Tag: philippine madrigal singers

Caritas et amor in the noblest way

I have been wanting to write about this for weeks now, but I was not able to create the best title for this, until I found this:

Caritas et amor (Gregorian chorale) by Z. Randall Stroope (*1955)
Sung by the Philippine Madrigal Singers
Church of St. Matthias, Munich-Fürstenried, Germany, 2010.
Video credits: isispartners

And that’s what I experienced during my visit to two institutions last month: Elsie Gaches Village and Kinder Zoo (now known as Adventure Jungle).


Christian love of humankind. Charity.

The Shrine of Jesus volunteers visited Elsie Gaches Village in Alabang, Muntinlupa as our outreach activity. As we arrived, we were briefed by one of the social workers there, as to what to expect. They only have a few social workers taking care of some 500 people, young and old, with physical disabilities and special conditions, specifically the mentally challenged. If I recall it right, the proportion is two social workers to one cottage with about 50 persons. That’s too much! A salute is not enough for their noble work.

We were ready. The patients trickled in, and so did the rain. We would have wanted to take a peek of the 16-hectare area donated to the government that used to be a summer villa of philanthropists Samuel Gaches and Elsie McCloskey. One of the volunteers cracked the ice by teaching the patients an action song, which I accompanied with the guitar my husband brought. We were asked to render some songs for them later in the morning.

Randomly, some volunteers would pull me out of a group to play guitar for the others. And they were all delighted to listen to the guitar! Some patients have amazing voices, like the girl who sang Journey popularized by Lea Salonga. Some requested songs and I tried my best to play them well. Mind you, I had to play everything without sheet music, and I did it! What power and love music can give.

One specific reminder that was mentioned to us is that these people appreciate being touched as a sign of love, because of the lack of it. High fives, handshakes, and hugs filled that rainy morning, and were generously given by the Shrine volunteers, and reciprocated by the patients.

We capped the visit with snacks and a simple gift-giving. Theirs are such appreciative and kind souls. We, for sure, are the strangers in their special and blessed world. And as we part, we can’t just help but wonder when they will feel that love again, and from whom. The social worker told us that since the holidays are coming in, a number of organizations wanted to pay the village a visit to do an outreach as well.

I can’t explain how I felt but I was just grateful to the Divine Master for this opportunity not only to do our apostolate to those in need, but also for the chance to do this with some of the nicest people I know — the Shrine volunteers and our Rector, Mons Bobby. They are all inspirations to us as we continue to do our ministry in the Shrine. Challenging days in the Shrine are always outshined by days like this.

It was also a great opportunity to meet the social workers and listen to their stories. They are the patients’ heroes. They are our heroes! No one can match the caritas they selflessly give.


Love. The greatest gift.

Love for animals. They say that animals are a man’s best friend. For zookeepers, this love is so pure.

I took my daughter to Adventure Jungle, found in nearby Manila Zoo, through the invitation of their PR officer, Grace Nicolas, a fellow mom blogger. We’ve been to Manila Zoo before, but this is another facility inside the zoo. And we saw new animals and Aria even got to ride the horse! Truly a highlight for my little champ.

There also, we met and talked with two people, Neng, who has been a zookeeper for more than a decade already. She explained to us that a zookeeper should be mindful of the animal’s feeding schedule, diet, and the like. She had studied these animals on her own, and she’s not even a veterinarian! It was just pure love dedicated to these animal friends.

We also met Mr. John Chua, brand ambassador for Canon Philippines, and a volunteer elephant keeper at the Manila Zoo. He frequents Manila Zoo and he loves Mali the elephant so much, that Mali follows his commands! The kids during the tour were able to feed Mali with some bananas, and Mr. Chua asked Mali to hug one of the media people who covered the event. And he is not paid for this.

If these animals could only talk, I am sure that they will profusely thank Ms. Neng and Mr. John, and their loving zookeepers.

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. God is defintely there, in these two places.

