Pagdasig: The MADZ Mindanao and its Recurring Quest to Significantly Alter Lives

MANILA, Philippines—Even as they finish the last leg of their Mindanao Outreach Tour 2022, aptly billed Pagdasig, a Visayan word that means to inspire, Brimming Singers, the resident choral group of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), continues to touch and inspire lives through singing.

Images courtesy of CCP

Having been on the road since November 25, the MADZ has given outreach concerts in Koronadal City-South Cotabato (Nov. 26), Davao City (Nov. 30), Tagum City (Dec. 01), Sibagat-Agusan del Sur (Dec. 03), Marawi City (Dec. 07) and Pagadian City (Dec. 09).  Led by Choirmaster Mark Anthony Carpio, the MADz resumed their touring program (under the banner title “Banaag”) after two and a half years of not being able to hold face to face concerts and travel due to the pandemic.  

They started their 2022 tours in Luzon and proceeded to Visayas.  The Mindanao leg was supported by the CCP through its Cultural Exchange Department (CED) and its network of Kaisa sa Sining regional arts centers, local government units and non-government organizations.

Images courtesy of CCP

Pagdasig aims to inspire people and communities in Mindanao who have experienced varied difficulties in life due to the pandemic.  The musical pieces were specifically chosen by Carpio to bring the audiences in a hopeful and encouraging mood.  Pagdasig covered thirteen (13) cities/municipalities in Mindanao to include Koronadal, Lake Sebu, Gen. Santos, Tacurong, Davao, Tagum, Sibagat-Agusan del Sur, Malaybalay, Cagayan de Oro, Marawi, Iligan, Pagadian and Lapuyan-Zamboanga del Sur.  

The MADz singers themselves got inspired too from the outreach tour as each one of them needed to revitalize their creative energies, hone further their musicality and achieve a sense of fulfillment by singing together again, supporting and comforting each other in those “chairs” arranged in a semicircle.  

Founded by National Artist for Music Andrea O. Veneracion 59 years ago, the MADz is fortunate to have visited hundreds of local communities around the country for over five decades and all throughout their journey to various provinces and regions.  “We witnessed how music warms the hearts and feeds the soul with serenity and hope.  Life changing experiences happen in musical encounters especially those that fulfill a dream, a mission,” Carpio narrates.

Images courtesy of CCP

The MADz outreach tour reignites my passion to sing with the Madz, mas nakakaganang magbahagi ng sarili, talento at oras.  It helps me see and appreciate the beauty of our country, inspires me to share what I learn to my students and even my friends and family.  Ang ganda-ganda ng Pilipinas!”  -Jeannie Lynne D. Tolentino, alto

“Being with the Madz, it was instilled in us that we are all part of a mission. We are here to bring messages of hope, love, and peace.  When we sing our songs, we converse with people.  We bring them comfort.  We tell them, “We are here for you.”   As a singer, it is empowering to be with the Madz knowing that with every song, city, audience, and workshop, we are all bringing them together through music.  The workshops we’ve taught in have also inspired me to share my talents more and what I’ve learned so far.  A priest reminded us recently that our talents were not given to us to be kept for ourselves, but to be shared.  When we share more of what we have, there are a lot of beautiful possibilities.”  -Danielle Fanlo, soprano

The opportunities to impart knowledge from my formal studies and my experiences in this outreach tour through the workshops have been helpful in both my growth as a performer and as a person.  It is revitalizing to finally be able to go on tour and perform together again.  Aside from the experience of teaching and sharing knowledge with others, we also learn how to sing better together as a group.  The Madz Outreach tour has been beneficial in sharing the dream of a singing Philippines as it brings and nurtures people’s passion and love for music and singing.  Moreover, the Madz also learn from this experience and become better musicians and people in the process.”  -Zadkiel John S. Yarcia, baritone

