Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Song of the Violin - Song of Peace to the World

San Vicente (Ilocos Sur) to the World Series
 On the occasion of the 50th Wedding Anniversary of 
Mr Candido and Mrs Socorro Raquepo, November 30, 2017

By Dr Abe V Rotor

Once an old man asked his son what is the most memorable occasion they were together as father and son. Guess what? Graduation? Birthday? On winning a trophy? Going to Disneyland?

None of these. 

The son answered, his eyes moist with happiness. “Remember Dad, when we went camping and caught fireflies that lighted our way back to our camp. Then we released our fireflies, one by one, carrying our personal wishes to the stars.”

If you were to ask me what is the most memorable occasion Manong Dido and I had in our childhood, I would tell you proudly - when we played the violin together, he being my teacher and I, his ardent student. When I had learned enough we played the violin together during the Misa de Gallo with Maestro Selmo Pelayre as organizer and conductor, and Manang Hering, Manang Dido’s elder sister, as head of the Choral group.

Family and relatives pose with the couple; author and Mrs Cecille Rotor (third and fourth from right, respectively)  

How solemn, how holy - we felt as if Heaven descended to earth with the Holy Infant in our midst. If only boyhood is forever! And Christmas is anytime of the year.

But the violin carried us to our dreams and aspirations, and to places to where childhood had to end, to where the world opens, to where man in his own capacity must conquer the world and say at the end “I made it!” “Eureka! Eureka! (I found it. I found it! Planned or by Providence you are there and wonder what lies farther?)

But there is a mystery here, beyond man’s understanding. Why life begins at 40 or 60 or even 100? Why love is sweeter after 50 years of marriage? Why the fruits of labor do not hang on trees? Why the family is more important than a global village? Why stars shine and take us away?

Manong Dido has reached the stars figuratively. The music of the violin still rings, soulful and beautiful, plaintive it may be, and this is the essence of William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence, realizing that n one’s lifetime, that he can achieve a minuscule of a larger world. To quote 

“To see the world in a grain of sand
     And a Heaven a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand ,
     And eternity in an hour.”

Maybe you would like to know why the courtesies. I call Manong Dido in deference to age gap, small as it may. I called his parents uncle and auntie, and his sisters and brothers just like my own. We are natives of a small town. Under the Spanish nomenclature system, families were systematically grouped alphabetically by municipality. T for Sto Domingo, P in Bantay, B in Santa, Q in Caoayan, R in San Vicente and neighboring Sta Catalina. Remnants of this system can be traced today. In San Vicente: Raquepo. Rotor, Ruelos, Rimban, Ringpis, Remular, and such long names as Rentiquiano, Rigusira, (Rambo? no.)

Baroque architecture  17th century Parish Church of San Vicente, its twin towers with the same height of the facade. 

San Vicente is three kilometers west of Vigan the capital of Ilocos Sur, the site of the historic Basi Revolt of 1907, and Diego Silang heroic campaign for Independence much ahead of the Philippine Revolution. It was also the northernmost site of battle during the Second World War.

Manong Dido and Manang Socorro and I, belong to the peace time generation, following the war generation of our parents. Our children belong to the millennial generation, and our grandchildren in cyber age, transitory to a third planetary evolution called noosphere, aptly described as “a world sheathed with one mind.”
Which has started with Social Media.

Time has not only changed. Change itself has “changed in terms culture, technology, economics, and travel and fashion.” In short, history has accelerated in geometric progression that in the three generations we are living in, we have witnessed, and are witnessing more discoveries than all the discoveries put together since ancient times. We seem to be blessed with a kind of freedom heretofore unknown. The question is that, is this what man is truly aspiring for?

Manong Dido and I, so with our respective families and acquaintances, are products of this unprecedented thrust. We left town in pursuit of career and family, opportunities for us and our children, knowledge more than we needed, entertainment we found not always wholesome, travel we might as well contend with in armchair travelogue.

