THIS was the first concert in Singapore (held last May 22, 2015) participated by Singapore-based musicians, Marsiling Chinese Orchestra, and the invited musicians from the Philippines, Kabataang Silay Rondalla Ensemble.

Ambassador Antonio A. Morales invited the musicians from Silay through the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) to participate in this concert organized in Singapore through the office of Mr. Hawazi Daipi, senior parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Education and Manpower.

Our ambassador publicly announced, “Through the joint performance, we hope to highlight how two groups separated by miles of sea but united by a common passion for music can create a magnificent show that is sure to captivate their audience.”

He also thanked the Marsiling Citizens’ Consultative Committee for a fruitful partnership in strengthening the cultural ties and friendship between the Philippines and Singapore.

Secretary Daipi said the joint concert with Kabataang Silay Rondalla Ensemble highlights our youth’s appreciation in the music and culture of our neighboring country, the Philippines, and attempts to develop friendship and respect towards each other. He believes that the collaboration will make stronger the bilateral relations at the people-to-people level.

The concert is in the Star Theater of the Star Performing Arts Centre. I was told that the theater could accommodate 5,000 viewers. The conductor of Marsiling Chinese Orchestra is Low Cher Yong (also the concert music director) who holds a Licentiate in Conducting Distinction from the London College of Music, Thames Valley University. As a musician, he has performed in London, Hungary, China, Taiwan, Macau, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

The conductor of Kabataang Silay Rondalla Ensemble is Jegger Anjao. He started as a Rondalla member at West Negros College (now a University). He has the passion, dedication, experience and innate talent that made him Rondalla master for Silay Rondalla. He is respected in the Rondalla circle in the Philippines, and he was given attention by the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Our Kabataang Silay Rondalla with the full support of Mayor Jose “Oti” Montelibano and Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. (to date) has represented the Philippines to the 2nd Asian Children’s Folklore Festival in Guandong, China (awarded with “Performance Memento”); and participated also in the Aberdeen International Youth Festival in Aberdeen, Scotland (“Award of Excellence”).

Our Silay rondalla joined also the international rondalla festival hosted by the Philippines: Naga City, Dumaguete City, Tagum City, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. In Singapore, our children played the following pieces (arranged by JeggerAnjao): “The Flight of the Bumblebee,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” (soundtrack theme), “Bahay Kubo,” “Let It Go” (Walt Disney Song), and “Home” (soundtrack theme). The “Cuerdas II Visayan Medley” composed and arranged by Ramon P. Santos was also played.

The Marsiling Chinese Orchestra played the following pieces: “La Reine de Saba,” “Liang Wen Fu Medley,” “DahilSa Iyo.” The two groups played together “La Bamba,” “Sway,” “Quizas Quizas Quizas,” and “Mother’s Love.”

The singer from the Philippines, Stefanie Quintin (soprano), gave her own interpretation (as arranged by Jegger Anjao) of “Home,” a song sung and popularized by Kit Chan in 1998, the first of the yearly songs commissioned for the Singapore’s National Day Parade. This is a song that promotes a sense of loyalty and belonging to Singapore. (After Stefanie’s rendition, Singaporeans and guests stood up to acknowledge the wonderful performance.)

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore personally thanked Mayor Jose Montelibano and First Lady Marissa Montelibano (and the other Philippine delegates – Councilor Neil Solomon Locsin, Susan Velez, Severino Pacete, Achilles Corteza III, and Veronica Amboni of the NCCA). The staff members of Ambassador Morales were all there in their sparkling Filipiniana attire. We got the support also of Kultura Performing Arts.)

The night was extended until morning when Ambassador Morales hosted a dinner at his official residence to honor Kabataang Silay Rondalla Ensemble. The event turned out to be a “harana concert” for the ambassador and his staff.