Saint Pedro Calungsod, of course, belongs not just to Cebu but to the Philippines. The same can be said of San Lorenzo Ruiz of Binondo, Manila.
St. Pedro, however, is also Visayan. He reportedly came from Cebu, and understandably the Cebuanos are very proud of him. And that is why the new chapel at the rising SM Seaside Complex in Cebu City has been renamed after our second saint.
The big imposing chapel, built by SM Cebu, has a striking retablo (altarpiece) with an abstract, rectangular column forming a pyramid shape. Mother Mary and St. Joseph are on both sides, with the Crucified Lord above.
The chapel was the venue of the recent concert “Faith & Music: Glorious Gifts,” organized by Marissa N. Fernan, VP of SM Prime Holdings Inc. (responsible for the Visayas and Mindanao) and Arts Council of Cebu.
The concert was a musical tribute to St. Pedro, in thanksgiving for his canonization, and also a fundraising event for the new Cebu Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) led by Reynaldo Abellana.
Soloists were celebrated pianist Ingrid Sala-Santamaria; soprano Rhea May Sadaya; and young violinists Gilbert Ramos and Amira Axelle Miel, who are members of CPO.
The orchestra, led by Abellana, opened up with a brisk rendering of Beethoven’s “Coriolanus” Overture, followed by the first movement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 25.
The familiar strains of the intermezzo in Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” remained haunting; and Bach’s Double Violin Concerto in D Minor, interpreted by Ramos and Miel, was a delight.
The lilting Visayan hymn “Nonot Kamo Kanako” (Follow Me), arranged by Francisco Feliciano, sung by Sadaya, was a paean to Mother Nature, her birds, and “the song of the land.”
“St. Pedro Calungsod” by Percival Cacanindin was a slow, almost majestic tribute to the new saint, first performed by the orchestra and then, as a coda, sang by Sadaya in English.
Sala-Santamaria was in her element, performing Chopin’s familiar but always thrilling Piano Concerto No. 1, tossing off the lyrical as well as bombastic passages with energy, grace and brio.
The orchestra members are mostly young, led by a young conductor-director, and in time they should give their more experienced counterparts in Manila a run for their money.
The concert at the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod was a step in that direction.