

It was a beautiful night as my Couchsurfing friends and I sat on a makeshift mat made of cardboard boxes at the Plaza Moriones at Fort Santiago, Manila. We were waiting for the Manila Transitio to start, and after a full day of walking and eating, it was nice to just be able to relax like this in the middle of busy Manila. We had food and drinks. The night was pleasantly cool and not a sign of rain anywhere in the horizon.

Manila Transitio 1945 is an annual event organized by Walk This Way tours and Carlos Celdran. It is held every February to commemorate the fall of Manila during the second world war where an estimated 120,000 lives of Filipino civilians were lost in a battle. This year, the crowd was treated with performances by the Mabuhay Singers and Deoro.

The program started with the singing of the Philippine National Anthem. It was the second time that day that I sang it, but this time it was in Spanish. It was a pretty rousing rendition and you couldn’t help but be amazed by it. After a few words of welcome from Carlos, the Mabuhay Singers took the stage.

The Mabuhay Singers
The Mabuhay Singers has been around since 1958 and is one of the pioneers of the kundiman genre. Many people of my generation would not be familiar with it, being more inclined to listen to foreign pop acts. It was great to listen to these singers who have been around far longer than I have been alive.

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Admittedly, the songs were unfamiliar to me (except for two which were “La Vie En Rose” and the Ilocano folk song “Pamulinawen”) but they were a treat to hear. The Mabuhay Singers were also entertaining, as they didn’t just sing but performed. When you listen to the lyrics of the songs, it was really a story, complete with dialogue and acting.

It’s wonderful to have this part of our culture readily available. Hopefully more and more people would take time to listen to it and appreciate it.

Deoro is composed of Dave Eggar (cello), Chuck Palmer (percussion) and Tony Pirozzi (bass). I first heard them perform two years ago when Dave and violinist Coke Bolipata were guests at a Starbucks Dialogue. Dave has been back to the Philippines several times since, and has been a regular guest performer at Casa San Miguel’s Pundaquit Festival. Dave was a child prodigy, a Harvard and Julliard graduate. If you watched the Evanescence concert you probably would have seen him onstage.

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It was a treat to see them play. Can you imagine how some people have to pay a lot to see these guys, but it was nearly free for us? They also had three guest performers (unfortunately, their names escape me for now. I’ll edit this post once I learn their names ^_^) and it was an all out awesome mini-concert. Blues, rock, Beatles, jazz, U2 and Lady Gaga were part of their song line up.

Both the Mabuhay Singers and Dave Eggar will be performing at the Pundaquit Festival Season 19.