Of love and light (and a tiny tribute to the National Artist for Music)

Let me share this story.

When I joined the University of the East chorale, I was unaware of all the songs from different languages and genres that we all sing during my trainee days. I was only familiar with the church music, for I grew up singing with our neighborhood parish every sundays and on special church occasions. All I know at that time is that I enjoyed singing with my fellow choristers for it felt good and the music is all new to me.

The rehearsals are all hard, I lack of sleep and I slacked in my classes since then. But I don’t mind for I enjoyed everything. I learned a lot from our conductor, Mam Anna for helping me with the vocal training, confidence on stage and to look great in front of all.

I remember that we are given a chance to watch one of the Philippine Madrigal Singers’ concerts in the CCP little theater, and I was amazed by their vocals and their performance. Andrea Veneracion, also known as Mam OA is the MADZ conductor at that time and I was in awe from what I saw and felt. It was pure bliss.

I met Mam OA again in one of the UE chorale concerts before in Binondo church sometime in 2002 or 2003. I think it was for the MADZ’s ruby anniversary, where different MADZ Et al choirs get to perform in different parishes in different events (this is where I met my present Et Al choir, Coro De San Sebastian). I was scolded by Mam Ana at that time for not having my gown being pressed properly (wala pa akong lalagyanan ng choir gown at that time) and Mam OA might notice my gown’s poor state. I went behind in my fellow chorister and have my gown pressed by hand so that it’ll look neat and the remaining creases will not get noticed.

After that I met her several times during some of the Et Al concerts, even after I joined Coro years before her retirement in 2005. Everytime I see Mam OA watching us on stage, I feel nervous and in awe at the same time because of her reputation, dedication and most especially her love for choral music. It was her who created the “Singing Philippines”, the reason why the MADZ Et Al exist today in all parts of the country. I’m thankful that because of Mam OA, the Philippine Madrigal Singers is here and also the hundreds of MADZ Et Al choirs being headed by the past and present members of the Philippine Madrigal Singers.

I am one proud chorister, thanks to my choral mentors and for Mam OA.

And today, I am one of those who are grieving for her loss. 

I’m extremely sad after I heard the news from my Facebook friends. I can only pray and be thankful for Mam OA, for her love for music has touched so many people from all parts of the world.

I’m happy that I get a chance to meet her when I’m still a meek little chorister who wants to be part of the university chorale.

To the national artist for music, Mam Andrea Veneracion, THANK YOU for the gift of music. Your legacy has touched so many lives. May you rest now, and we will see each other soon.

Cristal Maramag

Corporate ninja by day, superwoman-of-all-trades by night. Loves food, anime, music, travelling, running and many more. Do contact me at sailorstarcatcher@gmail.com for events and more!

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