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PPO plays pop and disco in Iloilo

Senator Franklin Drilon delivers his welcome remarks with the orchestra in the background. JOSEPH VIDAL

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) returned to Iloilo City after 22 years with a concert at the Iloilo Convention Center, March 2.

The PPO outreach program included pop and disco music that came as a mild shock to the city’s seasoned music lovers. But the audience cheered and stomped their feet just as they applauded the classical program.

Under the baton of Herminigildo Ranera, the PPO was given a standing ovation.


“This is PPO’s first visit to Iloilo after 22 years,” said Sen. Franklin Drilon who welcomed the 3,500 guests.

After delighting the audience with Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” PPO continued with a Frank Sinatra and “Phantom of the Opera” medleys.

When PPO played 1970s hit band VST and Co.’s “Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko,”  the concert turned into one big, fiery disco evening.

For ordinary music lovers

“We need to connect with the ordinary music lover,” said Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) president Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso.

He explained to Iloilo musicians Gilopez and Corazon Kabayao that the PPO’s popular repertoire was meant to showcase its symphonic sound. “We do it two ways—we bring people to the CCP and we bring CCP to the people.”

The Kabayaos said a symphony orchestra must play Bach and Beethoven to be worthy of its name. “Any rock band can play those pieces and, besides, live classical music is rarely heard in Iloilo. Why bring something heard every day on radio and television? With good programming, popular and classical music can coexist in one concert.”

The CCP president promised the Kabayaos the PPO would come back with a more balanced program.


It might be noted that violinist Kabayao won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for bringing classical music to people in the countryside.

 Meanwhile, Senator Drilon said he had don the cultural impresario’s hat starting last year to bring the Manila Symphony Orchestra to Iloilo.

“With so many things to coordinate and with so many sponsors to tap to make these events happen, it’s no joke to bring in a symphony orchestra with so many musicians to transport and to feed,” said Drilon. “But ending as it did with wide audience acceptance, last year’s MSO concert only made me realize that Ilonggos are so hungry for good symphonic music.”

Visual arts showcase

Meanwhile, the Iloilo Museum for Contemporary Art (Ilomoca) was inaugurated last March 17.

Ilomoca is said to be the first art institution in the Visayas and Mindanao exclusively dedicated to showcasing the works of Ilonggo visual artists.

Kevin Tan of Megaworld said that through the project, “we are reinforcing our role in preservation and promotion of Ilonggo arts, culture and history.”

Also becoming visible in the city’s arts scene is the association of Ilonggo artists under the guidance of Rock Drilon. “The Ilonggo artist is passion-driven, and his outlook sets him apart from other artists. What is good now is that they help each other connect with Iloilo arts patrons,” said Drilon, who joined his fellow Ilonggo artists in an informal talk with the media at FitStop Bites and Bikes Gallery.

Present in the forum were artists Liby Limoso, Arel Zambarrano, Jai Javier, Norman Acedera, Tyrone Dave Espinosa and Kristoffer Brasileno. —CONTRIBUTED

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