Jesse Lucas sets gala premiere of new works based on Maningning Miclat | Inquirer Lifestyle
Banaue Miclat-Janssen. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Jesse Lucas sets gala premiere of new works based on Maningning Miclat

Composer Jesse Lucas. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Composer Jesse Lucas. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Talent Factory, Inc., Artist Playground, and the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation, Inc. proudly present “Ginugunita Kita,” a one-night unique musical experience featuring new works by noted composer Jesse Lucas based on selected poems written by the late trilingual poet, award-winning visual artist, published author and art teacher, Maningning Miclat.


Directed by multi-awarded film and theater actor Roeder Camaňag, “Ginugunita Kita” will feature respected actress and soprano, Banaue Miclat-Janssen together with opera singer and theater actor Al Gatmaitan and multi-talented artist Delphine Buencamino.

The by invitation only art performance will be held on May 30, 2015, at 7 pm at the Aldaba Hall, University Theater, U.P. Diliman, Q.C.


Lucas/Miclat tandem


Jesse Lucas is a multi-awarded composer of music for film, television, theater and dance. He studied composition at the University of the Philippines’ College of Music.

Fine examples of his work have been adapted by some of the premiere theater and ballet groups of the country, namely: Tanghalang Pilipino of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Dulaang UP, Dramatis Personae, Gantimpala Theater Foundation, Ballet Philippines and the Philippine Ballet Theater.



His awards include Gawad Urian, Young Critics Circle, Star, Famas (Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Science), Gawad Tanglaw and Aliw. He won Best Music at the 2005 Screamfest International Film Festival in Los Angeles, California. In 2010, he was elevated to the FAMAS Hall of Fame for Best Music.Born and raised in Beijing, China for the first half of her life, Maningning Miclat grew up to become an accomplished painter in both Chinese and Western genre and a multilingual poet, fictionist and essayist in English, Filipino and Chinese.

A UP graduate of BS Fine Arts and taking up MA just before her death in 2000, Miclat became a fellow of the U.P. National Writer’s Workshop, Silliman Writer’s Workshop and Rio Alma Poetry Clinic for her poems in English and Filipino. Her poems in Chinese earned for her a niche in Chinese poetry, counting her as one of the 39 Top-Rated Women Poets in Chinese anthologized in a book published in Beijing.


Melodious poetry

Eight poems by Miclat set to music by Lucas are in her trilingual book of poetry, “Voice from the Underworld” published by Anvil Publishing, Inc. in 2000. The book was a National Book Award finalist for poetry in 2001.


The eight poems are: Ginugunita Kita, Tawag, Duet (nina Rizal at Bracken), Kulay sa Bagyo, Ang Naliligaw, A Stare, Verse # 2, and To Catch a Second and Turn it to Forever. According to the composer, Jesse Lucas, inspiration came easily to him after reading Maningning Miclat’s “Voice from the Underworld.”


He wrote: “I immediately connected with the words and verses. The words used form their own cadence. Each word seemed carefully selected to form a given rhythm that supports its theme. The poems of Maningning Miclat are almost melodious that I can hear the music through the poetic images. It spoke and at the same time sang to me poignant thoughts about life, pain and love. These are the foundation of Ginugunita Kita’s music.”


Banaue Miclat-Janssen. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Banaue Miclat-Janssen. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

He added, “for me, the experience in writing the music was really meditative and cathartic at the same time. It feels like I have discovered a new language, a language that speaks directly to the soul.”


Eight poems set to music


“Ginugunita Kita,” the poem, was written around 1995-1997 during the time Maningning was doing research on the Philippine Revolution. Lucas followed the form of a traditional Filipino song, ‘kundiman.’ The melody translates memories of longing and love into a nostalgic momentary experience.


“Tawag” was written during the period 1986-1990. It was one of the poems written by Maningning during the Rio Alma poetry clinic which she joined right after arriving from China where she was born and spent half of her life from 1972 to 1986. (She passed on September 29, 2000). Lucas likens this song to a mother’s lullaby blissfully humming us to sleep. The flowing movement created by the piano mimics the jiggling of a mother’s arm while the cello counterpoints echoes the soothing humming.


