A New Album Featuring National Artists' Works Has Just Been Released

Here's where you can listen to it.

On the 50th anniversary of the Order of the National Artists, a new album combining the music, lyrics, and arrangements by National Artists for Music and National Artists for Literature has come out. ALPAS: Awit at Letra ng mga Pambansang Alagad ng Sining showcases the great collaborations in modern Philippine culture.

Produced by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), through the Sentro Rizal, launched ALPAS as a way to celebrate National Artists' masterpieces by transforming them into musical compositions. The NCCA partnered with the Philippine Madrigal Singers (MADZ) for the renditions. The repository should have listeners rediscovering literature and music in a renewed light.

"Ang proyektong ito, para sa akin, ay landmark. Kasi kaming mga National Artists, sabik na sabik kaming mapakinggan at mapanood at makita ng madlang Pilipino," said National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario. "Marami sa ating National Artists hanggang ngayon ay hindi nakikilala ng bayan."

Known by his pen name "Rio Alma," Almario pointed out the significance of artistic partnerships in pushing culture forward.

"Ang isang bagay na naipapakita natin dito ay ang colaborasyon ng mga National Artist. Ito ay isang bagay na hindi napapansin ng lahat. Ang mga artists mismo, pati na rin ang mga National Artists, ay matagal nang gumagawa ng mga collaborasyon. Mas lumalakas. Ang literatura ay nagkakaroon ng bagong vision o bagong paraan ng pag-appreciate dahil sa musikang naibigay ng mga National Artist."


Get to Know All the National Artists of the Philippines

Rhapsody in C

With tracks like "Restless," "Payapang Daigdig," "Paraiso," and more, the album will feature 12 songs, including those from National Artists Francisco Feliciano, Lucresia Kasilag, Ryan Cayabyab, Bienvenido Lumbera, and Felipe De Leon, among others.


Stories Behind Some Songs

"Restless" was written by National Artist for Music Francisco Feliciano and is dedicated to National Artist for Music and MADZ Founding Choirmaster Andrea Veneracion. It embodies the spirit of wandering and a deep, profound sense of desolation.

In the case of "Alitaptap," which is a composition by Josefino Chino Toledo that used a text based on a poem by National Artist for Theater and Literature Rolando Tinio, it was originally commissioned by the University of the Philippines Singing Ambassadors. It uses various sounds from indigenous communities, including a soloist chant.

Meanwhile, "Hatinggabi," written by National Artist for Music and Literature Levi Celerio and composed by National Artist for Music Antonio Molina, portrays a particular type of pain in the quest for love and nostalgia. The medley from Noli Me Tangere (The Musical!), on the other hand, was created by titans of literature and music Bienvenido Lumbera and Ryan Cayabyab.

Cayabyab also penned "Paraiso," a song originally performed by Smokey Mountain, a group founded by the maestro himself. The piece puts environmental protection and preservation at the heart of it. As for Almario, he is credited for the song, "Sambayan," which is a declaration of a dignified and unified Filipino people. The arrangement with accompanied choir is created by Josefino Toledo.

We can expect to hear a lot of kundimans in the album. Rio Alma noted the significance of kundimans in today's age, as well.

"Ang kundiman ay tunay na, noong araw, ay ginagamit para sa mga damdaming makabayan. Hindi lang para ito sa isang babae kundi para sa bayan. Kaya kapag mayroon tayong pag-aaral sa ating musika, makikita natin ang ating kultura kasabay ng gulo, ng himutok," he claimed.

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Listen to ALPAS on Spotify now.

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Bryle B. Suralta
Assistant Section Editor
Bryle B. Suralta is the assistant section editor of Esquire Philippines.
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