~ Touringkitty

CCP Hands-on Choral Workshop 2014: Training ground of choral champions

Last October, I was fortunate to be part of the team of trainors for the CCP Hands-on Choral Workshop.

This annual workshop is held on the last week of October.
This annual workshop is held on the last week of October, done in partnership with the Philippine Madrigal Singers.
Some present and alumni members of the Philippine Madrigal Singers were trainors for the five-day workshop. Marivic Llamas, Krystl Buesa, yours truly, Joel Aquino, Paolo Pardo, Bianca Lopez, Mark Carpio.
Giddy people early in the morning: some present and alumni members of the Philippine Madrigal Singers aka trainors. Marivic Llamas, Krystl Buesa, yours truly, Joel Aquino, Paolo Pardo, Bianca Lopez, Mark Carpio.

The workshop is now on its 12th season, and has attracted choral groups and conductors from all over the Philippines as well as other countries. This year, we had a choir from Kuala Lumpur participating in the workshop.

Mark Carpio conducting all participants of the choral workshop. They filled the entire stage!
Mark Carpio conducting all participants of the choral workshop. They filled the entire Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo stage!

This was not the first time for me to join as trainor, but everything seemed new to me this time around.

With the God's Heritage Chorale from Bulacan, the choir I handled back in 2006. Along with Sheen Sanchez, another Madz alumnus.
With the God’s Heritage Chorale from Bulacan, the choir I handled back in 2006. Along with Sheen Sanchez, another Madz alumnus. Photo credit: Churchill Garcia-Natoc.

This choir joined the workshop again this year, with some familiar faces and new ones who got to experience the Madz training through the workshop. I guess they find something good and new in each workshop that they’ve participated three times already!

Early this year, the Cultural Center of the Philippines called itself as a Center for Choral Performance, where major choral events are lined up in the Center until next year, the highlight being the second Andrea O. Veneracion International Choral Festival in July 2015.

This year’s choral workshop was made even special because of several factors. Aside from the fact that it had been in hiatus for two years (there were no choral workshops held in 2012 and 2013 because of Madz trips abroad–incidentally, the years I worked for the Center), the workshop also featured a special Artist Talk by no less than Mr. Ryan Cayabyab, who created a new arrangement of one of his songs, premiered by the participating choral groups.

In Mr. C’s talk, he took the audience back to the days when fate had prepared the road for his musical journey, as a son of an opera singer who did not encourage him to take the same career his mother took, as a young UPIS student who was just tinkering on the piano, and as a teenager who would try out different careers–from winning a painting contest to applying as a disc jockey, and eventually getting the biggest gig that paved the way for his musical career. His story was unbelievable, humble, yet very inspiring.

The participants were fortunate to premiere a Mr. C work, Ikaw pa rin ang mahal ko, the theme song of Sa Ngalan ng Ina, originally sung by another OPM hero, Basil Valdez. Here’s a sampling from the Madz Facebook page:

Choirs from various schools, communities, parishes, and companies joined the workshop. Individual conductors, or choirless conductors as they called themselves, who want to be better conductors learned through the sessions with Madz Choirmaster himself, Mark Carpio.

The choirs assigned to me were the MBPS Chorale of Manulife and Musica Chorus of Quiapo Church.
The choirs assigned to me were the MBPS Chorale of Manulife and Musica Chorus of Quiapo Church.

The trainors were assigned two choirs each, who each sang a song of their preference, and one song which came from the trainor and will be performed together. I chose What the World needs now is love, a really simple danceable arrangement of the Bacharach song with piano. As they’ve easily learned the piece, I also gave short pieces as some sort of exercise for them.

I was surprised to know that trainors will also conduct, as I cannot remember doing that during the previous workshop I was part of. I even confirmed this to Sir Mark, to my surprise and excitement. It was my first time to conduct on the CCP’s Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo stage!