But what is it that we have missed in all the 60 years or so, of our lives?

Sixty long years – three times longer that the legendary Rip Van Winkle had slept and on waking up found himself stranger to the world as the world saw him a stranger as well.

As a retired member of the academe I could not help but put myself into serious thoughts into that period of quiescence, when things appeared normal, when the world was calm, as still as doldrums on the sea.

· How little time for us is left in our sunset years to digest into proper understanding and perspective the changes the world has undergone - from the founding of agriculture to industrial age to postmodernism;

· How little do we realize lessons in history from Gibbon’s study on the rise and fall of a dozen empires, culminating with the Greco-Roman civilization, after which the world plunged into the Dark Ages;

· How little do we know of the Renaissance that brought back rationality of civilization, but which later, began to lose its essence is our prodigious ways we describe as The Good Life;

· How little do we know of the Cold War which lasted for nearly half a century until 1989, yet undeniably continues to haunt the world not only with Malthusian prophesy, but not-so-remote global Armageddon;

· How little do we know that globalization is also acculturation, destroying the diversity of cultures, which are vital in the evolution and stability of mankind;

· How little do we know that the Good Life is wanting of its element of sustainability, that what we enjoy today may be the antithesis of the conditions we claim to be our legacy to our children and children’s children;

· How little do we know of the selfishness of our genes within a short period of succession, leaving them at the mercy of randomization beyond any trace thereafter;

· How little do we know of the inner stirrings of our world’s leaders, behind the cloak of self-image, as invincible to a syndrome of self-destruction as the world had experienced in two world wars, and major conflicts;

· How little do we know in our sunset years what sunrise will bring to our children and children’s children, but we know of the inevitable fate of all organisms on earth that no species is permanent;

I go back to the song of the violin. It is not only music that it creates, it conveys the thoughts, feelings and soul of the player. And playing not only himself, but to the world.

1. It is Vivaldi’s violin that brings into our living room the four seasons at any time of the year;

2. It is Beethoven’s symphony he wrote for Napoleon, whom he revered so much, but at the end, changed his dedication to the French people; 

3. It is the violin which mimics the sound of Nature - lambs, stream flowing, cows on the meadow, and the distant thunder, all put into one beautiful composition - Pastoral;

4. It is the violin that accompanies perfectly the song of the Nightingale, the masterpiece of Andrei Riel, which he adapted from Tosselli’s Serenade;

This is the violin I played with Manang Dido in my elementary and high school days. It's a 1776 Guadagnini violin made in Czechoslovakia.  I still play on it today with my children and grandchildren. 

5. It is the violin with organ accompaniment that literally brings down God, his saints and angels in Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel.
6. It is the violin that gives the peak of ascendancy in the world’s greatest Alleluia chorus by Handel. 

7. It is the violin that captures the ultimate in musical dexterity of Paganini; and the sensual appeal in Ravel’s Bolero. 

Stradivarius violin: front and profile views.  Hand crafted by the genius himself Stradivarius violin is the most treasured and expensive violin in the world. It is also the most imitated - but never equaled.  Less than a dozen of the original exist today. 

8. It is our own Redentor Romero’s playing the violin that brought pride to the Philippines while conducting the world’s famous Philharmonic Orchestra.

9. It is also our own Kabayao who translated with the violin Filipino compositions into immortal classics.

10. It is Requiem Mozart wrote for a strange visitor in the night who never returned, and at Mozart’s death the music became his own requiem;

I could go on with my recitation. I stopped when finally I found residence in old age in my hometown San Vicente. I tried to find a Manong Dido. I looked for Bading and his father composer Maestro Selmo. I searched for the Rosals, and Navarettes who belong to a rare breed of musicians. They are nowhere to be found.

And here I find Manong Dido. It is Providence. Maybe the music of the violin will be played again when the world comes to a standstill when people have realized the greatest treasures is after all the stillness of life itself. ~

No comments: