Bulwark of Filipino Catholicism

Welcome remarks delivered during the 5th Manila Cathedral-Basilica (MCB) Pipe Organ Concert held on November 12, 2010 at the Manila Cathedral-Basilica.

On behalf of the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica Foundation, I welcome all of you tonight. I know that all of you are now eager to listen to the Concert but before we begin, allow me to talk briefly on two points: first, about the work of our Foundation; and second, about tonight’s musical program.

About the Foundation. More than mortar and brick, the Manila Cathedral is a symbol of our faith and a monument of our religious heritage as a people. It is the bulwark of Filipino Catholicism and an enduring witness to the strength and depth of our people’s fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Indeed, from its origin in 1581, the Manila Cathedral has become not just a church in the capital city but also a temple of faith of the entire country. However, while our faith has grown and strengthened throughout the whole archipelago, the cathedral has fallen to many disasters and natural calamities, like typhoons, earthquakes and fire, not to mention World War II which practically ravaged it to the ground.

The present structure, with Neo-Romanesque Byzantine architecture, was designed by Architect Fernando Ocampo and reconstructed after World War II by Archbishop Rufino J. Santos, who became the first Filipino Cardinal. The reconstructed Cathedral was consecrated on December 7, 1958 under the patronage of our Mother Mary, the Immaculate Conception.

Now, more than 50 years after its reconstruction, the Manila Cathedral needs major renovation, structural strengthening and reconstruction. To undertake this re-building, the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica Foundation was organized. It is chaired by His Eminence, Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales. Actively assisting us in this monumental work are Architect William Coscolluela and Engineer Dennis Abcede, who are completing the structural and renovation plans.

Because of frequent earthquakes, we had to bring down the giant bells on the belfry of the Cathedral and constructed a new home for them at ground level. With financial assistance from Dr. Emilio T. Yap, the ground belfry will be finished in a few days from now, on November 20.

And to take the place of the massive bells which were broght down from the belfry tower, the Foundation has been the fortunate recipient of the generosity of Alberto and Sylvia Lina who donated almost five million pesos to acquire new computerized, top-of-the-line carillon bells from the Netherlands. They will arrive next month, so we can use them during the Christmas season. Maraming, maraming salamat po to my inaanak, Bert and Sylvia of Fedex and Air 21 fame.

About tonight’s concert. Let me now talk about tonight’s concert. This is actually the 5th in a series of concerts that feature our renovated giant pipe organ in the Cathedral balcony loft. Let me now acknowledge our sponsors and friends who have made this musical program possible. First, let me thank the participating choirs from the University of Santo Tomas, St. Paul’s University of Manila, St. Scholastica’s College, Santa Isabel College and our very own Manila Cathedral Choir coordinated by Eugene de los Santos and Monsignor Nestor Cerbo, the indefatigable Executice Director of our Foundation and the overall coordinator of tonight’s affair.

Thank you to the featured composers-organists-conductors led by Professors Alfredo Buenaventura and Armando Santiago. We also thank the dance groups from the Shirley Halili School of Ballet, St. Dominic College and Pamana, which were made available through the care giving services of NCCA chaired by Dr. Vilma Labrador.

We say thank you to our creative production team from ITI-Earthsavers Dreams Ensemble under the direction of our Foundation Trustee Cecile Guidote-Alvarez. The visuals were prepared by Pixel Arts Media Team.

Our Concert tonight will be covered by NBN Channel 4 and will be televised at Sining Gising on the first Sunday of December in celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Once again, to all our patrons, benefactors and friends and to all of you who came tonight, Maraming Salamat Po. Let us all relax and enjoy this memorable evening of music and dance.


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