By BENEDICT SOLANG
BONTOC, Mountain Province — Musical arts are alive in the central Cordillera towns of Sagada and Bontoc with concerts during the recent All Souls holidays. There was the “Concert in the Clouds” in Sagada with national performing artists on October 28-29. And November 3rd was the “Concert in the Cathedral “ of about forty singing Priests and Bishops of the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches at All Saints Cathedral in Bontoc. This one for the books ecumenical endeavor, was with the leadership of Most Rev Valentin Dimoc of the Roman Catholic Vicariate of Bontoc-Lagawe, and Rt. Rev Harry Brent Alawas of the Anglican Church Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines.
The singing ecumenical Clergy connected to a packed Cathedral audience for three hours from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Popular songs like “Wise Men Say ”, “Let it Be”, “We are the Children”, “Sound of Silence”, and many others were belted out to an appreciative inter generational ecumenical crowd. Singing was by Anglican then by Roman Catholic and then by both in ensemble. There were individual pieces by Roman Catholic priests who sang their own compositions like Fr. Marcs C. Castaneda. And the audience that included Clergy music enthusiasts from Sagada and Baguio, was entertained by duets of Bishops Dimoc and Alawas who gamely responded to Encore! With music and good company amidst vibrant ecumenism, the evening just zipped by.
Aside from good wholesome music, there was awareness building on current ecumenism and for the Churches to be involved in local to national issues. Bishop Dimoc spoke on the challenge to care for the environment and to address issues like the “war on drugs” and EJK. Bishop Alawas likewise affirmed the continuing involvement of the Church on issues of human rights and Martial Law past and present. And he informed of recent initiatives of both Pope Francis at the Vatican for the Roman Catholic Church and of Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury for the Anglican Communion, who actively engage for ecumenism especially in the present age of extremism as seen in the Middle East and elsewhere.
For the Anglican and Roman Catholic communities in the central Cordillera highlands based in Bontoc, ecumenism indeed is much alive and engaged. The Concert in the Cathedral was one major endeavor, but so are many other day to day joint community activities including in sports mainly basketball. Thus for ecumenism today, we look to the Bontoc based Churches with their Bishops, Priests and congregations as models to show the way.
The Concert in the Cathedral was also a fund raising activity, this time for Anglican Seminarians at St. Andrew’s Seminary in Quezon City. Future concerts will also address Bontoc – Lagawe Vicariaite initiatives or whatever is mutually agreed on by the ecumenical parties closely working together.
The Concert in the Cathedral was indeed a wholesome community musical event, that also impressed the urgency for present day ecumenism and involvement in current issues. # nordis.net