When I think of my childhood, my mind is flooded with a supercut of memories that fill me with a sense of nostalgia and overwhelming gratitude.
There are times I see flashes of the days my brothers and I would catch grasshoppers in the garden, and when my Papa Julius would teach me how to putt. I can sometimes smell the apple pies my Mama Nelia would bake for us during Holy Week or the boxes of goodies my maternal grandparents would send us from the U.S.A. I can still hear what it’s like to be in school at dismissal time — the school bell would ring, the guard would page people’s names, and the hum of endless chatter and laughter would echo in the hallways. I have the ability to recall all these things when need be, but sometimes I get blessed with random mind-flashes of these most cherished memories. Oh, the bitter-sweetness of nostalgia.
One of the things that triggers my nostalgia the most is music. Certain songs remind me so much of my parents—like the New Wave 80’s hits my dad would play, and the uplifting orchestra and jazz music my mom would indulge us in.
It’s underrated, really — the power a simple melody can hold over us all. With the ability to influence feelings, unearth memories, and hypnotize the mind to remember a tune over and over again — it’s something that goes beyond the physical and almost crosses over to the realm of the spiritual. Music is metaphysical. Music is mystical. Music is magical.
One of the recent memories that I can’t seem to shake off my mind is the “Huni ug Hudyaka sa Pasko” debut concert of the UP (University of the Philippines) Symphony Orchestra in Cebu.
It’s one thing to listen to orchestra music blaring in speakers at home, but it is a whole other ball game to listen to a sixty-five piece full orchestra live. I have seen orchestras before—like on the sets of some musicals I’ve watched — and they were beautiful. But, to be immersed in the grandeur of sixty-five instrumentalists that played in such a perfect way was something indescribable. The sound of multiple instruments playing in synchronicity, while others deliberately stood out, created layers of melodies that seeped inside my soul and carried it away in waves.
There were times where I would break away from my trance to look around at the people in the audience with me, and would see so many of them closing their eyes and gently shaking or nodding their heads to the melodies that soared around us. Muting one sense heightens the others, after all. And, closing one’s eyes helps one focus on the sound.
The program featured many Christmas favorites, some selections from West Side Story, some songs sang by a soprano, “Magellan” by Yoyoy Villame sung by a tenor, and other classical pieces and Filipino favorites.
A personal favorite (and, in my opinion, the most breathtaking piece) was the one that welcomed us after the intermission — a beautiful “Overture for Senyor Sto. Niño de Cebu” arranged by Roberto G. Del Rosario.
The piece and its effects on the audience was pure magic. I wish I had a recording of it I could play to you right now because there are absolutely not enough words in all the languages to properly describe all the feelings that piece incited for me as a Cebuano. An overwhelming sense of nostalgia mixed with pride would barely describe it. It wasn’t just touching or hypnotic — it was transcendent.
Hearing the medley of songs that honored Cebu’s patron saint played in a full orchestra was a cultural and spiritual experience that my family and I could not stop talking about long after the concert.
With that, I would like to commend the UP Alumni Association Cebu Chapter, UP Cebu Educational Research Foundation Inc., UP System, and — of course — the UP Symphony Orchestra for bringing such delight to the Cebuano audience.