Lea Salonga sings popular regional ditties

New generation of Filipinos are no longer familiar with the folk songs many of the older generations had been singing with pride in every gathering of families and communities. These days, a 15-year old may find it strange to hear a voice on the radio singing the popular ditty “Leron, Leron Sinta” or the Bicolano anthem “Sarung Banggi.”

But, there was a time when even popular Amrican singers, like the group The Lettermen, sang a version of ubiquitous tunes, like “Dahil Sa Iyo” (translated as “Because of You”), and Timi Yuro who once visited Manila and was enamored by some of the tunes she was able to listen when she was here.

Lea Salonga drops her 10th studio album, which features songs in six different local languages. 
Apprehensive that these treasured gems of Philippine music would be buried in obscurity, when Filipino singer Lea Salonga was introduced to Angela Jackson and Rex Niswander, founders of GLP Music, part of Global Language Project (GLP), an educational nonprofit that supports world-language learning through best-in-class curricula and innovative teacher development thus enabling students, particularly those in underserved communities, to develop language proficiency for further education and the global workforce, the idea of putting together in an album of nearly forgotten tunes in various parts of the Philippines became something within arms reach. 

GLP Music produces music that introduces children to world languages and world cultures. “We are focused on world music, music in languages other than English, but we had not considered an album in the languages of the Philippines,” said Niswander. “That all changed when we met Lea Salonga. Thanks to her, we began to appreciate the significance of an album that would present the linguistic and cultural diversity of the Philippines.”

This idea would never prosper in the Philippine music industry, given the prevalence of pop music now.

Yet, the album Bahaghari is in the market now, thanks to Curve Entertainment Inc. and GLP Music. It is Lea Salonga’s latest music project. She is indomitable in her desire to present the rich and colorful music of the Philippines to the world. This she expressed to member of the press at the launch of the album at Makati Shangri-La’s Bespoke Grill.

The album has 15 songs popular in the past in various regions of the country and sung in the original dialects—Tagalog, Ilocano, Kapampangan, Bicol, Bisaya and Ilonggo. Lea and the GLP Music and Curve is hoping the would touch the consciousness of the young Filipino generation and help them in their dreams to revive our traditional music’s heritage and preserve the importance and beauty of this art.

Produced by Ryan Cayabyab, recently named NationalArtist for Music, whose deep knowledge of Filipino music proved key to the project. He was able to make the album musically interesting not only with the diverse selection of the songs’ languages, but also with the diverse line-up of arrangers that he tapped for each song, which include Lea’s brother, Gerard.   

“The songs had to be varied in subject, in emotion and in tempo and rhythm,” Cayabyab notes. “The collection could not all be slow songs or only celebratory songs. We had to have a good representation not only of language, but of a variety of subjects and emotions. This would hopefully make for a lovely aural spread.”

Lea’s voice is the thread tying Bahaghari together. “Because the arrangements were all so different from one another, I needed to stylistically adapt my vocals to fit them while holding on to my own voice and how I sing,” reflects Lea. “The more playful stuff, like ‘Pobreng Alindahaw,’ was just so much fun to do in the studio, and some of the more dramatic music, like ‘Matud Nila,’ was straight from the heart. The melodies are just as informative as the lyrics, so I latched on to them.”

 “There is a large Filipino diaspora around the world. They have very tight ties to their homeland, yet many children in the diaspora don’t learn Tagalog or one of the other languages. We hope this album can become a resource for families, to inspire interest in these languages and their wonderful songs,” explains Angela. 

This project felt like the perfect opportunity to introduce the languages of my country to a bigger world,” Lea explains. “A world that might not be aware of the intricacies and differences between these languages. Many of these tongues feel very foreign and strange, and since there’s always a danger that these languages won’t be spoken by future generations, there was a need on our part to preserve them in some way.”

Bahaghari is now available in Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Deezer and all digital platforms worldwide. Physical CDs with a special booklet containing cultural notes written by award-winning writer and director Floy Quintos, and original lyrics with English translations are also available at local record stores.

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Alice Dixson Charity Bowl now on its 2nd year

On Dec. 9, the ever-stunning dramatic actress kicked off the second year of the charity bowling event, Alice Dixson Charity Bowl, at the E-Lanes Bowling Center, Greenhills.

Her beneficiary, the Kalipay Foundation, is a Bacolod-based orphanage that provides long-term care for abused, destitute and marginalized kids.

But what inspired Alice Dixson to spearhead such a noble venture?

She explains, “Last year, we were thinking of what to do for my birthday with my friends, and one day, we went bowling. We had so much fun t hat we thought, ‘Why not do a charity bowl event?’ I had no idea how to organize it, so I spoke to one of my director friends, direk Rich Ilustre, who produces fundraisers for PAWS. In one month, we were able to raise P250k and we really enjoyed putting it together.”

“By His grace, we’ve been able to expand our efforts by finding bigger venues, more participants and more support for our beneficiary through sponsors and donor participation.”

The Kalipay Foundation earned a soft spot in Alice’s heart when she personally saw how they looked after their constituents.

She recalls, “I went to visit Kalipay two years ago while I was in Bacolod, and I saw how the children were treated, the facilities they had and overall, the general condition of the orphanage. It’s not just a place where they’re sheltered and fed, but also experience care and love from the social workers who treat them like their own kids.”

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Topics: Lea Salonga , Alice Dixson
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