Images courtesy of CCP

As individual singers, outreach tours allow us to develop a sense of responsibility, discipline, and independence. With only ourselves (and our luggages) and away from our homes, we learn and improve our ways of dealing with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, most especially in meeting new people from different walks of life.  As a choir, we learn the value of teamwork to achieve our goals; respect for each other’s time and space; and trust everyone’s contribution for the betterment of the group. Ultimately, we learn the value of gratitude in every person that we meet, in every place that we visit—in every waking moment.”  -Erwin Flores, bass

Aside from the concerts, the MADz also conducted workshops for local choirs in seven (7) sites:  Koronadal, Gen. Santos, Davao, Tagum, Sibagat, Iligan and Pagadian, which made their outreach tour even more meaningful as the MADz continue to fullfill the vision of Prof. Veneracion = a singing Philippines united and singing in harmony and peace.  

The music for transformation activities and cultural immersions specifically the mini-concerts offered for the Philippine Army soldiers in Marawi City and Lanao del Norte, the interactions with the Tagolwanen women weavers of Bukidnon, the Tbolis of Lake Sebu and the Iranuns of Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur are humbling experiences for the MADz that they will treasure for the rest of their lives.

“A better understanding and appreciation of our country, our culture and our people are the most important impact of our outreach tours.  The MADz eyes and minds are opened to a lot of valuable things.  It teaches us to love what we have and gives us the opportunity to understand and acknowledge our sense of identity and pride as Filipinos.  Lifelong relationships and connections with our fellow Filipinos indifferent regions are established.  It helps reinforce a sense of community among us.  Lastly, it also gives us the opportunity to share this beautiful gift of music that was given to us and use it to help make this world a much better place to live in.” -Perlita Reyes, alto, company manager

Images courtesy of CCP

“Our one big dream is to finally build the Madz Choral Art and Music Performance Center (MADz CAMP) and we can only fulfill this dream with the generous support of our fellow music lovers, patrons and big dreamers as well,” Alfred Samonte, MADz Executive Director, shares.  “The outreach tours will certainly contribute to making the MADZ CAMP a joyful reality soon, one that will give genuine service and inspiration to Filipinos and other nations.”

I had the privilege of managing the MADz local and international tours since the late 1980s with Prof. Veneracion who I fondly call “Tita Andy”.  Since then, I have seen several generations of MADz singers, many of them have become longtime friends and colleagues up to this day.  The impact of the MADz music in the communities we visited before and up to now remains unique and impressive.  The songs are arranged and performed brilliantly for the MADz style of musicality which the audience instantly relate to and respond enthusiastically.  Every tour brings a touching, inspiring, and heartwarming experience!” shared by CCP Cultural Exchange Department Manager, Chinggay Jasareno-Bernardo.

Images courtesy of CCP

The MADz and the CCP Cultural Exchange Department are grateful to the following local organizers whose support and very warm hospitality have made Pagdasig a huge success: Marbel Youth Choir / City Govt. of Koronadal / Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Colleges Gen. Santos City / City Govt. of Tacurong / Davao City / Musikahan sa Tagum Found. Inc. / Tagum City Council of Women / Local Govt. of Sibagat-Agusan del Sur / Monastery of Transfiguration through Dom Martin, Malaybalay-Bukidnon / Delsa Mortola of Cagayan de Oro / Prof. Cecile Mambuay of MSU-Marawi / Philippine Arm.y – 103 Brigade Marawi City and 2nd Mechanized Brigade Lanao del Norte / La Salle Academy-Iligan City / Crystal Gale Riza of the Octava Choral Society-MSU-IIT / Arlem Abanes of MSU-IIT / Renefe Tremedal, Gauden Sireg and the Dumendingan Arts Guild Inc. / Provincial Govt. of Zamboanga del Sur / Boys Scouts of the Philippines Zamboanga del Sur Chapter/ and the School of Living Tradition in Labangan, ZDS led by Bai Tarhata.

In response to the phenomenal success of the Mindanao tour and numerous requests, Pagdasig will make a second trip to the Southern Philippines in 2023 to visit additional audiences and towns.