What. An. Experience. To conduct at the CCP Main Theater! With Musica Chorus and MBPS Chorale. MBPS' conductor, Ms. Orquias, assisted on piano.
What. An. Experience. To conduct at the CCP Main Theater! With Musica Chorus and MBPS Chorale. MBPS’ conductor, Ms. Oquias, assisted on piano.
Sir Mark handing over the certificate to me. It's as if I've graduated all over again! Thank you, thank you.
Ninong Mark handing over the certificate to me. It’s as if I’ve graduated all over again! Thank you, thank you.

The choral groups may have different backgrounds and reasons for participating, some of them have mentioned this during the opening ceremonies. But to me, they are definitely champions by just being a good solid group, thirsting for knowledge that will help improve themselves and their choirs as they sing for God and for their schools, churches, companies, and communities. They’ve worked hard for those five days, which seemed really short, but all did and went well.

For us, trainors, nothing is more gratifying than seeing the choirs take what you’ve taught them to heart. We’ve witnessed this during the culminating activity. And as we look back at the first day we met them, a lot of good had happened. We’re successful enough to shared a piece of the Madz way. And we hope we could share this to more choristers in the generations to come.

Huge thanks to the Madz family for the opportunity to work with these great choristers and for what seemed to be a reunion of sorts among us alumni especially during break times. Likewise to my former workmates at the CCP and the Artist Training Division for being a venue for these choirs to create more wonderful choral music.

*All photos, save for one, are from the CCP, as posted in their Artist Training Division Facebook Page. Follow them on Facebook and be updated with their upcoming projects.

~ Touringkitty

#ThrowbackThursday: Be part of a TV Station ID = CHECK!

Singing with a world-renowned choral group sure had its perks. One of which is being seen on TV!

So, every bit of TV exposure, we treasure it. And this is definitely one for the books, immortalized through Youtube.

As we await for the new Station ID of this TV channel, which is coming out tonight, enjoy this video they produced ten years ago. As one of the comments read, this is one of their best produced Station IDs. See all the stars there? The Philippine Madrigal Singers, as well as the Hail Mary the Queen Children’s Choir, Powerdance, and the Bayanihan National Folk Dance Company are grateful to be part of it. If I’m not mistaken the orchestra is the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (please correct me if I’m wrong!).

Christmas Greetings from Touringkitty! Come to think of it, this isn’t a Christmas song, but it captured our ears as one for the past ten years and counting. Lyrics here, reposted from Pinoylyrics.net:

Sabay Tayo Lyrics

ABS-CBN All Stars

Sa ‘yo ko lang naranasan, ang lambing na totohanan
Ngiti mong ‘di nagpapanaw, ano pa man ang pagdaanan
Walang malungkot na araw, pag ang kasama ay ikaw
At sa pinag-isang damdamin, malayo ma’y, magkapiling pa rin

Sabay tayo sa bawat pagtibok ng ating puso
Sabay tayo sa lahat ng nais ako’y kasama mo
Sabay tayong lumuha, sabay tayong magsaya
Sabay nagsisikap sa iisang pangarap
Magkaramay sa lumbay, magkasama sa lahat ng tagumpay

Makinig, manginig masdan ang aking bibig,
May sasabihin akong talagang nakakakilig
Matagal ko na itong sa sarili nabatid
Napaka-swerte ko at ikaw ay aking kapatid.
Lahing malupit, lahing astig, matinik, magaling,
Malikot ang isip kahit saang dako ng daigdig
Kapag ikaw at ako’y magkasabay, may malaking bagay
Itigil na natin, alitan at ano mang away
Yabangan, bangayan, tama na ang paligsahan
Mas gusto ko pa na tayong lahat ay magyakapan
Isang pamilya sama-sama, ating lahi bigyan ng kulay
Bandila’y iwagayway, buong mundo ay magpupugay
Sama-sama, lahat ay maghawak-kamay
Bawat isa sa atin ay magsisilbing gabay
Sama-sama, lahat ay maghawak-kamay
Bawat isa sa atin ay magsisilbing gabay

