Message by NCCA Chairman

National Artist for Literature
Chairman, National Commission for Culture and the Arts
5th International Rondalla/Plucked String Music Festival

Ladies and gentlemen, to and our brothers and sisters from all over the globe, good evening. We warmly welcome you to the Philippines as we formally open the 5th International Rondalla/ Plucked String Music Festival. It is our pleasure to have you here.

It is difficult to find a Filipino gathering that is not filled with music. The story of our nation is also accompanied by music. Rondalla may have been introduced in the Philippines by Spanish colonists in the 15th century but how we adopted this passed-on heritage and developed it so that it accompanies our narrative as a nation is uniquely Filipino.

Today, rondalla is no longer the soundtrack that solely depicts the idyllic Philippine folklife. It serves as an ever-evolving marker of the diverse cultural elements that continue to influence us, and shape us to be the Filipinos we are today, a reflection of our many realities.

Credit must be given to my colleague in the arts, Dr. Ramon Santos, National Artist for Music, who, together with the people behind the Strings of Unity Festival editions, have took on the challenge of pushing the capabilities of our musicians and of rondalla music for more than a decade. With each festival mounted we push the repertoire and our talents to cover a wider range stylistic, functional, and formal elements while raising the level of artistry and technical precision to new heights.

This Festival celebrates traditional Philippine music, a nod to our past while also showing the world the capabilities of Philippine music to develop as our artists, composers, scholars share their talents and work on its development. We are celebrating our past and seeing what is possible in Philippine music.

I also thank the government of the historic and beautiful city of Silay headed by Mayor Mark Andrew Golez for hosting this remarkable event. The dedication of your city for the protection and development of your cultural heritage from your architecture to cuisine to music is exemplary and must serve as a benchmark for other cities.

This traditional music festival is made possible because of the collaborative undertaking of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Silay City Government with the support of the Office of Senator Loren Legarda. In partnership with the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental, the Department of Education-Silay City, Asian Composers League Philippines (ACL), University of the Philippines College of Music and the National Music Competitions for Young Artists (NAMCYA).

It is an achievement that the Philippines becomes host to international plucked string performers from all over the world. In an era where there is much dissonance that stems from our differences as people, the language of music brings harmony. It is vital for cultural agencies, such as the NCCA, to put their efforts in allowing for these kindred spirits, artists from around the globe to congregate. The gathering reminds us that as while we come from different religions, race or speak different languages, at the core, the same things move us, and in nine-days music will bring us all together.

Mabuhay ang musika, mabuhay tayong lahat.