PARING BUKIDNON. Members of the Paring Bukidnon, a group of 14 priests assigned in Bukidnon Province, Philippines, perform during ‘a concert of faith and prayer’ held in the evening of last September 14 in the St. Regis church in Bloomfield. Photo by Percy Antonio)

If you think Filipino Catholic priests  are good only at delivering homily and  saying holy Mass, you’re mistaken.   They are also good at some mundane things like singing, and several are really good singers.

This was the impression we had after watching “Paring Bukidnon,” a choral group of 14 priests from Bukidnon, Philippines, who staged “a concert of faith and prayers” in the evening of last Sept. 14 in the Saint Regis church on Lincoln Road, Bloomfield.

The group’s performance drew applause many times from the audience of some 300 people, proof that the priests are blessed with fine voices, the
blending of which is superb.

In some numbers, the priests sang and danced, making the concert doubly entertaining. And the realization that the performers are simple parish priests in predominantly rural Bukidnon enhanced the spectators’ feeling of awe. At one instance, they even looked like professional Broadway performers.

Dubbed “Because I Believe,” the well produced concert consisted of four parts. Part I’s first number, called “Abakada,” is a popular children’s song. As they sang, the priests were acting as if they were children, and this amused the concert goers. This was followed by “Batang Bata Ka Pa.”

The first part was capped by an excellent rendition of Freddie Aguilar’s popular ballad “Anak,” which is a story about a wayward son. The ending was dramatic, as the group emoted very well the sadness felt by the son as he regretted his mistake of disregarding his parents’ advice. Some spectators vicariously felt the son’s sad fate, causing them to shed tears.

Part II consisted of four songs, the last of which was “I believe.” Again, the priests proved that they could really sing well as they crooned the high operatic notes with comparative ease.

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Part III was noted for its political tone as the performers sang a song entitled “Father Neri Satur,” an environmentalist-priest in Bukidnon who was
murdered due to his campaign against the degradation of the environment.

Another Part III number that was well applauded was the rendition of the song, “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo,” which was about the peaceful EDSA I People Power revolution. The songand-dance act evoked nationalistic pride as one of the performers waved a big Philippine flag on stage.

Part IV, which was the last part, was about the life of a priest, capped by the singing of “Gloria.”

The group was led by Bishop Jose Araneta Cabantan, D.D., who delivered a short remark after the concert.  The bishop surprised everyone when
he, too, sang a religious song.

The members of the Paring Bukidnon are Fathers Diomedes Brigoli, Arbel Cabasaga, Lito Canoy, Conrado Casas Jr., John Mark Colipano, Virgilio Delfin, Rodolfo Isada, Elric Jorquia, Joe-Ann Lamasan, Flordelito Nazareno, Rene Regalado, Arsenio Rubio, Victoriano Salem and Joel Tuquib.

The intermission was likewise entertaining as the KKPM Youth Choir belted some numbers under the baton of Aris Macandog. Father Felix Alsola starred in the intermission together with Miss Little Ang Bisaya Antonette Joseph, singing favorite classics such as “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

Top pianist Roy Coloma provided piano accompaniment for some of the intermission songs.  The Exit 50 Band led by Paul Villavicencio also performed some scintillating numbers.

Interviewed after the show, Father Colipano said that Paring Bukidnon has been on a tour and had already staged concerts in Vancouver and Toronto, both in Canada. The group’s next stop after Michigan is New York.  Its final concert in the US will be in Seattle, Washington.

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The Michigan concert was coordinated by the Kapulongan ng mga Katolikong Pilipino sa Michigan (KKPM) headed by President Billie Go Belen.

Father Colipano said that the concert tour is a project to raise funds for the construction of a P32-million building for the diocesan and pastoral
center in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. He added that the building is already 90 percent complete, but the diocese still owes the contractor some P10 million.  (Tony Antonio)