INQUIRER.NET multimedia reporter Izah Morales visits the town of Nagcarlan to see how espasol, one of Laguna's famous delicacies, is made. She interviews Ester Almanzor, daughter of Belen Castelo, who established Aling Belen's Special Espasol. Video taken by INQUIRER.net online videographer Janie Christine Octia in Laguna, Philippines.
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SAMAON SULAIMAN of Mama sa Pano, Maguindanao received the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan or National Living Treasure Award in 1993 for outstanding artistry in the Maguindanao kutyapi, a two-stringed plucked lute. Watch him play this difficult-to-master Filipino instrument.
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Online Videos by Veoh.com Video produced and provided by Tesoros.ph.
By Edwin Fernandez Inquirer CAMP SIONGCO, Shariff Kabunsuan--An alert used clothing (ukay-ukay) vendor, police and military authorities yesterday foiled a bombing attempt in a densely populated public market in Tacurong City. Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, spokesperson of the military’s 6th Infantry Division, said a suspected terrorist group allied with the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah planted a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) at a stall selling used clothing along a busy street in Tacurong City, an agricultural city rocked by more than a dozen bomb attacks in the past two years. The vendor noticed the explosive left unattended near the stall of his merchandise at about 7 a.m. He immediately carried the device to a children’s park and reported his discovery to the police. “He actually prevented what could have been a bloody Wednesday morning,” Ando told the Inquirer. 1Lt. Francis Señoron, team leader of the Army’s bomb disposal team, promptly defused the home-made bomb and prevented injuries and death to innocent civilians. He described the IED as “very powerful.” It was fashioned from three live 60 mm mortar projectiles packed with jagged fragments of cast iron, nails, and rigged with a battery-operated trigger mechanism. Ando said the IED was placed inside a black bag left by still unidentified men at a makeshift stall owned by Joselito Baylon, a dealer of imported used clothing. “It would have hurt many people and caused major damage,” said city police chief, Supt. Teng Tocao. “One of the workers of Mr. Baylon was so vigilant that he immediately suspected the bag left unattended by a man,” Ando said. “What is remarkable was that he risked his life by carrying the bag and brought it to the plaza where no one would be hit should the bomb explode,” Ando said. Baylon told police he has no known enemies.
By Vicente Labro Inquirer BALANGIGA, Eastern Samar--With fervor and pride, they again paid tribute to their forebears who left behind a legacy of love for freedom. People of the century-old coastal town of Balangiga in Eastern Samar commemorated the 106th anniversary of the victory of their forefathers against American invaders on Sept. 28, hoping anew that the historic Balangiga Bells taken as war booty by US soldiers will eventually be returned. A festive mood pervaded the town as the historic event was marked, albeit with less pomp as before. Photo shows a dance drama depicting American soldiers taking away the church bells of Balangiga. The reenactment of the 1901 Balangiga Encounter participated by hundreds of residents-cum-actors -- the crowd drawer for several years -- was “temporarily cancelled” for lack of funds, Mayor Viscuso de Lira said. It was replaced by a dance drama of high school students. Despite the scaled-down festivities, De Lira said the occasion was still meant “to pay tribute to our great men and women who fought and died in asserting their priceless freedom from foreign domination.” The Balangiga Encounter Day retained the other activities in previous celebrations -- the civic-military parade, thanksgiving Mass, wreath-laying ceremony and commemorative program. It remains a holiday in the province. The attack The dance drama showed what happened during those fateful days in Balangiga. It peaked with the depiction of the successful attack staged by bolo-wielding Samareños on the US garrison and capped by American soldiers taking away the church bells. Historians recount that the ringing of church bells on Sept. 28, 1901, signaled the attack on the garrison of the US Army’s Company C near the church and municipal hall. Relations between the natives and the Americans had soured because of alleged abuses, including the molestation of