San Pedro’s works resonate with the same vision and theme, which music critics describe as “creative nationalism.” If Botong articulated the visual language of what a Filipino is, San Pedro’s achievement lies on threading and echoing the Voice of Filipino Soul.
One can find this in his works such as Malakas at Maganda Overture, Prelude and Fugue in D minor, Hope and Ambition; choral music such as Easter Cantata, Sa Mahal Kong Bayan, Rizal’s Valedictory Poem; vocal music “Lulay,” “In the Silence of the Night”; band music like “Dance of the Fairies,” ‘Triumphal March,” “Lahing Kayumanggi,” “Angononian March,” and most of all, his famous ode and lullaby “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan.”
Apart from being tribute to mothers, “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” metaphorically presents the deep-seated melancholy of a new-born child/nation longing for his/her motherland embedded in the post-war and colonial realities. San Pedro wrote the melody in 1943 which he planned to submit in a music competition sponsored by the Japanese government. The lyrics, though, accentuate the social allegory. As San Pedro had admitted, Celerio instantly wrote the lyrics in 1947 when the former, after studying at Juilliard School in New York, accidentally met the latter in Honolulu, Hawaii and collaborated on the work while their ship sailed along the Pacific Ocean back to Manila.
The greatness of Botong and San Pedro becomes doubly admiring because their feet remained on the ground even after they had achieved iconic status. They mirrored and represented a generation of Angono whose parents – despite being fishermen, farmers and duck raisers – were trained and disciplined to value the meaning of familial virtues, sacrifice, hard work, education, faith in God, and social responsibility.
A number of stories have been told on how they admiringly get along with common townsfolk during the feasts of St. Clement and San Isidro Labrador, their voluntary and religious works, their associations with their friends during school programs, civic works and even “panigang” (collective dining using only bare hands and with sinigang as main dish), and their unfaltering commitment to train young generation of Angono artists for posterity.
Even in their death, Botong and San Pedro chose to be buried at a public cemetery in their hometown, despite being entitled as National Artists to have a space at the elite and spacious Libingan ng mga Bayani. They loved Angono very much because it was Angono that defined them – simple artists whose works have drawn local and international recognition and inspired young generation of artists in Angono and nationwide.
The tribute started with a mass at the Angono Catholic Cemetery where Botong and San Pedro laid side by side. After the mass and flower offering, municipal employees paraded with higante (giant papier mache) images of Botong and San Pedro dancing and leading the leisurely walk, which was punctuated by marching songs of Angono Concert Band.
In the afternoon, a music concert was held at the municipal grounds featuring Angono Music Wizard headed by Ms. Joy Vocalan-Cruz, Angono Youth Symphony Orchestra of Prof. Delfin Calderon and Angono National Symphonic Band of Prof. Gabby San Pedro Rojas, grandson of the national artist. A poetry recital by this writer and Tata Raul Funilas preceded the concert.
The showing of documentary films on the lives and art of Botong and San Pedro as well as Gerry de Leon’s classic film “Noli Me Tangere,” which Botong designed the production, capped the evening program.
GLOBE partially sponsored the program by holding videoke singing contest and handing out cellular phones to winners of the Botong and San Pedro Portrait Awards and lucky audience during the film showing.
Meanwhile, below are the two sonnets of Funilas and this writer, respectively, which praise and honor the life and art of the two national artists.
Soneto kay Botong
Sa pukas ng isang bayang pinagpala
May batang tahimik balana’y humanga
Sa idinudrowing ng patpat sa lupa.
Hanggang lumaki’y tinanghal, dinakila.
Isang simpleng taong laging nakangiti
Habang nagpipintang kabigha-bighaning
Sanlibong tanawin sa gubat, Koleke’t
Sa lawang Lagunang isda’y sari-sari.
Ang kanyang naiwa’y isa ng alamat
Sa bayang Angono at sa Filipinas
Minanang may dangal naming sintang anak
Na tinatalunto’y ang naiwang bakas.
Ay! Botong Francisco iba ka sa lahat,
Dahil ang haplos mo’y hindi magwawakas.
Oyayi sa Paghimbing ng Maestro Lucio San Pedro
“Ngayong Malaya ka na sa Dulong Silangan, lalo pang tumatamis wika mo at kundiman.”
-Maestro Lucio San Pedro, “Lahing Kayumanggi”
Ibinandila niya tayo sa sining
Sa buong ikot ng nakaraang siglo;
Kumumpas ng palakpak ang kanyang galing
Angono’y taas-noo sa buong mundo.
Datíng ang hinayang, nag-iwan ng sakit;
Lagdang “Deo Gratias” sa ati’y gumawi.
Ngunit dapat bang matuliro ang bait,
magsentimyento at maglunoy sa sawi?
Singlawak ng lawa ang yakap sa hamon:
Ingatan at pahalagahan nang lubos;
Bungkalin ang yamang bukal ng panahong
Walang katuyuan at ‘di mauubos.
Gintong ambag mo’y may kinang sa hinagap
Sa mga bunsong obra’y muling kikislap.
Contributed to (Bulatlat.com)