Monday, July 29, 2013

July 8th: University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB)

Tita Cris, IP Founder, welcomes the Los Banos High School students to the IP Rondalla's outreach performance at
 UP Los Banos. The UPLB auditorium was packed to the brim with an SRO crowd of cheering, shrieking, and
highly pumped up audience -- a good indication that "Rondalla Rocks!"
Mural inside the UPLB auditorium.

                                                                         I just came back from three tiring but worthwhile performances at the beautiful campus of the University of the Philippines at Los Banos (UPLB). So far, this was definitely the most memorable performances for me on this tour. I met a plethora of extremely intelligent and amiable students from UPLB, some of whom performed during our welcoming ceremony the night before and our performances today, I was able to revisit UPLB, a place close to my family's heart, and I was able to be reunited with many of my family's friends and professors. 

My mother, Sonia Rubico-Jamir, had been planning this event for more than a year. She contacted her former advisor at the UPLB Food Science Department, Dr. Priscilla Sanchez, who willingly accepted our request within a week. Since then, my mother had been working so hard for this performance with our coordinator, Dean Maritess Yee of the College of Human Ecology (CHE).

Our first performance began at 11 am and was a free outreach concert for the Los Banos National High School, a local public high school in Los Banos catering to the general population of mostly poor families. According to Dr. Sanchez, this school that was interested in starting their own rondalla but doesn't have the funds yet to buy the instruments. Honesty, it was the most packed auditorium I have ever seen. A total of about 1,500 students attended...and that's only 10% of the total school population! Kids in their uniforms not only filled the seats but also lined the auditorium steps and walls. From where I was standing, it seemed impossible to get one foot through. As a result, for some, it was complete standing room and no place to move!

Nope, these are IP Rondalla Rocks! and not Beiber concert fans. The enthusiastic response we received from these
avid fans was a welcome surprise to all of us. Not only did we get our full "30 minutes of fame" - their support
boosted our self-confidence. Hope our instant popularity does not get into our heads :o)

This free performance was meant to introduce high school students to the rondalla by giving them a snip-bit of our full repertoire. We prepared a 30 minute performance, which included songs, such as "Gaway Gaway," "Pobreng Alindahaw," "70's Movie Medley," "Ewan/Marry You" and "Just Give Me a Reason." You could not imagine how raved and ecstatic they were, especially with 70's, when George had to crawl into the audience to give some lucky girl a rose; and Pink's hit, "Just Give Me a Reason" dedicated to all the lovelorn. Halfway through the performance, all I could hear was a fluctuating shrieking sound, probably from all the girls (and boys) who were obsessed with George's daring move and could not control their emotions.

After the preview performance, the IP Rondalla arranged a "meet and greet" session with the students. We quickly discovered that many of the Rondalla kids had by now become instant celebrities among the teenage viewers. So IP parents had to form an "instant security" and "crowd management system" to control the horde of hysterical IP Rondalla fans as they interacted and took pictures with us. Needless to say, a long line of cheering, shrieking and mesmerized teenagers inched through the stage, some coming back two or three times just to make sure they get to shake the hands, hug, or get their pictures taken with as many IP Rondalla members. Our "15-minutes" of fame stretched to more than an hour as more avid "fans" waited outside the auditorium to get a parting look, hug, or pictures taken with rondalla performers.

The IP Rondalla in their colorful costumes performing at an SRO crowd at the UPLB auditorium.

UPLB Sindayaw Cultural Group performing a welcome
dance for the IP Rondalla at the pre-show reception.
They are very talented and energetic performers! Kudos.
The next two evening gala performances were full-length performances, with a few dances performed by the UPLB Sindayaw Cultural Group during the intermission. Although the viewers weren't as enthusiastic compared to the high school students (they're the older university students, professors and administrators), they still clapped loudly and sang along with much energy and gusto. The audience seemed eager to listen not only to the modern songs we played, but also the traditional folksongs that make Rondalla what it is. Honestly, although we had to endure three performances, it was definitely one of the most fun shows we've had. The audience enjoyed our performances and our hosts and sponsors, Dean Maritess Yee, Dr. Priscilla Sanchez, Vice-Chancellor Fernando Sanchez, Dory de Villa, Linda Dizon, Mafe Ombico, Tess Ramirez, Gerry & Olga Salas,  Cynthia Hedreyda, Celia Erni, Irene Maligalig, Bubut Rosales, Vinya Capuno (lunch donor), Tito Caloy  & Sophia Rubico (snacks donor)  and my lolo (grandpa), Dr. Don Antiporta families (dinner donor), were so kind and generous all throughout our stay.  Being the prime university of the country, the people we met, such as the UPLB Sindayaw Cultural Group, UPLB Food Technology staff, alumni, former professors (Dr. Elias Escueta, Dr. Ricardo del Rosario, and Dr. Virgilio Garcia) and College of Home Ecology (CHE) Student Council members who served as ushers and co-organizers, were some of the most intelligent, sociable and funny people we have ever met.

View of the UPLB field from the Dioscoro Umali Auditorium.
Me, posing a quick picture with my family and Lolo/Lola, Dr. Don Antiporta
while happily feasting on fresh buko juice (young coconut meat and juice). 

By the end of the performances my face was absolutely caked in make-up, my feet and arms worn out, and my body telling me "it's time for sleep," but I wasn't ready to leave yet. It's weird to say, but I felt a part of me just couldn't leave UP Los Banos, even though this was my mom's special place and not mine. Having grown up listening to snip-bits of her memories here, however, I've grown to feel more and more attached to this school than I could ever imagine. This performance at UPLB showcased how a group of friends, teachers and students, with dedication and openness, can work together to produce something so grandiose and successful as this. Honestly, I am so impressed and proud that my mother went to this school. Whether it's because of the beautiful campus, the buko pie and carabao ice cream, the food science department or just the humble, heartwarming and intelligent people that made UP Los Banos so genuinely special, UPLB has found a place in my heart. So although I'm gone, heartbroken and crying inside, be sure that I'll be back and alive the next time I visit!

Rondalla Rocks! cake provided by Vinya Capuno Yan and family for a
successful concert. Thank you very much UPLB. 

Thank you so much UP Los Banos. This has truly been a wonderful and unforgettable experience.

Ta-ta for now!

Sierra Jamir

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Sierra! Great reporting - but made me homesick :(