several women and forced labor. A few days before the attack, Maj. Eugenio Daza, district leader of the Philippine Revolutionary Movement in Samar, secretly met with Capt. Valeriano Abanador, Balangiga police chief, and other revolutionary leaders in Sitio Amanlara to finalize their plan. The revolutionaries were from Balangiga and nearby Lawaan, Giporlos and Quinapondan towns, which were then barrios of Balangiga. On the eve of the attack, some guerrillas entered the church dressed as women, while others carried a coffin purportedly containing the remains of a cholera victim but which actually concealed sundang (long bladed weapons). When Abanador raised his cane to signal the raid, the bells started ringing. Some 500 natives with sundang and spears attacked the American soldiers, most of them having breakfast. Fifty of the 74 soldiers were killed while 22 were reported wounded. Others escaped by boat to nearby Basey town where another US detachment was located. A handful of soldiers were able to get hold of their Krags and shoot dead some of the natives. Howling wilderness Some historians considered the event the “worst single defeat” of the US Army during the Philippine-American War. In retaliation, the US Army sent Gen. Jake Smith to Samar. According to some accounts, he ordered his men to kill all Samareños aged 10 years old and above, burn houses, shoot working animals and seize crops, making Samar a “howling wilderness.” When the soldiers left, they took away, among others, the church bells as war trophies. Two of the bells are still mounted at the Fort Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, while another is kept by the US Army in a warehouse in South Korea. Many efforts have been made by local and national leaders for the return of the “Bells of Freedom” but to no avail. The former bishop of the Diocese of Borongan, Leonardo Medroso, went to the United States a few years ago to seek the return of the bells, but veterans’ groups in Wyoming were adamant in their decision not to send them back. Medroso had even cited an order issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1864 that defined specific articles that should be respected and not taken as trophies of war, and these included church property. “Nagpapabilin it aton hingyap, it aton mga inop nga hibalik ine nga aton Balangiga Bells (Our hope, our dream that the Balangiga Bells will be returned still remains),” Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone said in a message during the commemorative program on Sept. 28. “We don’t know when these will be returned. Many have already worked together for the bells’ return because these are symbolic to us but up to now these were not returned. If these are not returned yet, let us just not forget the reason why the event took place,” Evardone said in Waray. “The reason? It’s simple -- a struggle for our rights that was trampled upon during that time,” he added. Sen. Loren Legarda, the guest speaker, vowed to continue working for the return of the bells, citing Senate Resolution No. 155, which she recently filed, that urged the Philippine government “to exhaust all efforts to persuade the government of the United States to, as an act of goodwill and solidarity between these two nations, immediately return” the bells to Eastern Samar. “While the church bells were taken in an atmosphere of divisiveness, perhaps hatred and revenge, what is essential is that we, the Filipino people, now strive for peace and reconciliation,” she said. Castor Gamalo, 41, a legal researcher assigned to the regional trial court in Balangiga, a former college professor and whose great grandfather was one of those who died in that historic battle, said he owed it to his slain forebears to continue the efforts to reclaim the bells. Joy Campanero of the Balangiga Tourism and Information Office stressed the need to continue remembering the event, if only “to remind the younger generation this is the best legacy of our forebears.” Campanero is a descendant of Vicente Candeluces, the man who rang the bell that preceded the attack. The belfry of the renovated church still shows that one of its four windows is still vacant, signifying a space reserved for at least one of the original bells. But a replica could be seen at the belfry in the P6-million Balangiga Encounter Monument that was sculpted by national artist Napoleon Abueva. The monument depicts local revolutionaries who are about to attack, with Captain Abanador raising his cane to signal the raid and the ringing of the bells. Photo by Vicente S. Labro