“DUET (nina Rizal at Bracken)” was also written during Maningning’s research on the Philippine Revolution which took her 6 months. One of the articles written by her in the book, Beyond the Great Wall: A Family Journal (which won a National Book Award for biography in 2007) titled “Padlocks, Doors and Dolores Feria” mentioned her idol, Jose Rizal.


She wrote: “One time, it seemed that everybody on campus was talking about how unworthy Jose Rizal was as our national hero. I came back to the dorm, and my roommates were still talking about Rizal – a man who they claimed never wanted his country to be independent but fought for the Philippines to be a province of Spain, shame! And a playboy, too, ha!”


She continued, “I idolized Rizal, and nobody seemed to understand me. I learned about Rizal and other stories about the Philippines from my parents as a little girl in China. Whenever somebody would look down on me as a Filipina, I would ask them if their country had ever produced a hero like Rizal who knew ‘everything.’ I even pasted Rizal’s posters in my bedroom. Now, how dare they put my hero down! I went out of the room and phoned my guardian (Dolores Feria).”


In “Duet,” the song requires two voices that sing the same lyrical lamentations of affection, bond, pain, challenging circumstances and hope. The voices are representations of the struggles of two famous characters in history, Josephine Bracken and Jose Rizal. Lucas reflects the melodies of longing and wanting to be with each other.


“Kulay sa Bagyo ” was also written during the Rio Alma Poetry Clinic. She wrote about the poetry workshop in the Postscript of her book, “Voice from the Underworld.” She said: “In China, I spoke Tagalog with my parents with a Beijing twang. When I came back to the Philippines (in 1986), I tried to learn how to express myself in Filipino well.


The Rio Alma poetry clinic provided us an environment to be with the young writers who wanted to be poets in Filipino, and an opportunity to meet some of the best contemporary Filipino writers. …… I found keeping rhymes and meter most convenient not only for a twelve-syllable line representing the tradition of Balagtas, but also to put my uncertainties into a structure within the boundary of words.”


For this song, Lucas uses a buoyant tempo creating an optimistic air that can be equated to finding the beautiful colors of life in the midst of trials and adversities—the challenges everyone must take to discover resilience. This is the truth that this light song explores. Lucas imitated the calming and assuring tunes that the inner-self hums to the fretting thoughts of the mind and to the bustling beats of a worried heart.


“Ang Naliligaw ” was written in 1996 while Maningning was in Paris. In her article “Mysterious Smile in the Louvre,” she talked about getting lost again and again. Lucas uses contrasting rhythm, discordant notes and melodic tunes to create an upbeat tempo that mimics a journey in finding the beauty of living and being alive.


“A Stare”” is an English translation Maningning did of her poem written in original Chinese before she left China in 1986 when she was just 14 years old. She translated it into English a few years after. Lucas’ beat for this song echoes the sounds of time with an internal cadence that is very much like a pendulum.


“Verses # 2” is a translation into English in 1998 of her original Filipino poem, “Berso # 2.” The poem is another workshop poem during her Rio Alma poetry clinic fellowship. For this song, Lucas uses slow tempos and heavy beats like the emotional weight of the words that plead.


“To Catch a Second and Turn it to Forever ” is another translation into English of Maningning’s original poem in Chinese when she was only 13 or 14 years old. She translated it in 1994.


Joys are fleeting, just like the beauty and grace of a butterfly that last only for a few days. This song fervently prays that the memories and experiences of the past be kept forever. The sound of the passionate pleadings, the intense undertones of the pain of goodbyes and the crying of a loving heart sets the melodies of this song.


Director’s cut


“Ginugunita Kita,” the performance art, says the director, Roeder Camaňag, “is all about poetry and the creation of emotive response. From the poetry of the life of a poet to the poetry of interpreting the poems of someone you love and the poetry of putting the right music to amplify the auditory experience of powerful images embedded in a poem.” He added, “Originally we just wanted to stage a concert but this show turned out to be more than that, it has evolved into a performing art that explored the possibilities of fusing words, music, songs, dance and rite of passage.”



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