Sa pinag-isang layunin
Sa pinag-samang galling
Saan man dito sa mundo
Ikaw at ako’y magniningning

Kapag kamay mo’y aking hawak
Para akong may pakpak
Pagsubok man ay umapaw
Ikaw at ako’y mangingibabaw

Sabay tayo sa bawat pagtibok ng ating puso
Sabay tayo sa lahat ng nais ako’y kasama mo
Sabay tayong lumuha, sabay tayong magsaya
Sabay nagsisikap sa iisang pangarap
Magkaramay sa lumbay, magkasama sa lahat ng tagumpay

15 and 1

Yesterday, after a full day of work (faculty meeting in the morning then choir rehearsal in the afternoon), I headed off to two important celebrations: the Shrine of Jesus’ 15th Anniversary of its consecration and dedication, and OA’s first death anniversary.

These two events coincided on the same time, so I had to fix my schedule. I sang for the Mass at the Shrine, missed the boodle fight dinner, and went to the dinner gathering albeit super late, where I missed the earlier memorial ceremony and Mass for Ma’am OA.

15: Falling in love…with a church

It is no secret how much I love serving at the Shrine of Jesus. For the past eight years of serving as children’s choir conductor, and eventually, as music ministry coordinator, I was molded into the person I am now. Thanks to my mentor, Monsignor Bobby Canlas, the Shrine Rector, from being a mere choirgirl, I am in the helm of the children’s choir now, and have handled important projects of the Shrine.

The past 15 years have been a true testament of God’s love to this church. With no parishioners living around the area, the Shrine community started with tens, then hundreds, then now, thousands. From that barren land stood only that church where no public transport dared to travel. Lay people from nearby provinces were called to serve. The Shrine eventually became a popular wedding, baptism, and reception venue, and a favourite among churchgoers when important church feast days like Holy Week and Christmas seasons come nearer.

Mons Bobby explained during the Mass how the Shrine of Jesus came to be. In 1995, during the 10th World Youth Day held in Manila, Philippines, then Pope John Paul II proclaimed to build a church in honor of that well attended and successful event. After four years, the church was inaugurated and named Shrine of Jesus, the Way the Truth, and the Life. Quite a mouthful for a church name, I first thought, but it originated in John Paul’s message during that Mass, that Jesus is our way, truth, and life.

What keeps us loyal to the Shrine? It’s the community it built. It’s the welcoming atmosphere among its volunteers. It’s the solemn and meaningful celebrations of the Holy Eucharist. It’s the “pakulo” we tirelessly prepare during special occasions.

Most of all, it’s a church that gives back. In 2008, my wedding year, some music ministry members were starting to plan projects for the benefit of the church. A simple concert will do, we said. Our Rector dreamed bigger for us. And out of that dream, we were able to have the Philippine Madrigal Singers perform at the CCP, and we were able to raise 1 million pesos for the PGH pediatric cancer patients. It was more than what we dreamed of. Of course, we were able to raise more than our target amount, so the rest went to several other institutions, and whatever was left went to the Shrine. We were just humbled and proud of that project.

Apart from it, and Mons Bobby does this all the time, he fervently asks the community to dig deeper into their pockets to give more during calamities. Give until it hurts, that’s what he reminds us always. Whatever is collected, he sends straight to the affected diocese.

The Shrine has been blessed because of its priests, its talented and generous lay people and churchgoers. The church is always misconstrued as strict, or sometimes, snob, especially when kids roam around during Mass. I’d say, disciplined is the proper word for it. And I would not have it any other way.

1: In memoriam

A year ago, Ma’am OA, as we would call the founder of the world-renowned choral group, the Madz, passed on.

The Madz is the Philippine Madrigal Singers. Ma’am OA is Prof. Andrea O. Veneracion, its founder. I wrote about her necrological rites last year here, and another blogpost months prior her passing on as my tribute to her here.