By Tonette Orejas Central Luzon Desk CITY OF SAN FERNANDO--The poor have ceased being just receivers and the rich, the givers. They both participate in building families and communities in Pampanga. This is the “paradigm shift” that Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio, a Catholic priest, said he had helped introduce in his first 100 days in office. It manifested also in the ability of Vice Gov. Joseller Guiao and provincial board members to “rise above their disagreements” with him and “putting the needs of the people above all else,” he said. In three months, the provincial government has allocated P63 million for infrastructure and P52 million for basic social services. Reporting on his first 100 days on Monday at the capitol, Panlilio said the vehicle in removing the recipient-giver mentality was the “Pamisaupan” or “Helping Each Other” program. Even poor residents have a part in this, he said: they provide labor to repair classrooms and hospitals and construct toilets using supplies provided by the capitol. Private partners, on the other hand, help by validating the needs in schools and communities, or rendering labor for construction or management expertise in community projects. “The key to uplifting the lives of the masses is in giving importance to the advancement of their dignity,” he said. “We do this because that is the mandate of our servanthood. And when we do this, it should be nothing more, nothing less. We’re bringing our people’s dignity back,” said the 53-year-old governor. Panlilio said the accomplishments in the first 100 days were not his alone but shared by more than 1,000 capitol officials and employees, the provincial board and private groups. His seven-page “scorecard” included the improvements of facilities and services in nine district hospitals and the Diosdado Macapagal Provincial Hospital. Those hospitals were given an additional P300,000 each for medicines. The Pampanga Health Office is building a laboratory to screen tuberculosis patients. The supplemental feeding program has started in six schools and medical missions are done every week in remote villages. Nearly 500 walk-ins seeking medical and social assistance have received more than P900,000. In education, the provincial government has adopted a program to stop the high dropout rates and increase the comprehension level of students.
By Jocelyn Uy Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--This 77-year-old retired home economics teacher has come up with simple and real recipes for peace in her troubled little town in Sulu province. Wobbly from arthritis, Norma Abdulla was never fettered from helping couples resolve fights or calling the attention of authorities whenever there’s trouble in her neighborhood. “Peace should start with solving petty conflicts in the community, especially in the family so it will not escalate into a full-blown clash that could involve the entire town,” Abdulla, convener of the first Muslim Women Peace Advocates in Sulu, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Friday. For going the extra mile, which not many people her age would take, the Jolo native was named one of the 10 recipients of the annual Ulirang Nakatatanda awards by the nonprofit group, Coalition of Services of the Elderly Inc. (COSE). She received her award on Sunday, the culmination of the celebration of the Filipino Elderly Week led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development. In selecting the Tausug leader, COSE said Abdulla “is an icon of public service and dedication, highly respected and well-loved” in her community in Barangay San Raymundo, Jolo. She was nominated by former Sen. Santanina Rasul, a pioneer of the Mindanao-based Muslim Women Peace Advocates (MWPA). Abdulla’s spirit for community service was kindled at the Sulu Trade School (now Hadji Butu School of Arts and Trade), where she taught teenagers to pickle food, sew handicrafts, crochet and stitch clothes for 16 years. She was then 22 years old and a fresh graduate of the Centro Escolar University (CEU) with a degree in Home Economics. Later, she earned a master’s degree in Home Economics and a doctoral degree in Education from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, and CEU. As part of the Sulu Trade School’s outreach program, Abdulla visited homes of poor people, dropped by the public plaza in her hometown, and gave cooking lessons to impoverished wives and mothers to boost livelihood opportunities. This was in the 1950s when Jolo was a peaceful town, she said, and had yet to worry about the Abu Sayyaf