Solidarity in the time of COVID-19 -- MS Supplement
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UST Singers alumni sing for the world

The global alumni of the University of Santo Tomas Singers have reunited in an unprecedented virtual expression of solidarity and brotherhood amid a worldwide lockdown caused by the pandemic coronavirus.

Forced into social distancing by the pandemic, which has infected and killed thousands, 95 alumni of the USTS broke chains of isolation and uncertainty, bringing life to composer Dodjie Simon’s anthemic ‘Isang Dugo, Isang Lahi at Musika,’ with choral arrangement by Dr. Joel Navarro.

The founder and conductor of 2019 Choir of the World Champion of Champions, Prof. Fidel G. Calalang Jr., credits the seed of the special project taking root when a USTS Physician alumna expressed exhaustion from being a COVID-19 frontliner, yearned for the comfort of music in such difficult times.

Calalang reminisced: “The power of music. I guess it all started there and the rest is magical. God led us anew to a true blessing.”

The support the alumni singers poured into this project eventually reached full-scale.

Undeterred by time and place, this rich group of artists, professionals and healthcare frontliners collaborated and chose a song, among many Filipino compositions, which embodied a grateful, unified nation despite the challenges of a society and economy under crisis.

The song, written and recorded in Filipino, required translation for English subtitling to communicate its universal message of peace to non-Filipino viewership.

The translation was done by Hermione Cabie-Santos, a freelance writer/editor who has been featured in “Women on the Journey” and “Women of Worth (CSM Pubishing, Manila)” who is based in Toronto, Canada.

According to Calalang, “The spirit of driven unity that stemmed from Amor y Amistad is relived. This time, the music is not only for ourselves but for a more noble cause.

“A panacea for wounded bodies, agonized hearts and broken spirits.’’ He was referring to the staggering deaths and rising incidence of WHO-confirmed cases around the world.

In mid-April, homebound USTS alumni, 26 of whom are frontliners, recorded vocal tracks individually and separately with mobile phones, to create this unique symphony of hope.

The video project titled #HeartHealHope was successfully released in social media at noon on April 25 in the Philippines as a gesture of gratitude and support to frontliners, healthcare warriors, survivors and those affected by the crisis.

To date, local and international communities have celebrated the virtual message, with nearly12,000 combined shares and likes and nearly 400 comments from responders on Facebook, including online acknowledgement from non-profit organizations and international agencies.

The virtual collaboration speaks of USTS’ unified voice, yearning to connect Filipinos and the world population through a journey of healing.

Topics: University of Santo Tomas , Dodjie Simon , COVID-19 , #HeartHealHope , Hermione Cabie-Santos
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