POSTSCRIPT / December 26, 2013 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Trust singing to unite, resurrect the Visayas

HALLELUJAH: In the good old Diliman days, we UPSCAns used to hold a choral concert in December. Our (ehem) repertoire was always capped by Handel’s “Hallelujah”, which we belted out with more loudness than musical finesse – with the audience jumping to its feet.

The four voices practiced separately until the last weeks when we merged and tried blending under the super patient Prof. Antonio Molina. Most of us could neither read notes nor carry a tune, but we managed somehow with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Maestro Molina pretended not to notice that many of us were singing, or trying to, from codigos of the lyrics taped on the back of the choir member standing in front of us.

It boosts our spirit recalling those days of unbridled singing at Christmas time, suffused by Handel’s powerful chords proclaiming “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Child is given….”

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THE GOOD NEWS: It has been said that when Jesus was born in the hills of Bethlehem, a choir of angels appeared in the heavens singing hosannas and sharing the good news first to shepherds and then to the whole world.

As narrated by Luke, the shepherds were terrified by the appearance of an angel who, like a reporter of yore, explained that he had good news for all people:

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Soon a covey of angels joined in, praising God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Like a news report inspiring various interpretations, the angels’ statement had been translated in different ways. Many of us have favored the King James translation: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

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MUSICALITY: I mention our choir days and the angels singing the good news, because it occurred to me that if there is anything that can quickly unite and resurrect this nation, particularly the calamity-ravaged areas of the Visayas, it is probably music and our people’s innate musicality.

As a native of Luzon, I had been amazed when participating in seminars and workshops in the Visayas that music is a necessary part of the lives and routine of the people in the region.

Always, always, always… singing was part of any seminar program. Even during breaks, somebody was sure to take out a guitar, start strumming — and soon everybody would join him in song.

The singing, and most especially the getting together, is more energizing and warming up than the stretching and calisthenics of Japanese corporate exercises at the start of the work day.

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RADYO BAKDAW: For one, in the devastated town of Guiuan in Eastern Samar, it appears that music will also play a big role in the community’s rising from the ruins.

Electrical supply is spotty and the only radio station in town is still picking up the pieces. But the local folk appear on their way to singing and talking themselves back to normalcy.

The Internews Earth Journalism Network, a non-government organization, has set up an emergency radio station. Radyo Bakdaw, which means “rise up” in the local Waray language, has been broadcasting 14 hours a day, reaching up to Tacloban City and northern Mindanao.

Stijn Aelbers of Internews said putting up an emergency broadcasting facility is crucial in the full recovery of Guiuan. Communication is part of the debriefing process for victims of calamities, he said.

Before Yolanda hit the area last month, residents used to sing their hearts out live every Friday night at the local radio station’s weekly “Karaoke Singing Contest.” The contest has been revived by Radyo Bakdaw.

With the lack of sufficient and stable electricity, the station has managed to reach listeners by distributing solar-powered radio sets to all 60 barangay chairmen.

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PETILLA QUITTING: True to his word, meanwhile, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla is set to resign after he failed to make good his promise to bring power back to all typhoon-devastated areas before Christmas.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said yesterday: “Secretary Petilla informed me that despite the fact that he has energized all the towns except for three, he chose to keep his word.”

One wishes that other officials who had shown their incompetence despite ample breaks also quit and give President Aquino a free hand in assembling a better action team for the remaining two years of his term.

The other day, Petilla admitted that at least two more towns in Eastern Visayas have yet to be connected to the power lines, but that the main lines of town and city centers already have power.

Some of the remaining technical problems, it seems, are due to failures of local units. But a promise is a promise.

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CRICKETY MUSIC: TruthSeekerDaily.com reports that composer Jim Wilson has recorded the sound of crickets and then slowed down the recording, revealing something amazing.

He said the crickets sound like they are singing the most angelic chorus in perfect harmony. Though it sounds like human voices, everything in the recording is the crickets themselves.

The recording contains two tracks played at the same time: The first is the natural sound of crickets played at regular speed, and the second is the slowed down version of crickets’ sound.

Wilson said: “I discovered that when I slowed down this recording to various levels, this simple familiar sound began to morph into something very mystic and complex… almost human.” More at: http://tinyurl.com/lctbfeu

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 26, 2013)

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