bandits, the armed Moro rebels or the tension between Moro separatists and the military. Rising from the ranks Over time, Abdulla rose from the ranks and became president of the Sulu State College. Meanwhile, the violence in neighboring strife-torn districts pervaded Abdulla’s hometown. Suddenly, the situation called for more than just outreach programs. Evacuees were seeking shelter in the schools of Jolo. “Now and then, people would leave their homes, go somewhere, and come back. It was really hard,” she said, recalling her own experience in 1974 when Jolo became embroiled in a shooting war with armed rebels. The commercial district was burned down. Abdulla and her family, along with other residents, had to find shelter in a hospital and later in a school. Escape to Jolo “Because of escalating conflicts, people from outlying communities and municipalities would flee to Jolo where there was electricity and drinking water,” Abdulla said. The modest town, flanked by restive Patikul and Indanan, gradually became crowded and the sidewalks teemed with hawkers, she said. “Before, you can walk the streets even at midnight. Now you can’t. The stores close at 5 p.m. Even drugstores close early because they are scared of extortionists,” Abdulla said. The challenge The opportunity to address the mounting restlessness in her hometown came seven years after her retirement. In 2003, Abdulla was tapped to join the core group of the MWPA in Sulu whose mission was to gather and train women leaders in the barangay, and help solve petty disturbances, such as land conflicts, crimes and family troubles. She accepted the job, despite her weakening knees, numbing of hands and graying hair. “I’m the oldest in the group, but I accepted the job because I still think I can contribute to peace-building. I am glad not one of my six sons has reminded me that I am old and that I should be resting,” said the spunky grandmother of 20 grandchildren. Secrets of peace Peace-building begins with simple acts like “never insult unlettered people so you don’t earn their ire,” Abdulla said. A small misunderstanding must be settled as soon as possible, a little help from someone in authority would not hurt, and asking questions should be encouraged, she added. After assembling the first group of peace advocates in Jolo in 2003, she set out for Indanan and Patikul to expand the group’s network. “We didn’t go there to stop the war. We went there to teach them how to prevent conflicts in the household level. Because if you leave that unsettled, it could escalate until the whole community is involved,” Abdulla said. With the culture of vendetta common among warring Moro clans, a simple spat could easily become a full-blown feud or a “rido,” she added. Peacekeeper After four years with the peace group, Abdulla has helped resolve a number of family crises -- from a wife complaining about her husband’s infidelity to a husband objecting to his wife working outside the home. Her secret? Patience and a willingness to listen. After a shooting incident a couple of years ago near the mosque in the barangay, relatives of the victim came to her and asked if she could talk with the authorities into setting up an outpost to curb violence in the area. Abdulla saw the mayor herself, who immediately responded to the request. Age doesn’t matter When a boy was killed in Indanan after watching television in a neighbor’s home early this year, the council immediately wrote a resolution asking the authorities to investigate. Abdulla herself met with the brigade commander, believing this was the only way to address lawlessness in the area. These gestures may be paltry in a troubled place, but Abdulla believes such actions will create ripples leading to a long-term peace someday. “To me, age doesn’t matter if you want to do something. You don’t have to be young to serve,” she said.
By Gabriel Cardinoza Inquirer DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines--It's now a lot easier to spot the bangus (milkfish) grown in Pangasinan. They are now labeled either "Dagupan bangus" or "Pangasinan bangus." Those without these labels are considered "alien bangus," or grown somewhere else, according to city agriculturist Emma Molina. "We have to act fast because we cannot ignore and set aside the perception of our consumers," Molina said. "Besides, we have to give premium to Dagupan bangus and differentiate them from Pangasinan bangus and from bangus [raised in other provinces]," she said. Dagupan bangus refer to those grown in the city's fish pens and ponds while Pangasinan bangus are