View From The Wings – La Boheme in Baguio City

by Pablo A. Tariman
Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 18, 2015

If you are the kind who likes exotic setting for opera appreciation, then you should go up to Baguio this weekend (May 24) and watch a chamber music version of Puccini’s La Boheme at 5,000 ft. above sea level at the Hill Station of Casa Vallejo in Baguio City.

Myramae Meneses as Musetta in La Boheme. A revelation as singing actress

Myramae Meneses as Musetta in La Boheme. A revelation as singing actress

Featured chamber group is Viva Voce headed by the wife-and-husband team soprano Camille Lopez Molina and tenor Pablo Molina with soprano Myramae Meneses singing the role of Musetta.

The Viva Voce singers will also be heard a day earlier on May 23 in a free matinee concert, “The Evolution of OPM,” at the University of Baguio Centennial Hall, followed by religious choral singing and solos at the 5 p.m. anticipated Holy Mass at St. Joseph the Worker Church at Pacdal Circle, Baguio.

By now, one knows the feeling of listening to classical music at 5,000 ft. above sea level because the other week, the Manila Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Molina had a well-received sold-out outreach concert at the 100-year old Hill Station at Casa Vallejo and got a rousing standing ovation.

In an evening concert aptly billed as “Bach Vs. The Beatles,” the musical ‘bout’ featured three concertos by Bach and some well-arranged Beatles favorites like Michelle, A Hard Day’s Night, When I am sixty Four and Hey Jude, among others.

The two MSO weekend concerts in Baguio City revealed the orchestra’s stable of good soloists in the persons of violinists Gina Medina Perez, Christian Tan, Sarah Maria Gonzales and cellist John Paolo Anorica, among others.

In the matinee concert, young cello scholar John Paolo Anorico did very well as soloist in the first movement of Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major. His tone was well-defined, his musicality bordered on the natural and there was excellent rapport between him and the orchestra under Arturo Molina.

Tenor Glenn Gaerlan who now heads the University of Baguio Conservatory of Music said the state of music appreciation in Baguio remains fairly good especially among the old timers of the city. “These MSO concerts help local residents get good exposure to classical music. Still we have to educate potential audiences and even more education the local government who doesn’t see music as a big factor in improving the cultural climate in the city. I am planning to run for city councilor to give the arts a face in the local government,” he added.

Viva Voce’s mentor Camille Lopez Molina earlier cited the importance of exposing young people to live concerts. “One of the major difficulties in teaching young singers is the lack of live performances [operas, concerts, recitals] that young singers can watch. Most of their exposure to classical singing they get from YouTube, CDs, pirated DVDs, etc. While we very much appreciate these materials, having them as the singer’s main exposure to the art of classical singing can be very misleading, because they don’t hear the real sound of the great singers they listen to and watch. At most, they only get an idea of the sound. They don’t experience the energy, the physicality, the projection, the presence of those singers. Because of this, many young singers tend to just imitate the sound of their favorite singers regardless of the nature of their own voices, as well as develop the wrong idea of what classical singing is all about.”

The Viva Voce singers lead by soprano Camille Lopez Molina and tenor Pablo Molina. There is  an urgent need to expose young audiences to the voices of classical singers.

The Viva Voce singers lead by soprano Camille Lopez Molina and tenor Pablo Molina. There is an urgent need to expose young audiences to the voices of classical singers.

(The lack of exposure to classical singers resulted in a presidential sister (a member of a jury of a televised singing competition) telling a classical to choose more “appropriate” songs as she cannot figure out what the singer’s high notes are all about. The singer later made waves in Singapore’s “Asia Got Talent” and netizens denounced the Philippine jury’s gross ignorance.)

Well, Baguio will have its share of live classical singers this weekend and I suggest that the organizers invite future jurors of “Pilipinas Got Talent” before they are unmasked as ignoramus by literate music lovers.

For tickets to “La Boheme” at P1,200 each including dinner, or reservations to the dinner concert, email or call Aika in Baguio at (074) 424-2734 or Myla in Manila at (02) 664-4850, or the CAEO at ( 02) 997-9843 or 0920-954-0053.


May 23, 2015 Saturday 2 p.m. at the University of Baguio Centennial Hall
Assumption Road, Baguio City (seats are first come, first served)

Ti Ayat Ti Meysa Nga Ubing (Ilocano folksong arr. Lucrecia Kasilag)
Camille Lopez Molina

Rosas Pandan-Pobreng Alindahaw (Visayan folksong arr. Lucio San Pedro )

Ang Paglalaba (Josefino Cenizal)
Glenda Liao

Caprichosa (Levi Celerio)
Carlo Mañalac
Carlo Falcis

Maalaala Mo Kaya (Constancio de Guzman)
Dahil Sa ‘Yo (Mike Velarde)

WALANG SUGAT – Makikiliti Kang Totoo (Aurelio Tolentino)
Roxy Aldiosa
Carlo Falcis

NOLI ME TANGERE (Felipe Padilla de Leon)

Awit ni Maria Clara
Myramae Meneses

Sa Kabukiran (Manuel Velez)
Myramae Meneses
Iona Ventocilla

Bituing Walang Ningning (Willie Cruz)

Sampatak na Hamog (Lucio San Pedro)
Roby Malubay

Bituing Marikit (Nicanor Abelardo)
Camille Lopez Molina


KATY – Minsang Minahal ay Ako (Ryan Cayabyab)
Roxy Aldiosa

HIMALA – Ang Himala Ay Nasa Puso Ng Tao (Vincent de Jesus)
Glenda Liao
Roxy Aldiosa
Carlo Falcis
Roby Malubay


Anak (Freddie Aguilar)
Paraiso (Ryan Cayabyab)
Isang Mundo, Isang Awit (Nonon Pedero)
Bayan Ko / Pilipinas Kong Mahal

The Baguio concerts were made possible with support from the National Commission on Culture and the Arts, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), the staff of Hill Station at Casa Vallejo, Genesis Transport Service Inc; the Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation; Baguio Writers Group; ICM House of Prayer; Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary and University of Baguio, the Benguet Electric Cooperatives and Don Henrico Pizza Pasta, among others.

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