July 27, 2023

Scholars to trace the Philippine string music tradition in a forum 

Musicologists and historians will explore the evolution of string instruments such as the guitar at a hybrid event, “Kaskas! String Instruments from Precolonial to Modern Philippines.” 

The panel discussion will delve into the string instruments among indigenous groups in the Visayan islands during the protohistoric period, as witnessed by Jesuit missionary Fr. Francisco Alcina. 

Furthermore, it will shed light on the incorporation of the Iberian guitar into the Philippines through transculturation.

In the hybrid event taking place on July 28, 2023, at 3 p.m. at Palm Grass Hotel, attendees will discover how guitars played a role in the various aspects of life of the Christianized communities during the Spanish period, including religious ceremonies, cultural festivals and the romantic harana.

A panel of experts including ethnomusicologist Dr. Jose Buenconsejo, former Dean of UP Diliman College of Music; musicologist Maria Alexandra Chua, Director of the University of Sto. Tomas Research Center for Culture, Arts, and the Humanities; Dr. Kristyl Obispado, a Mexico-based professor at the UP-Diliman Department of History; and Maestro Danny Camara, a Choir Director and Pianist in Mexico, will provide their valuable insights and expertise, enriching the discussions on the subject.

The event will also screen a video exploring the historical context of the iconic Cebu guitar and the Catholic liturgical music tradition. The video will present primary sources provided by the National Archives of the Philippines along with materials from the US Library of Congress; and will feature interviews with ethnomusicologist Dr. Jose Buenconsejo, musicologist Dr. Maria Alexandra Chua and Baclaran Parish Priest Fr. Rico John Bilangel, CSsR. 

It will also show some clips of the Baclaran Church rondalla mass; and a guitar performance of “Matud Nila” by Eman Jamisolamin, a guitar instructor at the UP Diliman College of Music. The video is created by Social Communications Asia and produced by Palm Grass The Cebu Heritage Hotel and Tres de Abril Foundation Inc. 

As a special highlight, Rommel Tuico, the singer-composer of hit song “Dili Tanan”, will grace the event with performances of his hit Visayan songs on guitar.

The event organizers, Palm Grass The Cebu Heritage Hotel and Tres de Abril Foundation, Inc., have collaborated with various organizations such as the Guitar Foundation of the Philippines, Inc., USC-Department of Anthropology, Sociology and History, USC-Center for Social Research and Education, University of Cebu Symphonic Orchestra and Strings Ensemble, San Alberto Carmelite Formation Center, Museo Sugbo, Diyandi Heritage Center, the Central Visayas Association of Museums, and SOAN2020.

“Kaskas! String Instruments from Precolonial to Modern Philippines” celebrates the diverse musical heritage of the Philippines, exploring ways to preserve and rekindle interest in this precious aspect of the country’s culture.

The hybrid activity will be livestreamed on the social media pages of Palm Grass The Cebu Heritage Hotel and its event partners. To reserve a spot for the event, interested participants can register through the provided link.