those grown in other towns such as Bolinao, Anda, Bani, Sual, Lingayen, Binmaley, San Fabian and Alaminos City. The labeling of homegrown bangus was triggered by the arrival here last month of large shipments of bangus from other provinces, creating fears among local growers that it would impact on the local bangus industry, which is the lifeblood of the city. "Not only were these sold P15 to P20 cheaper than our bangus but these were also passed off as genuine Dagupan bangus," said Julita Perez, president of the Malimgas-Aliguas Dagupan Vendors Federation. To the untrained eye, an "alien" bangus looks exactly like a Dagupan bangus. To tell the difference, one has to smell the gills. "An 'alien' bangus has that distinctive, unpleasant, mud-like odor," Perez said. Dagupan bangus, especially those raised in the fishponds in the villages of Bonuan Gueset, Bonuan Boquig and Bonuan Binloc, are said to be the best tasting bangus variety in the world. But Molina said the labeling system the group has adopted is the best it can do for the moment. She said in her meetings with local bangus growers and wholesalers that they were thinking of putting individual labels on each package of bangus. "But we cannot easily implement it because we need to closely coordinate with the Department of Trade and Industry because there's a DTI project under the One Town-One Product program, where the DTI identified that the provincial product would still be bangus," Molina said. To ensure that the bangus products are properly labeled, Molina said the city government's market division had fielded market inspectors to monitor bangus wholesalers. "There are more than 50 wholesalers and we have identified who are trading Bonuan bangus, who are trading Dagupan bangus and who are trading Pangasinan bangus," Molina said. There are only four wholesalers trading "alien" bangus, she said. "The peculiarity of their operations is that they do not trade 'alien' bangus the whole 24 hours that they operate because the 'alien' bangus arrive during a specific period," Molina said. At least 200 kilograms of "alien" bangus arrive here every other day from Zambales and Bulacan, she said. "But when the supply is small, the trick is that these are mixed with the Dagupan bangus or Pangasinan bangus. So it is passed off as such, which is detrimental to the industry because we all know that they do not taste like our bangus," Molina said. While the city government is still perfecting the labeling scheme, Molina said they could only bank now on the honesty of the wholesalers. "We told them that we could not protect the industry alone. We can only protect it if it is coupled with honesty and with the spirit of being a Dagupeño," she said. "The first that would be ruined is Dagupan's bangus industry and second, the credibility of the operator. Even if we help each other on the monitoring side, if the person selling it is not telling us the truth, still [we will have a problem]," Molina said.
By Carla Gomez Inquirer BACOLOD CITY--Negros’ muscovado sugar, which is gaining popularity in the growing health-conscious global market, is synonymous with those mouth-watering pastries only its people can make best. The dark brown, slightly coarse, unrefined sugar, which still contains the minerals and vitamins originally found in sugarcane, has a pleasant bitter-sour taste from molasses not found in regular sugar, says pastry reinventor Millie Kilayko. It is also this sugar that makes Negrense pastries delightfully different, bringing back memories of the old days of leisure and long lunches. Carrying on the tradition of making muscovado-laced pastries are second cousins Maritess Sanchez of Silay City’s famous El Ideal and Kilayko of Casa Carmela in Bacolod City. Both come from old Silay families who have a reputation that revolves around delicious meals capped by desserts. Sanchez and Kilayko also live in the homes they have known since birth, and their factories are just a flight of stairs down their living quarters. Sanchez has chosen to remain close to her workplace to continue the family business that was passed on to her -- along with all its original recipes. Kilayko finds her proximity to her factory the best assurance to meet the best manufacturing practices, especially sanitation. “As I take my daily 30-minute walk around my garden, I can poke my eyes into the work site and check on the way it is cleaned before the rest of the workers come in,” Kilayko said. Handed-down traditions Sanchez’s and Kilayko’s links with the past are perhaps the reason they have a devotion to “perpetuate” the recipes of old. Sanchez said her grandfather, Cesar Locsin, together with his two sisters began making cookies before going solo by starting El Ideal Bakery on Rizal Street. El Ideal, for three generations, has been the place where travelers buy the deliciously sweet pasalubong items for friends. Locsin passed on the business to Sanchez’s mother, Alicia Locsin Villanueva, who, in turn, passed it on to her. Many of El Ideal’s sweets are made with muscovado sugar that the growing health conscious population sees as a healthier option, she said. Among the products are its golden brown angel cookies made from cuttings of hosts served during communion, high-fiber “muscobite” cookies made with wheat flour, guava-apple pies, butong-butong (chewy sugar nougats) candies, and “musco bars” similar to butterscotch. And, of course, the star of the delicacies is the “piaya” still made the way Sanchez’s grandfather made it three generations ago. Kilayko, on the other hand, has a passion for creating new products using the personalities of the old and traditional, innovating from what has been handed down to present generations of cooks, and changing these into something fresh before handing them over to the next generation. Last year, Kilayko introduced her version of the “piaya” -- crisp, light and thin, unlike the original piaya that has a thicker layer of muscovado sandwiched in it. While the new product gives one’s palate only a delicate flavor of muscovado sugar between fine layers, it still carries the personality of the one prepared by generations of cooks before her. Inspired by the success of her reinvention, Kilayko introduced bite-size “piaya,” which she calls “piayito,” and healthy versions using whole wheat. Casa Carmela’s crisp and thin “piaya” also come with different personalities: tropical (mango, banana and ube), gourmet (after-dinner dark chocolate with mint, cinnamon and espresso), cocktail (low salt, pesto and country herb) and low sugar (a blend of muscovado sugar and Splenda). However, the ones with muscovado sugar filling -- whether they be using traditional flour recipe or the healthier whole wheat dough -- still remains the most popular, Kilayko said. Trade fair Kilayko and Sanchez are among the 73 Negrense producers who are bringing their products to the Association of Negros Producers’ (ANP) 22nd Negros Trade Fair at Rockwell in Makati City on Oct. 3-8. The group banners “Innovation and Reinvention” as this year’s theme. This time, Kilayko said she would be combining the two most popular delicacies -- “piaya” and “barquillos” -- all in a bite. Keeping its crisp and thin features, and retaining the fine layer of muscovado filling of her piaya, it is rolled into the shape of the barquillos. This new product Kilayko calls paiquillos is a perfect match to a scoop of ice cream or a cup of coffee. Kilayko also makes crispy piaya ice cream cones and accepts orders for crispy piaya fortune cookies. Organizing the trade fair “is not just to create a shopping venue, but to continually seek and tap new domestic and international markets and bolster inter-provincial and international linkages,” said Doreen Alicia Peña, ANP vice president for trade fair and marketing.
By Carla Gomez Inquirer Visayas Bureau BACOLOD CITY, Philippines--He will have to work for 20 months to earn the P100,000 he found in a room of a government resort in Negros Occidental recently. But Pedrito de la Torre, a contractual employee of the government-owned Mambukal Resort in Murcia town, preferred to return the money that he found under a pillow in a resort room occupied by Korean nationals who checked out on September 19, said Negros Occidental Provincial Board Member Edgardo Acuña. In recognition of his exemplary act, Vice Governor Isidro Zayco said on Thursday he would recommend to Governor Joseph Marañon the hiring of De la Torre as a permanent employee of the Capitol. "What he did should be emulated," Zayco said. Board Member Miller Serondo suggested giving De la Torre a cash reward, which was immediately concurred with by Zayco and the other SP members during their regular session Wednesday. They said they would give P1,000 each to the contractual employee. On motion of Acuña and Board Member Frederick Ko, the board unanimously passed a resolution commending De la Torre for his exemplary act and honesty. De la Torre earns about P5,000 a month as a contractual employee at the mountain resort. Zayco said the awarding of cash and a certificate of appreciation to De la Torre was scheduled for Friday at the governor's office.
