Phl Embassy in KL Kicks-Off Ph Independence Day Celebrations Overseas

31 May 2016—The Philippine Independence Day receptions traditionally hosted by Philippine Embassies and Filipino community organizations overseas had a rousing start in Kuala Lumpur with the performances of leading Filipino opera singers from Manila.

The diplomatic reception cum musical extravaganza on May 24 at the Shangri-La Hotel in Kuala Lumpur was headlined by soprano Rachelle Gerodias, one of the Philippines' most sought after opera singers. She wowed the 450 or so guests with her stellar rendition of Manuel Velez' "Sa Kabukiran"' and Puccini's "O mio babbino caro."

Philippine national day receptions are generally scheduled on or near June 12, but the reception in Kuala Lumpur was held earlier in deference to the observance of the holy month of Ramadan, which will commence on June 5 or 6, depending on the moon's sighting.

Together with bass baritone Andrew Fernando, Korean baritone Byeong In Park and the RSVP Trio—composed of flutist Roberto Tarang, violinist Maria Liza Lopez-Tarang and pianist Ledda Rosenberger, Ms. Gerodias regaled the crowds composed of the diplomatic corps, Malaysian Government officials, businessmen, artists and Filipino community members with a musical mini-concert covering songs from opera, Filipino kundiman and Broadway.

Malaysian Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili was the event's guest of honor.

Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J. Eduardo Malaya cited the long-standing partnership and warm friendship between Malaysian and Filipinos.

"We are pleased to see the growing two-way trade and investment flows between our business communities, as well as robust people-to-people engagements through tourism and cultural exchanges. We are also grateful for Malaysia's facilitation of the peace process in Mindanao," the Ambassador said in his remarks.

"As have been our practice in recent years, my Embassy team has always strived to add a cultural component to our national day receptions. Last year, we featured fashion, two years ago – dance with the Bayanihan Philippine National Dance Company, and choral singing with the University of the Philippines Concert Chorus three years ago. This time, we feature music. After all Filipinos are much renowned for music," he added.

Mr. Fernando sang "Di provenza il mar" from Verdi's La Triviata and Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Some Enchanted Evening." Accompanying him on the piano in singing "Di provenza il mar" was the Embassy's Consul General Maria Antonina Mendoza-Oblena.

For his part, Mr. Park sang "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's The Barber of Seville. A highly accomplished singer himself, he is the better half of Ms. Gerodias.

A guest performer at the event was noted Malaysian pianist Kok Kee Boon who accompanied Ms. Gerodias and Mr. Park in singing Puccini's and Rossini's arias, respectively.

A duet by Ms. Gerodias and Fernando of the popular ballad 'Anak' by Freddie Aguilar, with Bahasa lines interspersed with the Filipino original lyrics, brought smiles from the crowd.

Many in the audience were surprised when Ambassador Malaya was called on stage to accompany on the piano Ms. Gerodias and Mr. Fernando in singing Andrew Lloyd Weber's "All I Ask of You." The Ambassador gamely played on.

Filipino food was also on display, with pancit bihon, chicken adobo, beef caldereta, lechong manok and turon delectably prepared by the chefs of Shangri-La Hotel. Mama Sita provided the sauces and condiments for these dishes.

National Day receptions are often straight-forward events, with brief speeches, ceremonial toast and then dinner. With classical music, Embassy oficials gave it a Filipino twist.

The event was made possible through the support of AirAsia, Smart Pinoy/PLDT Malaysia, Pag-Ibig Housing Fund, Mama Sita food flavoring, Mama Tina and San Miguel Corporation. END