By Roy Lie Atjam
The theme of the 2022 Independence Day celebration is “Kalayaan 2022: Pagsuong sa Hamon ng Panibagong Bukas” (Rise Towards the Challenge of a New Beginning).
In commemoration of the 124th Anniversary of Philippine Independence, The Embassy of the Philippines organized a piano concert by Dr Victor Santiago Asuncion at the Kalayaan Hall, Chancellery of the Philippines.
The event was well-attended by the members of the diplomatic corps, Ambassadors from: Bangladesh, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Deputy Director General of the OPCW, key officials from the Dutch Government and other international organizations based in The Hague, as well as Filipino-Dutch community leaders, entrepreneurs and artists, among others.
In his welcome remarks, Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya said that “The Filipinos are renowned as a musically inclined people. Through this event, we are pleased to introduce to our Dutch and other friends Filipino music, which also reflects the various traditions that have enriched our Southeast Asian culture, notably Muslim, Spanish, and American.”
The piano recital featured Dr. Victor Santiago Asunción, a renowned Filipino-American pianist based in Chicago, who has performed in concert halls in Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, US, Brussels, and the Philippines.
“It was my first time watching a Filipino performance in this setting. Dr. Asuncion is a very talented musician who showed such intense emotion. He told me that he is going to tour in the Philippines. When I am in Manila, I am sure to watch his performance,” incoming Dutch Ambassador to the Philippines Marielle Geraedts said.
Ambassador Saskia De Lang, former Netherlands Ambassador to the Philippines, said that the concert is “a showcase of Filipino musicality – the pianist and the cellist also enjoyed the music themselves and such is contagious. It reminds me of how much Filipinos live with music as part of their everyday lives. Filipinos love music and they sing very well.”
Dr. Asuncion played well-loved Filipino compositions “Ang Larawan” (The Portrait) by Francisco Buencamino, “Romance” by Lucio San Pedro, “Usahay” (Sometimes) by Gregorio Responso Labja, and “Ano Kaya Ang Kapalaran” (What Would our Fate Be) by Francisco Santiago, and the Dutch composition “Six Variations on Mein Junges Leben Hat Ein end” by JP Sweelinck. He also entertained the audience with the popular songs “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and “Embraceable You”, and concluded with endearing renditions of F. Chopin’s three major works – Nocturne in E flat major Op. 9, No. 2, Etude in E major Op. 10, No. 3 and Fantaisie Impromptu Op. 66.
In his playing of the Filipino compositions, Dr. Asuncion was joined in by Mr. Mikko Pablo, a very gifted young Filipino cellist based in Belgium.
The singing of the Philippine National Anthem “Lupang Hinirang” and The Netherlands’ National Anthem “Wilhelmus” was led by Ms. Mary Ann Morales, a Filipino-Dutch based in The Netherlands, and accompanied on piano by Ambassador Malaya.
Sponsors of the event were the Knights of Rizal-The Hague Chapter, the United Filipino-Dutch Association, and the Andre Kerstens, distributor of the Philippines’ Don Papa Rum and Santa Ana Gin.
“Thanks to Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya and the whole team at the Philippine Embassy in The Netherlands for such a lovely evening of music, elegant food, and fine wine. Congratulations on the successful renovation of the chancery. You have all made us proud to be Filipinos this month while we celebrate our Independence,” Filipino-Dutch artist Charlie Curilan added.
Attended by a hundred guests, the event is the inaugural cultural performance at the Chancery after its first comprehensive renovation work since the property was acquired by the Philippine Government in 1968.
Congratulations to the Philippines.