Augustinians, Zontians play music for charity

IN ONE enchanting Sunday evening, two prominent institutions in Iloilo City banded together to showcase their diverse talents in the service of love.

The University of San Agustin, the first university in Western Visayas, and the Zonta Club of Iloilo City, Inc., an established women organization in the country, pooled their resources in presenting Hinabing Himig, a benefit concert for the Tilipunan Center last Nov 12, 2017 at the USA Auditorium.

A sizable crowd of different ages witnessed the heartwarming and impressive performances of the USA Performing Arts Groups (USA-PAGs) and the Zonta Club of Iloilo. The repertoire included Original Pilipino Music such as Piliin Mo ang Pilipinas and Kruhay, Broadway hits like “Season of Love” (Rent) and “I’d Give My Life for You” (Miss Saigon), and a medley of pop songs and movie soundtracks for the younger set of audience.

Diverse the background of the performers may be, Hinabing Himig brought them together, weaving the voices, music, dance, and acting into an ensemble performance rooted on the passion for culture and the arts.

The USA-PAGs is comprised of the USA Band, the USA Choir and Troubadours, the Kawilihan-USA Dance Troupe, and the USA Little Theater (USALT).

The more than half-a-century old Kawilihan-USA is the official dance group of the University. Under the guidance of its artistic director, Ms. Annie Divinagracia Sartorio, Kawilihan-USA has woven various forms of dance in their repertoire. Last Sunday’s concert, for one, featured the rhythmic and graceful skills of the dance troupe in Tinikling for folk dance and flamenco for modern dance. Over the years, the Kawilihan-USA has reaped major dance awards in the Iloilo Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA), Western Visayas PRISAA, and the III Junior International Delphic Games, among others. Their “heart work” in promoting culture and arts through dance has also been recognized through many citations notably the Ani ng Dangal award from the National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCCA). Ms. Sartorio’s dedication to the field of dance as creative expression has lent prestige to the Kawilihan-USA as she currently sits as an Executive Council Member and concurrent Assistant Secretary for Dance of the NCCA.

Passion for performing on stage is also the driving force behind the more than five-decade old USA Little Theater. During the concert, the cast members wove their hosting and comedic spiels. The free ice cream during the Mamang Sorbetero number entertained the audience, especially the children.

The USALT is a nationally-recognized theater arts group, having been adjudged as one of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations in the country. Under the artistic direction of Mr. Eric C. Divinagracia, it has penned original theater productions on university life, the environment, history, and mental health issues. The USALT holds the distinction as the first theater company to host Tanghal, a flagship project of the NCCA and the largest national theater festival in the Philippines. Mr. Divinagracia’s passion for theater arts has given credence to the University’s vision in affirming Filipino and Ilonggo identity. He currently sits as a member of the Committee on Dramatic Arts of the NCCA.

The blending of voices and music during the concert were provided by the artistic direction of Mr. Arvien Ardonia of the USA Band and Mr. Benny Castillon of the USA Choir and Troubadours. Mr. Ardonia’s overture wove popular Filipino songs featuring a solo saxophone of the band’s interpretation of Anak. Meanwhile, the powerful voices of the Choir and Troubadours filled the auditorium in their rendition of traditional and modern pieces. Their version of Kruhay evoked memories of the history of Panay. The performance was all the more special with the composer, Mr. Castillon himself, conducting the choir. His artistry and musicality wove the voices of the Choir and Troubadours with that of the Zonta Club of Iloilo. The latter’s interpretation of Broadway numbers, such as “I’d Give My Life for You” from Miss Saigon was classic and heartfelt.

In all, the performances lived up to the vision behind the concert, that is, the dream of helping the less fortunate may be achieved through a common love for them. “This is exactly what the giving process entails, the direction for a better future for all as primary focus. Our resources must be sourced out and sustained,” emphasized Ms. Teresita Apistar, President of Zonta Club of Iloilo City, Inc. (2016-2018). Proceeds from the concert were earmarked for the Tilipunan Community Center in the 12 barangays of Tanza, Iloilo City. The center was established by the USA and Zonta Club of Iloilo in 1980 to assist the residents in social welfare, health, education and other concerns. These programs are sustained through activities such as last Sunday’s concert.

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