Bringing the love of kundiman back
By NICK TAYAG
For the past few weeks, an online musical show has been generating buzz in Filipino homes here and in other countries. The show is called “Kung Hindi Man” and is produced by the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Office of the President (CCP’s OP). It has been airing via the CCP’s OP Facebook page every Saturday at 6 p.m., which started last Sept. 25, 2021 and will end in December of 2021.
The phrase “Kung Hindi Man” when contracted would give you “kundiman,” which is the term used to label a genre of traditional Filipino love songs because the said three words were typically the first line of a song’s lyrics.
The exciting online show unwraps a treasure box of beloved classic and pop kundiman as performed by top Filipino talents put together in a series as only CCP can.
For Arsenio “Nick” J. Lizaso, who is concurrently president of the CCP and chairman of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the time has come to bring back this traditional song genre for the enjoyment and cultural enrichment of all Filipinos young and old.
Lizaso says that the idea behind it is to acquaint and enrich the cultural knowledge of the Filipinos, especially the young generation, while being entertained. It was something he had been mulling in his mind ever since he assumed the said lofty positions. Being a man of action, Lizaso is now making it happen.
Kundiman started as a means of serenading and expressing one’s admiration for a lass in the rural areas of the Philippines. The melody is characterized by a smooth, flowing, and gentle rhythm with dramatic intervals.
It emerged as an art song at the end of the 19th century and by the early 20th century, its musical structure was formalized by supreme Filipino composers such as Francisco Santiago and Nicanor Abelardo. In their hands, the lyrics became musical poetry, smoothly blending verse and melody and mood in one captivating artistic creation. Later, it was popularized by the sound medium of radio and performed on live stage entertainment.
Scholars and historians believe that the kundiman originated from the Visayas. Who is the father of the Tagalog kundiman? Do you know that kundiman usually were about pagsinta, pangungulila, and panunumpa? Who composed them? Who were the kings and queens of the kundiman? Which songs became tremendously popular? How did it survive the test of time? Which well-loved contemporary songs of today are really kundiman?
Little do we know, it is alive in our contemporary songs for it has become embedded in our cultural DNA.This is because, as Francisco Santiago, the “Father of Filipino Musical Nationalism,” declared in 1931 that the kundiman “is the love song par excellence of the Filipinos, the plaintive song which goes deepest into their hearts, song which brings them untold emotions.”
Written and directed by award-winning and multi-talented theater, film, and television director, writer Dennis Marasigan, “Kung Hindi Man” is a musical feast that is not only entertaining but also informative. Viewers will be delighted to learn about the early beginnings of the genre as well as how it has evolved into the modern pop kundiman that are sung by today’s celebrated performing musical talents.
It has been featuring the world-renowned Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra as well as the cream of the crop among our performing artists. Among them are acclaimed opera singer Arthur Espiritu, accomplished soprano Nerissa De Juan, award-winning Filipino soprano-songwriter Lara Maigue, Awit awardee and top musical theater talent Gian Magdangal, prime balladeer and theater artist Harry Santos, international pianist Mariel Ilusorio, and top pop-rock band Orange & Lemons. Multi-awarded actor Cesar Montano who has embarked on a singing career is slated to perform his award-winning song “ Aking Ama.”
The songs being performed by them range from the traditional kundiman to the more contemporary interpretations of the genre. “Nahan,” “Saan Ka Man Naroroon,” “Magbalik Ka Na, Mahal,” “Mutya ng Pasig,” “Bituing Marikit,” “Panaginip” are just some of the immortal kundiman that will seek to bridge the generational gap among lovers of great music wherever they may be.
Mark “Kung Hindi Man” in your calendar, 6 p.m. every Saturday via the CCP’s OP Facebook page. If you truly love music, you won’t want to miss this weekly musical feast that is now delighting everyone at home, from lolo and lola to the apo sitting side by side in front of their digital TVs at home.