MANILA, May 30, 2015—In what seemed like a glimpse of heaven, six talented choral groups representing various parishes in Metro Manila and Cavite played the angels, opening the biggest religious concert of the season on Friday, May 29, at the Minor Basilica of San Sebastián in Quiapo, to raise awareness on the sad plight of Asia’s only all-steel church.
In line with the theme “Sacred music by Filipino composers,” the Couples for Christ (CFC) Choral Group, Summerwind Choir, Philippine Camerata Singers, Cantors’ League, Los Cantantes de Manila, and Gloria Patri Singers bested one another in singing classics by some of the most revered names in Philippine music like Fr. Manoling V. Francisco, Fr. Eduardo P. Hontiveros, Fr. Tim Ofrasio, Lucio San Pedro, Francisco F. Velez, Manuel Velez, Jess Marfil, and many others at the 3rd Musica Sacra Festival.
Organized by the San Sebastián Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation, Inc., the concert is part of its continuing commitment to “evangelize through sacred music”, as well as to preserve, protect, and promote the “wonderful treasure” of San Sebastian Basilica through the “gift of faith, arts, and sacred music.”
“We aspire to share the soul and spirit of religious music as a kind of prayer, as an essential piece in a Christian’s life, and as a valuable way to spread the joy of the Gospel in our church and community,” it said.
Meanwhile, in a short talk, Fr. Rene F. Paglinawan, OAR noted that listening to sacred music performed inside a building as old and as majestic as the San Sebastián Church, surrounded by equally beautiful stained-glass windows, paintings, and sculptures, is an experience like no other.
However, the Augustinian Recollect expressed lament that these “things of beauty”—the church itself and everything inside it—are bound to disappear forever if adequate steps are not taken immediately to save them
Given the structure’s deteriorating condition, with rust undermining its overall integrity, the priest feared that it is only a matter of time before it collapses.
Moreover, on May 30, the newly-elected head of Caritas Internationalis, Manila Archbishop Luís Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, is expected to take a break off his hectic schedule to join the San Sebastián Chamber Singers and San Sebastián Rondalla in serenading the music-loving faithful.
The prelate’s musical “career” began when he staged his first major concert with the Our Lady of the Pillar Cathedral Choir in 2009.
Since then,Tagle has been using his singing talent to raise funds for the Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM)’s social action and development projects.
On May 31, the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth, the Musica Sacra Festival is also set to feature guest choirs singing in Masses from 4:00 pm to 8:00 p.m.
Admission to the Musica Sacra Festival is free. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)