Lessons from Mam OA (late post)

Days after Mam OA’s farewell to this world, our choir went to the CCP to attend the necrological services of the national artist of music.

We arrived early to the main theater to rehearse for our part as a chorus in two of the songs and we get dressed in our usual gala uniform (aka choir dress). I never thought that it was a formal event to be attended not just by Mam OA’s family members and friends, but also by the important people in the industry. I saw famous personalities like Ms. Imelda Marcos and Ryan Cayabyab at the CCP lobby, and the theater itself is jampacked with all members of the choirs from MADZ Et Al.
As the program started, there are people sharing stories about Mam OA. Some of the MADZ Alumni turned government officials shared their story during their European tour, and there are some who shared their experience while having her as their voice mentor. We all laughed, smiled and giggled at their experiences with her. There are also some who shared their experience in realizing their talent in music. She has this gut-feel on those people who has this raw talent in music, and for that they are all grateful for they are now realizing their talent and now making their name in the industry. Her strictness, discipline and love for the craft made her one of the most-sought mentors in her time. She is, overall loved by all.
I realized so many things after I heard Mam OA. She has the heart to listen, to make one realize their love for music and the passion to excel in the craft. That is why the Philippine Madrigal Singers is born, and from her singing children born a vast number of choirs, a network called MADZ Et Al. The MADZ has been an inspiration to all of the budding choirs in all corners of the world, in which everyone wants them to be.
Another thing I realized: the strictness and the discipline that my mentors had came from Mam OA itself. She has honed them (and they are all sopranos) and make them one of the powerful sopranos during their stint with the MADZ. During the program, it makes me think, “Kaya siguro ang galing nila, dahil kay Mam OA.” It makes me appreciate all the strictness and the gruesome training that I received from them. And from that, I wanna thank them from the bottom of my heart.
After the program, I’m surprised to see my former mentor, Ate Elsie who is now conducting her own choir in Makati. I also saw my friend’s aunt, who happens to be one of the MADZ Alumnus. I heard that she’s one powerful alto at her time. Another former mentor, Mam Ana is not around at that time for UE Chorale is in Japan when it happened.
But still it was an overwhelming experience. I can’t help but to be thankful for her, for her heart in music and her life as a mentor and a mother for us all.
CDSS 2005, With the national artist of music
It’s now our turn to pay it forward, Mam OA. I’ll do my part in my own little way to pursue your dream of the Singing Philippines. Thank you again.

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.