Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. She peacefully passed on two days before her birthday. Mission accomplished, and with flying colors.

Mixed emotions during the Cremation

It was 11th of July, 2013. Could have been OA’s 85th, but she missed it by two days.

I went to her cremation, on the day of her birthday. I saw her before she was cremated. It made me sad even more. Only a few times I was able to visit her, mainly because I did not want to see OA in that condition. So I just prayed for her. Throughout those seven years she was bedridden, I prayed for her. I remembered my Lola Queta, my paternal grandmother, who was also bedridden for quite some time before she passed on.

It was also the first time for me to shed tears for someone I am not blood-related to. As we sang the opening refrain of one of OA’s favorites, L’important c’est la rose, tears well up my eyes. I recalled my 16 year old self learning that song for the first time. Yes, that, along with Love is the Answer, were the first two songs of the Madz I have learned as a church chorister. I was not even a Madz fan back then. Heck, I did not even know who the Madz were!

But wonderful was that song, I recalled all the wonderful moments I had when I was starting as a chorister. That experience with my former church choir paved the way to my decision to take up music, and eventually join the Madz. Wonderful, priceless moments, which took me to almost all corners of the world. It will not happen if not for the gift of singing. The Lord used us to be His instruments of peace, and I am so proud and humbled to have been given this gift and share it to the world for everyone to see God’s goodness.

At a certain point, laughter filled the small room of about fifty attendees–immediate family, friends, Madz present and alumni. OA’s daughters would kid us when they said that the Madz was the “first family” of Ma’am, because she would devote more time to this choral group, rehearsing, performing, touring with them. But they understand very well, which makes us soooo humbled and blessed.

OA has the most generous family–her blood family. What more can you ask for–she has a supportive husband and children who understood OA’s mission in this world. They “shared” OA to the world, especially to her musical family of about 200 children and probably close to a thousand extended children–the Madz and Madz et al.

A Necrological Rites fit for OA

14th of July, Sunday. I already was set to welcome a visiting choir in our church and my choir was also singing for the mass before I found out the schedule for the necrological services. But somehow, I knew I had to attend. It will be great to be part of sending OA off. I even brought some members of my children’s choir, who are very privileged to be part of the Madz et al Family. One of the members told me after the services, that it felt like she knew OA for a long time after watching the tribute video, hearing the eulogies, and the response from her eldest daughter. I told them that necrological services for National Artists are open to the public always for us to really recognize their contributions in uplifting their artform and to know why they deserve to be called such. I wished I could have brought all my kids but they also have service on our church that morning. By some stroke of chance, though, almost at the same time we were singing Prayer of St. Francis (arranged by Robert Delgado, Madz Alumnus) as a grand choir by the end of the rites, my choir sang another arrangement, by Ryan Cayabyab, another Madz Alumnus, during communion in the church. They joined the whole Et Al family in praying, in thanking Him for making us instruments of His peace.

About 50 Madz singers stepped on the Main Theater stage to sing the signature song of the Madz–Alleluia by Randall Thompson.

Youtube link of actual performance here.

In the tribute video, OA explains how this song was received during their first international tour in 1969 at the Lincoln Center in New York. Video here.

Then eulogies were given by former Madz members, which made us laugh, cry, reminisce, and proud of the Madz’ achievements throughout the 50 years. Sir Mark also gave his tribute to Ma’am, and indeed, OA prayed hard for her successor. Truly the Holy Spirit guided her and gave her wisdom to make that decision.

The Madz sung some songs, but most touching were the performances of OA’s grandchildren–Elle (doing a solo number), Diego, Stella, and Andie (doing a Taylor Swift song with Diego on guitar). Amazing children!

As we all sent OA off for departure honors, a shower of rose petals were given, well deserved and well executed.

Indeed, OA had her season, like a rose. We will have ours, too, in God’s perfect time. We just have to keep on trusting, keep on praying, and in OA’s words, just do it.

Thank you for inspiring us, Ma’am. Until we meet again.

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