Monday, July 20, 2009
THE GIFT OF SONG
The Philippines is bountiful with blessings from gorgeous islands, warm and friendly people, the sweetest mangoes, and gifted singers. World-class talent like Lea Salonga, Arnel Pineda (the new lead singer of Journey discovered on You Tube), the young Charice has wowed theatre and television audiences with their voices. But the gift of song is not limited to these famous Filipinos.
Filipinos love to sing. And moving to Singapore has given me the opportunity to reinvent myself. I never considered myself a good singer. Some Filipino friends invited me to join the choir of St. Francis Xavier soon after I arrived. I initially hesitated thinking I’m not good enough a singer. But after attending a mass where the Singaporean lady standing next to me asked if I would be in the same mass the following week. I asked why and she told me she’d love to hear me sing again. I took it as my cue to sing for God in the choir every second and fourth Sundays of the month at St. Ignatius Church.
Practicing before mass, singing at the Eucharist, and then often breaking bread with the choir after mass has been enriching and nourishing. It not only allowed me to joyfully sing, but to also happily belong to a community. In many ways, it made me feel at home. The banter and the humor were familiar. When we practiced in the home of Agnes and indulged in her abundant spread of glorious food (from the lovely spring rolls filled with minced meat and young coconut, to decadent Rum Cake and sticky cinnamon buns), it made us feel like we were in our lola’s (grandmother’s) home. Even if we were not related, we acted like cousins all feasting in our ancestral home, bringing back memories of the grown up table for adults, and the playful kiddie table for the younger ones.
Two nights ago, the St. Francis Xavier choir sang at REST, RHYTHMS & REFLECTIONS: An evening recollection in prayerful song with the Cenacle Sisters. It was an evening celebrating the God’s abundant love, as well as His generous gift of melody and song. (See us singing Spirit Wings from the concert in the attached You Tube video).
Every day I hear Filipino maids here in Singapore belt out to powerful Celine Dion or Whitney Houston songs, or groups of Filipino workers gathering in the botanic garden on a Sunday strumming a guitar, singing and eating their favorite Filipino dishes, or many Filipinos performing in bands in Hard Rock Café or hotels all over Asia. Indeed, we are blessed as a people with the gift of song we can take anywhere we go, and generously share with all who care to listen.