Yesterday, the town of Molo in Iloilo celebrated its yearly town fiesta partly in honor of my great grandfather, zarzuela composer, novelist, and journalist Angel Merle Magahum. A 33-member choir, accompanied by an orchestra and organ, sang his Latin mass composition, Misa de 2 o 3 para Canto y Organo, a piece my great grandfather orchestrated for the high mass.
Lolo Angel was a champion of the Hiligaynon dialect, a Filipino language spoken by hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. In 1897, he wrote Benjamin, the first Hiligaynon novel; he was also the editor of the Makinaugalingon newspaper, the longest-running Visayan language newspaper in the Philippines.he also wrote a novel, Isa ka Bihag (The Captive); Euponiya sang Pulong Nga Binisaya (An Euphony of the Visayan Hiligaynon); and Palanganinawan (Reflection). Today, a street at the junction of Locsin-M.H. Del Pilar is named after Angel Magahum.
The Misa de 2 o 3 para Canto y Organo was the only one orchestrated during the fiesta of 13 masses he had actually written. It was first showcased during the Molo town fiesta in 1895, played by Lolo Angel himself. Thanks to the efforts of musicologist Ariel Bordon, the Misa de 2 o 3 para Canto y Organo was heard for the first time after 113 years. (According to my grandmother, it was no easy feat; Mr. Bordon has to reconstruct the libretto from Lolo Angel’s surviving pre-war manuscripts, which were given to him by my great aunt Naysol (Sol Magahum-Dideles), who saved them from the invading Japanese army’s bullets and bombs.
It was absolutely beautiful, based on what my mother said via text message. I’m glad to be his great grandson, and absolutely proud of my heritage. Mabuhay ka, Lolo Angel!
(Acknowledgement to this piece which provides the information for this blog entry.)
Here are other resources on Angel Magahum:
Ethnicity and Nationhood in the Fiction of Angel Magahum by Rosario Cruz Lucero
Ang Sampaguita (A Hiligaynon poem by Angel Magahum), Our Own Voice