July 14, 2024

If you were to envision internationally representing your country, what would the image look like? For Lasallian members of MusicaLipa, a church choir hailing from Lodlod’s Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Parish, imagination goes beyond the realm of fantasy. 

What started as a mere dream for MusicaLipa’s pioneer members now prevails as a reality for a few of the choir’s newest members: Jezrik Raymund Jugao, Kirsten Sophia De Jesus, Mariel Angela Morada, and Yssa Labrador. 

The vision they once had of bringing their performances to a grander stage manifested itself in the form of their 2023 Korea and Europe tour alongside the City of Voices Chamber Singers. 

A lingering feeling of pride was what they brought home, along with the Gold Diplomas in both the Pop and Acapella Category, and the Classical Mixed and Equal Category. However, it was not just awards that they brought home, but also knowledge and experiences from other cultures that they might not have known of or practiced before.

 

Braving the unfamiliar 

Their success stands as a testament to the hurdles they had to overcome before even flying out of the country, as getting there would not have been possible without the hectic preparations they made as a group.

In an interview with Lavoxa, Jezrik shared that just by looking back on the seemingly unending measures that were taken to make these concerts possible, he found motivation to continue doing his best during the competitions. 

“Ang daming [mga] nahirapan, individually or as a group, [ang dami ng] mga problems na tiniis namin, so nakakatuwa lang na andun na kami sa part na gino-goal pa lang namin dati. It pushes us through, [pati] sa mga next concerts din,” he stated. 

The experience of going abroad, while often depicted by pleasant memories, was also filled with confusion and a series of adjustments. Kirsten explained how important it was for her and her fellow choir members to extend their understanding and patience, especially when finding their way around and communicating with non-English speaking residents of the countries they visited.

Kirsten Sophia De Jesus, member of Musicalipa, highlights the importance of being flexible and comprehensive when interacting with foreign individuals. (J. Tan)

“After a few days, nasanay din kami. Syempre magkakasama [nung mga host families] pag nakain, so mas nabubuhay [‘yung pagkain] nang magkakasama kasi somehow naka-adjust na rin [kami]. Super mahalaga na malawak yung pang-unawa mo, and pati yung patience para mas makasalamuha mo and mas makapag-communicate ng maayos kasama yung host families,” she reasoned.

Host families, the group explained, can be either Filipino or non-Filipino, and are the people who opened their doors wholeheartedly and voluntarily, just so the group could have temporary homes while on their tour.

Yssa agreed with Kirsten, as they shared the same sentiments on the cultural shock they experienced at the time, pointing out on the food that they consumed while in Europe, and how different it was from their normal rice meals. 

“Eventually, naka-adjust nga naman kami, parang natanggap din namin na ‘wala tayo sa Pilipinas, ito yung kakainin natin. Kailangan nating iappreciate yung ihahain sa’tin kahit bago ito sa panlasa natin at paningin’,” she added with fondness, chuckling along occasionally with the rest of the group as she retold the story of how she had come to appreciate how much the food brought her closer to Europe’s culture and practices.

 

Wonders beyond performances

 However, harmonies and awards are not the only remnants of the time they shared together. The small moments and the clueless wandering around places they visited held an irreplaceable figure in their hearts, especially for members whose first experience with competitions and going out of the country were these tours.

Mariel shared that for her, one of the most memorable moments during the tour occurred right after singing their piece for their Tolosa competition in Spain, where she experienced the overwhelming feeling that came with seeing her co-members and her sibling crying out of gratitude. 

Mariel Angela Morada, member of Musicalipa, shares an unforgettable moment from her overwhelming experience in Spain. (J. Tan)

“Meron kasi sa Tolosa na pili lang yung yung members na kakanta. […] Sa vocal group, 16 kami dun. Naging memorable siya sa akin kasi […] pagkatapos naming kumanta, nag-iyakan na lahat. Eh kasama ko rin dun yung kuya ko na bihira ko lang makita na umiyak. Nung nakita ko po siyang umi[i]yak, parang nakakadala kasi grabe, ganun talaga kahalaga sa kanila yung experience namin,” she highlighted.

Behind each international performance, the group also described the warm hospitality they experienced with the host families that accommodated them in their stay in Europe. Jezrik expounded that the bond they formed with these various households was an unexpected turn of events.

“Grabe din yung tiwala sa amin ng mga host families na talagang pinatuloy kami, inalagaan kami, hinahatid pa kami at sinusundo sa mga concert venues sa tuwing may activities kami. To think na ginagawa nila lahat yun for free, [bukal] sa loob na tinulungan nila kami. Just thinking about that pag umaalis kami ng lugar at nagpapaalam sa mga host families namin, [it’s] very emotional and nakakaiyak,” he said.

Jezrik Raymund Jugao, member of Musicalipa, heartfeltly expresses what they experienced during their stay in Europe. (J. Tan)

While looking back at their tour, their excitement and appreciation for the tour grew with every inside joke and meaningful glance that they shared during the interview. Ease naturally came as more seconds of the interview ticked by, with all four students eventually relaxing in their seats more as they spoke and sharing deeper sentiments and humorous anecdotes more frequently with something akin to reverence in their voices.

Undeniably, each moment that led up to the concert and every second that they spent overseas is one that they’ll look back on not only with a sense of pride and accomplishment, but pure joy. For MusicaLipa, this concert was not just a performance, but a core memory for each member.

 

The leap they took from solely performing for the Filipinos to singing in front of bigger, international audiences was one that they described to be full of blessings and unexpected events.

Their awards and experiences serve as a stepping stone to a longer road of sharing their talents and passion through their choir’s chosen purpose.

 

Article by Roy Andal and Mharq Ghierzey Abe

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