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Maria Carpena and the Kundiman in Laguna

Laguna Tourism, Culture, Arts & Trade Office
November 21,2016
 
     The Provincial Government of Laguna (PGL), through the Laguna Tourism, Culture, Arts and Trade Office (LTCATO), launched the 7th Maria Carpena Kundiman Song Festival on October 27, 2016, 1:00PM at the Cultural Center of Laguna. This is a song competition for Kundiman enthusiasts. 
     The PGL believes that cultural identity is the fundamental source of social empowerment. The musical legacy of our forefathers certainly defines our cultural evolution, articulating the strength of our unity and confidence in harnessing the power of heritage as basis for sustainable economic development. 
     With this in mind, the Kundiman is a genre of traditional Tagalog love songs. It became very popular in Laguna and other Tagalog-speaking provinces at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century. Kundiman is a very sentimental song professing undying love and devotion. The Kundiman, with its penetrating plaintive appeal to the heart, eventually became a vehicle for indirect demand for freedom 
     The Kundiman program is also an activity to honor Maria Carpena, the acknowledged nightingale of the zarzuela. Born on October 22, 1886 in Santa Rosa, she was only 15 when she joined the Gran Comana de Zarzuela Tagala, founded and directed by Don Severino Reyes. She acted the role of the leading lady of the play Minda Mora. An instant success, her voice was recorded by the Victor Recording Company in America in 1908, the first Filipina to have done so. Maria Carpena’s meteoric rise to fame was short-lived. She died on March 8, 1915. She was only 28. A street in Manila was eventually named after her.
     There were two categories for the contest, one for high school students, whose contest piece was  Anak Dalita, and one for senior citizens (60 years old plus) whose contest piece was Nasaan Ka Irog. There were 24 high school contestants and 14 senior citizens. During the intermission, previous Maria Carpena Kundiman winners, Ma. Rovelyn Bautista and Lyra D. Garcia, wooed the crowd with their rendition of Kundiman songs. Likewise, the Pamana Kundiman Singers enthralled the audience with the amazing blending of their voices in singing popular Kundiman music. Also student dancers from the Philippine High School for the Arts regaled the crowd with their Pandanggo sa Ilaw and Curacha de Paoay. 
     First prize Winners were Jean Ariane R. Flores of Marcelino Fule Memorial College, Alaminos for the high school category, and Leodel Moralde, Jr. of Calauan for the seniors’ category.