Grace Nono with ensemble comprised of Bo Razon, Faisal Monal and Charles Wandag brought Philippine chants and music at the Asian History Museum last October 29. It was a great month ender for the Filipino Heritage Month of October.
Grace Nono's interpretation of indigenous music from pre-Islamic and pre-Christian times is soul wrenching and captivating. Music then was part of everyday life. It's entrenched in religion, tradition, daily chores, festivities and rituals so experiencing it LIVE and performed by actual artists who hailed from the near-extinct Philippine tribes was an amazing spiritual experience. My male friend, a closet poet and activist, was teary eyed early in the show. He said he cried because the gongs and hegalong reminded him of the lost and beautiful culture we had before the colonizers came. I was weepy too but for a different reason. For a few minutes while listening to a Maguindanao chant and in between goose bumps and an unusual heavy feeling evoked by the ancient music, all that is beautiful and ugly about the Philippines came rushing back to me. I saw our rainforests and mountains, its rivers, animals, the illegal loggers. I sniffed the sampaguita florets of May, touched the shoreline of our warm, sandy beaches. I tasted the tears of children forced into prostitution/labor and I crossed the traffic-ridden and grimy streets of Quiapo again like it is not thousands of miles away. It was surreal! I am so glad to have been there last night.
Thanks Grace Nono for musicians like you! This is the type of music we should keep alive and treasure because it is ours.
Grace Nono, Faisal Monal and Charles Wandag
On a side note, I'm also thankful to my Alma Mater, UP Diliman. I first saw Grace and another ethnomusician, Joey Ayala way back in college. In fact, all that I like, love, support and do stemmed from that unique UP Diliman culture and experience. If it weren't for that University I will be content watching prime time shows on TV, and youtubing past episodes of the original PSY series starring my fave hunk, Echo and Tin. And I still do quite often. Lol. It's not so bad.
The bottom line is I am grateful and proud to be from UP Diliman like Ms. Grace Nono. Thank you Philippine tax payers for paying our tuition. Forever grateful 😉🇵🇭
Here is the YouTube link for the video I took of the show. Click the link below.
Grace Nono in NYC, October 30, 201
The compiled videos are just tidbits of my shameless unofficial recording of Grace Nono's performance. There will be two bobbing heads and stretching arms as I sit on the second row. I'm guilty and not guilty at the same time. I felt like I need to keep a piece of it with me. The first 3 chants with the Maguindanao gong ensemble was not captured at all because at that time I was in a trance-like mood I didn't realize I wasn't taking videos at all.
I hope they do more shows in the future. This is what an expat soul needs from time to time.