Thursday, August 1, 2013

July 16th: Bicol College -- IP Rondalla in Legazpi by Kendra Sy

Kendra is the daughter of our host in Legazpi, Bicol. She is 17 years old and currently a high school student studying in the Netherlands. While on vacation from her studies in Europe, she joined the IP Rondalla on their two-day adventure in Legazpi. The IP Rondalla instantly enjoyed her company and, after the tour, personally asked her to write about her experience with the group. This is her story.

Kendra Sy (me!) trying out the ATV

Having lived in the Philippines all my life, I thought that I knew my homeland like the back of my hand. Then the Fil-Ams of IP Rondalla group knocked on my door, almost literally as my mom barged into my room early in the morning to wake me up and greet the strangers by lunchtime, and I must admit that it was a pleasant surprise.

As aforementioned, I met them around noontime when I had lunch with them at this buffet restaurant whose owner was friends with my mom. Basically my mom was coordinating the group’s stay in Legazpi City after the unfortunate situation in Sorsogon, which they originally planned on visiting. Since I just came back from my studies abroad, my mother wanted me to tag along wherever they went since they were around my age and came from somewhere else in the world. Honestly I was reluctant at the beginning, but I’m glad I did in the end.

During the lunch, I was able to meet many of the performers, and some of them even put in the effort to befriend me, which I appreciated a lot because I knew that they were tired and sleepy by the time we met. We talked about our own lives overseas, our interests, especially in music, and our travels in and out of the country. Then I taught them how to say “Good Afternoon!” in the local dialect, Bicolano (“Marhay na hapon!”), as they prepared to meet City Mayor Hon. Noel Rosal right after the meal. The meeting was short and concise, as expected from busy people (both the IP Rondalla group and the Mayor, of course!).

With Sierra and her mother
at Cagayawan Ruins
Right afterwards we all headed to the house next door, namely, my home. Yes, it must have been odd for many that I basically lived right next to the Mayor, but that’s what you get for coming from such a small city. We even kept on agreeing that everything is just a few minutes car ride away, so there was no time for them to rest while travelling! At my home they ironed their clothes, rested a bit and wore makeup in preparation for that night’s performance. I was only observing them move around, and it was beautiful to see them working together with such efficiency – as if being on tour for weeks had hardened their hearts and produced a regular routine.

Then I went with them to their next venue, the Bicol College Auditorium. I will never forget the little fun fact that we came up with: Legazpi has Bicol University (BU) and Bicol College (BC), just like how Boston has Boston University (BU) and Boston College (BC). Even when they first stepped out of the car, they were already turning heads from the bystanders around. When the time came that their performance was about to begin, the gates opened and a massive crowd of students from different walks of life stumbled in and rushed to get a good view. Lucky for me, I sat next to my mom in the very front row, allowing me to perfectly visualise the handsome art that they presented that night.

The IP Rondalla after a tiring performance at Bicol College
They called themselves “IP Rondalla”, so the rondalla playing was a given. But many others talked about the dances and the singing, thus my anticipation built up. True enough, they strummed their instruments with accuracy while donning various outfits and choreographically swaying to the beat, even exceeding the expectations of many by the end of their performance. There was even a Star Wars skit, reinforcing the fact that there was no dull moment throughout the entirety of their performance! But just when I thought that they could not possibly have any more tricks behind their sleeves, they truly shocked me when George gave me a white rose amid the sea of shrieking girls midway through the show. Later on he explained that he gave it to me because he knew me and he was a little embarrassed to hand it to one of the very excited girls around. Even though that is the case, thank you! After receiving a multitude of applauses from the crowd and many minutes of non-stop smiling amid the heat, they held hands and bowed as they embraced the standing ovation by the end of their show. While they had their photos with fans during the meet-and-greet session, I simply looked on and smiled, thinking about how lucky I am to have known these talented people.

Sitting with my friends, Sierra and Ronn, at Alvi's Grill
waiting for our yummy dinner!
After having dinner with them at a local restaurant, we parted ways and called it a day. I was able to spend more time with them during the next two days that they had in Legazpi, so I decided to reflect on my experiences with them in general for this article. Just when I thought that I knew my country well enough, these people came and definitely proved me wrong. I’m sure that I am not the only Filipino guilty of overlooking the splendor of my very own culture. Even Sierra, one of the performers, put me to shame when it came to Original Filipino Music (OPM) knowledge. By presenting in such a unique and well-thought out manner, surely they were able to inspire a lot of people to look back at their roots, just as they have successfully done. If they could do it while being in a whole different continent, I’m hopeful that many full-blooded Filipinos can do even more.

              Kendra Sy

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