The scorching heat did not stop Barangay Ukelele from performing the song “Raining in Manila” by Lola Amour during the 2024 Pasinaya Open House Festival at the front lawn of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on February 4.

The Barangay Ukelele segment is part of Pasinaya and has the youngest participants, mostly not even in their teenage years, who comprise the majority of the over 200 ukulele artists.

Aside from Raining in Manila (which was ironically played during a very hot afternoon), they played other songs like 214 by Rivermaya, Akin Ka Na Lang by Itchyworms, Pasilyo by Sunkissed Lola, and Uhaw by Dilaw.

Ukulele is perhaps the happiest instrument on earth, as people of various ages and statures are drawn to its sound for its light, fun, and laidback vibe, which is enough to soothe the soul.

As a social instrument,  enthusiast groups have jamming and beginners’ tutorial sessions in public parks, schools, and picnic grounds.

As many young people are hooked on social media, Pasinaya is a better alternative to using musical public performances as a useful tool for promoting a child’s physical, emotional, and social development.

The Barangay Ukelele jamming session is always a crowd-drawer, including the parents of the young musicians.

Mostly known for its Hawaiian influence, a ukulele is a pineapple-shaped instrument consisting of usually four nylon or gut strings. Its small size does not make it inferior to larger stringed instruments. The word ukulele roughly translates as “jumping flea” because of the movement of the player’s fingers.

Some of the key factors to consider when looking for a ukelele include size, material, and price.

Ukuleles come in four sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. Although each ukulele size also has a distinct tone, the sizes are not made to grow with the size of the player, unlike fractional-sized guitars.

Ukuleles can be made from various materials, including wood, plastic, and metal. Wood is the most popular choice and can give the ukulele a warm, rich tone. Plastic and metal ukuleles are more durable and affordable, but they can have a more muted sound.

Another version of “Raining in Manila” was performed by Banda Kawayan Pilipinas, which is an orchestra that uses musical instruments made from bamboo and other indigenous materials, such as the marimba, angklung, panpipes,  kalagong, kalatok, kalamor, kalabong, bumbong, and kiskis.

Bamboo’s natural hollow form makes it a good choice for many traditional instruments because of its excellent sound properties.

Banda Kawayan  also played “Wind of Change”, ” Zirkus Renz”, “Czardas”, and  “Awit ng Barkada”.

Established in 1973, the band plays well-loved kundimans, folk songs and classical hymns to contemporary jazz pieces, pop songs, and all-time hits. The group showcase pieces that touched the audience’s heartstrings, reflected their passion of music and displayed the versatility of Filipino music.

One of the Filipino instrument closest to a ukelele is the kudyapi or kutiyapi which is a two-stringed wooden lute  that  is native to the Lumads in Mindanao, namely Manobo, T’boli, Maguindanao, and Maranao.

 Approximately 4 to 6 feet long, the kudyapi is made out of a single piece of wood  while the strings are made of horse hair, abaca fibers and recently wire.

This instrument is played by men while singing love songs. A female version is called a Korlong.

“Pasinaya” means an inauguration or a grand opening of the many arts and cultural presentations offered by CCP.

Since 2004, Pasinaya  also aims  to provide a platform for artists and cultural groups  from different fields such as music, theater, dance, spoken word, and visual arts. It seeks  to showcase  talents while nurturing the broadest public and creating new audiences through interactions and performances.

With the “experience-all-you-can, pay-what-you-can” scheme, the largest multi-arts festival in the country once again filled various  venues of CCP such as the Front Lawn, Liwasang Kalikasan, Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez and its surroundings, and the parade ground of Vicente Sotto Street from February 3 and 4, 2024.

The theatres inside the CCP were not used due to  the closing of the  iconic 54-year-old main building  for a three-year renovation project.

This year’s   theme  is “Sulong” which CCP artistic director Dennis Marasigan explained: “The CCP will always find ways to provide spaces for our artists and cultural groups where they can showcase their talents and create new audiences who will participate in artmaking and appreciate the best that the Philippines has to offer.”

Pasinaya  returned  onsite last year after being cancelled as a face to face gathering for  three years because of the COVID19  pandemic.

In Manila alone, at least 3000 artists from different art fields participated in the various performances  with more than 45,000 audience. There were also offsite activities in Iloilo city and Tagum City.

(Peyups is the moniker of University of the Philippines. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail, or call 0917-5025808 or 0908-8665786.)

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