By Gerald Gene R. Querubin Inquirer BOAC, Marinduque--The Muslims have their “singkil” and the Visayans, their “Usahay” and “Dandansoy.” But what do the people of Marinduque have? This question has inspired an advocacy by a music educator since childhood to learn and preserve songs and folk dances that are truly Marinduqueño. “I heard old folks in my place singing old short songs aside from the kundiman and love songs with positive values. I listened to some of them and there, my research began,” says Prof. Rex Manuel Asuncion, who is now director of the Center for Cultural Arts Studies of the Marinduque State College in Boac town. Asuncion started playing simplified versions of Filipino folk songs on the piano during his elementary school days. He was also actively involved in folk dance presentations in schools and town fiestas. While growing up, he noticed that the students’ most-sought performances were limited to folk songs and dances of other provinces. They were not taught to sing or dance any Marinduque songs and dances. “If we have ‘Sarungbanggi’ of Bicol, ‘Atin Cu Pung Singsing’ of Pampanga, ‘Pamulinawen’ of Ilocos, ‘Usahay’ of Cebu and ‘Dandansoy’ of the Visayas, Marinduque has its own folk songs which are unheard of yet existing,” Asuncion says. The professor envisions that the island-province will soon be proud of its songs that speak much about its traditions, culture, beliefs and lifestyles. Asuncion has so far documented and notated the following folk songs: “Alamat ng Dalawang Puting Gansa” (The Legend of the Two White Geese), a legendary myth about two lovers who jumped into the river and became white geese. “Sulong, Aking Tandang” (Charge, My Rooster), a courtship song that depicts the intention of a rooster to a beautiful hen. “Isang Buong Dayap,” a song of longing for a dear someone who died. “Lahat ng Bagay” (All the Things), a song that compares life to the scent of a flower. “Dalagang Parang” (Lady of the Fields), a nationalistic song that describes the ability of a Filipino woman to live and succeed in everyday life by helping her husband in the field. Asuncion is now working on different versions of the traditional “putong” (royal welcome) and other songs. Folk songs, he explains, are short songs that express love, loneliness, festivities, harvests and religious activities, and have no particular composers. Just like the Tagalogs’ “Bahay Kubo” (Nipa Hut), these continue to exist in the community and are sung by old-timers, he says. People long ago tended to make songs because it was one of their activities that they did in lieu of modern technology, he adds. Authenticity “Before we perform music in terms of solo singing or choral rendition, we look first for its authenticity—and that is the beginning of research,” Asuncion says. Music authenticity or originality, he explains, covers the exact melodic pattern, lyrics, time signature, key signature, tempo, style, influence, purpose, event and function, and how it evolves in the community. Moreover, respondents must be at least 60 years old for music validation, Asuncion says. “I made them sing and record their voices individually and join them in singing to intensify the music. After a long hour of staying with them, music analysis follows and this demands more time.” “I go back once I finish my notated music and check some discrepancies with the old folks until I finalize it with them with their approval,” he adds. Old folks are willing to share what they know because they see themselves in the studies being made and they feel that they are part of the songs, Asuncion notes. Learning the ropes Asuncion learned music research and how folk dances and songs were documented through close interviews with National Artist for Dance Ramon Obusan, Dr. Larry Gabao of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and other music professors. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Music Education degree from the Centro Escolar University in 1995, and a Masters in Music, Major in Music Education, also from CEU, in 2006. He received a gold medal for excellence in research. A baritone-tenor, he teaches humanities, music education and curriculum development under the MSC’s School of Education and prepares music modules for early childhood programs. “The only thing that makes them different is that dance focuses on figures while music is on tonal approach,” Asuncion says. “I have also seen how a Peking Opera was documented in Beijing, China, in 2006 and I could not imagine the level of patience on their performances. You know how slow some parts of the Chinese opera are,” he says. “I was even more challenged to document our own music, instruments, rural costumes (if there’s any) regardless of its musical mood and tempo as long as it will identify my own native land.” Local folk songs, he says, must be included in the learning competencies of the music curriculum because they also comprise the basic elements of music. “It gives full identity to the locality and has the power to develop every learner to become more patriotic to his native land. This also magnifies the love for native tongue or dialect.” Folk songs can be further improved once they are written in simple piano pieces for beginners and set into recording for production intended for income-generating purposes in the form of video compact discs, he said. Asuncion is looking forward to promoting Marinduque’s identity in terms of music heritage. He simply wants to respect, adore and appreciate his ancestors, who had lived and believed in the beauty of music. He is grateful for the moral and intellectual support of his superior, Dr. Carlos Andam, vice president for research and extension of the MSC, and his co-author, Prof. Liza Marie Manoos, who does the technical aspects of his research.