I, along with two more Madz alumni, came almost at the end of the program, but we’re glad to have made it. As OA would say, Just do it. So we braved EDSA traffic (which was unusual at already eight in the evening!), were served dinner, and listened to more singing and more testimonials to our dear Ma’am OA.

And the highlight of the night: this song.

Justice Magdangal de Leon and THE Sal Malaki who originally did the guitar and flute, er, should I say, whistle of the very first Madz song I learned in my church choir in high school. Happiness.

Happy 15th Anniversary to the Shrine of Jesus, and happy first year in heaven’s choral community, Ma’am OA.

This was the fundraising concert the Shrine co-organized. It was held two weeks before my wedding, that's why I was not able to sing anymore for this. I "resigned" from being Madz member in the middle of 2008, with much sadness but much fulfillment and memories in my heart.
45 and 10: Madz’ 45th Anniversary and 10th Shrine Fiesta. This concert was held two weeks before my wedding. I “resigned” from being Madz member in the middle of 2008, with much sadness but much fulfillment and memories in my heart.

~ Touringkitty

Half a decade after

…and it’s still surreal!

Here is the video clip of the announcement of winner of the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing back in August 2007.

Check out Touringkitty in the video, my dear lucky charm, the Hello Kitty wand given by my now dear husband.

Let me take you to Arezzo for a few minutes with these pics:


All choirs were given a few minutes to soundcheck. This was when we were waiting for our turn. One is trying not to be too nervous!


This was us after singing our competition set. And just look at the people who came and cheered for us! Some Madz Alumni came from overseas, Filipinos from Italy, Italians from nearby Provinces where we had concerts in, and even Spanish friends!


Sir Mark receiving the trophy, with all calmness and composure. While his singers were rowdy, shouting, thus losing our voices as we came back to Manila the next day!


This was us after the announcement of winners. We partied on the streets of Arezzo, in full costume, screaming our hearts out of joy and thanksgiving for the wonderful and once in a lifetime opportunity, twice for some members who won the same award in Tours, France, in 1997.

This competition capped our three-month journey in Europe. A few days after a quick pit stop in Manila, we flew to the US for another six-week concert tour.

That was my third tour with the Philippine Madrigal Singers in Europe. And that will probably be the most unforgettable.

To my sectionmates Liaa, Rhina, Karlene, Mavic, and Bianca, they say being a soprano in a choir is tough job, and I think it is. Continue to share your music to God’s people.

To the power altos Kuya Chris, Ate Pearl, Ate Melody, Ate Julie, Gladys, you’re all great singers and soloists and I admire you all!

To the tenors Sheen, Weng, Leo, JC, Aldrich, sing on, guys!

To the basses Itay Emman, Enrico, Kuya Jo-honey, Kuya Philip, Melvir, Marvin, your voices gave depth in the circle. May your voices continue to resonate for Him wherever you may be.

And to our dearest Sir Mark, we are so so proud of you! You taught us to work towards excellence yet still be humble of what we achieved. Thank you for believing in us. Thank you for believing in me! I never dreamt of this, but you trusted me enough to share the music we’ve worked hard for many months before the EGP.

Five years passed and it still seems like yesterday. The nervousness, the goosebumps, the sweaty hands, making sure I will give the exact pitch at the beginning of each song, making sure they hear the pitch!, and the big sigh of relief after we’re done with our set.

Most of all, in our little way, we represented the Philippines. It brought us great pride to be singing and carrying the name of the country in such an important competition.

Our country must have been bestowed by the Lord with such great and talented singers, that we are just lucky to share it to the world through the Madz. And what better way to celebrate it is by bringing the competition in our own homeland, via the Andrea O. Veneracion International Choral Festival Manila 2013.

More about the competition on the next post!

~ Touringkitty

Photo credit: All photos from the UPMS Multiply Website