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Music fest relives Bicol folk song

BICOL takes pride in having a regional folk song which captures the character and aspirations of its people. “Sarung Banggi” is Bicol’s signature love ballad, and arguably one of the country’s most popular and well-loved folk songs. Composed by Potenciano Gregorio of Libog town (now Sto. Domingo) in Albay, the song which literally means “one night” tells about an enchanted evening encounter between a love-struck man and a lovely rural lass. Composed on May 10, 1910, the song was arranged for band by Gregorio in 1918 and performed by Banda de Libog, the municipal brass band. Because of its growing popularity, the composer arranged it for symphony orchestra in 1930. He joined the famed Philippine Constabulary Band under Col. Water Loving and was named its representative to the San Francisco World Expo in 1939. He died of pneumonia en route to the event and was buried at an obscure grave at the La Loma Cemetery. This rich musical tradition takes center stage once more as the town of Sto. Domingo holds the Sarung Banggi Festival this May to celebrate Gregorio’s 133rd birthday and the song’s 113th composition anniversary. Now on its 11th edition, the festival will be highlighted by various musical and cultural events capped by an intimate evening street parade on May 25 in keeping with the theme of the song "Sarung Banggi." Sto. Domingo Mayor Herbie Aguas said the festivity will showcase Gregorio’s musical legacy, the town’s gift of music, as well as its natural wonders. The town is known for its picturesque Church of St. Dominic where Gregorio was baptized and compose "dotok" or religious music, fine black sand beaches, natural springs, and the majestic view of the perfect cone of Mayon Volcano. Gregorio is honored in a maosoleum housing his tomb and musical memorabilia erected in 2006 when his remains were exhumed in May 2005, and brought home for a municipal vigil and reinterred with military honors. In 2010, he was proclaimed a Municipal Artist by the Sangguniang Bayan and the Sarung Banggi Festival was institutionalized. Due to Gregorio’s monumental contribution, Sto. Domingo has been named by Albay Governor Joey Salceda as the art and culture center of Albay. He said that plans are afoot to form musical ensembles and visual arts group to make the town a repository of music.
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