I am a local of Las Piñas City, home of the historic Bamboo Organ, declared a National Cultural Treasure, and so far known to be the only organ made almost entirely of bamboo in the whole world. Having lived in this city for more than 20 years, I am ashamed to admit that I have only listened to the Bamboo Organ a few times, and I have never even been to its yearly International Bamboo Organ Festival – that is, until last night.
After getting bitten by the travel bug, then backpacking around Visayas for seven weeks, and afterwards setting off on both local and overseas adventures, I began to have an appreciation of my humble home. There is indeed truth to the wisdom I gleaned from different travel quotes and inspirational books: travelers take home for granted then set off on adventures far away, only to realize the value of home when they go back – and sometimes, even before that.
As I write this, I am experiencing a distinct joy and thrill unique to an adventurer who has discovered adventure in her own home – and, who has the honor of inviting others to see for themselves the treasure her home has to offer.
And so, without further ado, here is a peek of what I experienced last night:
St. Joseph Parish Church, which houses the Bamboo Organ, looks more festive than usual.
Hanging from up the church are colorful festival banners.
Belgian organist Peter Van de Velde playing lively passages at the Bamboo Organ. It was my first time to hear the Bamboo Organ played by a pro. When I first heard the Bamboo Organ as an adult, it was an almost spiritual experience for me. Now, hearing it played by an acclaimed musician was on a whole different level. I watched and listened to the Bamboo Organ Festival in YouTube videos before, but the experience was nowhere to hearing it live.
Conductor Eudenice Palaruan leads the Las Piñas Boys Choir (left), UP Music Education Chorale (right) and the Manila Symphony Orchestra (left and right) in a spellbinding performance.
The Las Piñas Boys Choir. Their powerful voices took me by surprise.
UP Music Education Chorale
I love the effect of the capiz chandeliers hanging from the church ceiling. Their stems are also made of bamboo, in keeping with the bamboo theme of St. Joseph Parish Church.
During the intermission, I met some friendly Bamboo Organ Festival ushers. I was able to talk to Jean (third from left) for some time, and found that she played the Bamboo Organ as a volunteer during Sunday Mass.
This logo represents a decades-old Bamboo Organ tradition.
The performers rise to take a bow.
View from the top. Guests and media could go up the balcony to have this view after the performance. I also saw some guests had their photos taken with the Bamboo Organ.
A closer view of the Bamboo Organ’s pipes
After the performances, I met and dined with some Las Piñas locals who are Bamboo Organ Foundation members. They give financial contributions to help make the annual Bamboo Organ Festival possible. One of them has been a member for ten years.
Meeting Jean, a volunteer organist and later, Bamboo Organ Foundation members, helped make me see the Bamboo Organ not just as a tourist spot one would occasionally visit, but something part of daily life, and at the same time, a cultural treasure that needs to be protected and maintained.
I will certainly listen to the Bamboo Organ again, festival or not. Why not hear it for yourself, too? =)
Below is the Bamboo Organ Festival schedule for this year. Performances open to the public start tonight. For a more detailed program for each performance night, click here.
(Photo taken from the Bamboo Organ Foundation)