The composer-choirmaster Jerry A. Dadap often tells this anecdote about two National Artists for Music: Lucio D. San Pedro, composer, and Levi Celerio, lyricist. The two created the immortal song “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan,” that paean to mother’s love.
One day the two met again after some time, and the composer joyfully told the lyricist: “Ang ganda ng lyrics mo sa kanta ko. Napaiyak tuloy ako” (Your lyrics were so good they made me cry).
“Ako rin napaiyak” (I also cried), Celerio reportedly said.
“Kasi hindi mo pa ako binabayaran!” (Because you haven’t paid me yet.)
San Pedro is the latest National Artist whose works have inspired the Collectors’ Series of Freeway Art, a fashion collection of Freeway, a retailer with branches nationwide. Other National Artists similarly honored are architect Leandro Locsin, visual artist Vicente Manansala, visual artist Ang kiukok, poet Jose Garcia Villa, fashion designer Ramon Valera, novelist F. Sionil Jose, visual artist Botong Francisco, and lyricist Celerio himself.
The unique collection is usually launched by fashion show (optional) and a program bringing together experts on the works of the National Artist and members of his family (and the National Artist himself if he is still alive—as in the case of José).
A well-known personality serves as program host.
San Pedro collection
The San Pedro Collection was launched recently at Freeway’s main branch at The Glorietta, Makati City. Present were members of the family of the late composer and Antonio Hila, a music critic and regular contributor to the Inquirer.
Program host was singer Rachel Alejandro, who also obliged with some OPM songs like “Kahit Na” and “Saan Ka Man Naroroon.”
A video presentation on San Pedro by the Cultural Center of the Philippines was shown.
Gracing the occasion were San Pedro’s daughters Ma. Cristina San Pedro-Salita, Rhodora de los Santos, son-in-law Alberto de los Santos, and granddaughter Mary Grace San Pedro, a soprano who also led the Angono Rizal School Nouveau Chorale in singing some of the National Artist’s famous compositions, like “Ang Buwan sa Kabundukan,” “Lahing Kayumanggi,” and, of course, “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan.”
Recalling her father, Ma. Cristina said he was a very loving parent but, like all artists had his moods.
“We had to tiptoe while he was composing,” she shared. “And when he was disturbed he would shout—excuse the word—punieta!”
Like another famous townmate, Botong Francisco, San Pedro was also very involved in the community in Angono, Rizal, and wanted all the choral groups in the town to sing his songs first.
“He really had a passion for bands,” De los Santos said.
There were seven bands in the town, including symphonic bands.
Hila hailed the National Artist as “a creative nationalist whose musical language comes from the people, the folk songs.”
He added: “When you listen to his music, the language, the folk essence, is there.”
Alejandro summed up the evening’s tribute when she declared that San Pedro “was concerned with uplifting the community.”