Although one can read a certain conservatism in de la Ramas disdain for the knee-length skirt, her insistence on wearing the terno became an integral part of her performing her own femininity and Filipino identity. For her achievements and contributions to the art form, she was hailed Queen of the Kundiman and of the Sarsuela in 1979, at the age of 74.[3]. al., Fashionable Filipinas, 141. Honorata "Atang" Dela Rama was formally honored as the Queen of Kundiman in 1979, then already 74 years old singing the same song ("Nabasag na Banga") that she sang as a 15-year old girl in the sarsuela Dalagang Bukid. Atang de la Rama. After de la Ramas debut in Dalagang Bukid, she performed in a succession of works that revitalized the lackluster Tagalog sarsuwela scene in Manila, which had experienced a downturn in the 1910s. Queen of the Kundiman and. By the late 1910s and early 1920s, sarsuwela repertoire mirrored anxieties around the urbanization of Manila in striking contrast to the idyllic rural countryside. The National Artists of the Philippines. In the drama, Angelita is often referred to as gentle and ladylike; she carries an aura of virtue and innocence about her as she sells flowers in Manilas unsavory cabaret districts.Footnote16. Sarsuwela characters ran the gamut of stereotypes, from the virtuous and chaste Filipina, the perpetual dalagang bukid, to the manipulative flirt depicted as a product of rapid urban modernization. Atang dela Rama Born Honorata de la Rama January 11, 1905 Tondo, Manila, Philippine Islands Died July 11, 1991 (aged 86) Manila, Philippines Occupation Filipino singer and actress Years active 1919-1956 Spouse(s) Amado V. Hernandez Awards National Artist for Theater and Music 1987 Atang de la Rama was born in Tondo, Manila on January 11, 1905. In addressing performance as a source of creative power, I follow Carolyn Abbates theorization of how a musical work exists only as it is given phenomenal reality by its performers.Footnote7 It is through the artists voice and presence that the sarsuwelas texts and music come off the page and reach the audiences senses. In the program for the 1919 benefit production of Dalagang Bukid, de la Rama is pictured wearing a balintawak dress (see Figure 1). That was why Atang de la Ramas pocket was always empty [Emphasis in the original].Footnote68. Original text: Kung napupuri at kinagigiliwan ang Maria Luisa, ang masasabi ko, bilang awtor, ay utang kay Atang de la Rama na isang tunay na himala sa pagtupad ng kanyang papel simula sa unang bahagi ng dula at hanggang sa wakas lalo noong inaawit niya ang awit ng pagkahibang Hesus Naririnig sa lahat ng dako nang dulaan ang iyakan ng mga manonood at ang mga piping buntong -hininga ng damdaming nakukuyom sa kanilang mga puso.. One place to begin exploring the case for de la Ramas creative authorship is the characterizations of women that proliferated in Philippine literature and theater in the 1910s, leading up to de la Ramas Dalagang Bukid. In the April 26, 1930 issue of the Tagalog daily Taliba, for example, Franco Vera Reyes wrote, I hope the many artists who starred in Maria Luisa will not be offended by this but they owe a huge part of the zarzuelas success to the muse of the Tagalog drama [Mutya ng Dulaang Tagalog]. From de la Ramas nuanced characterizations of the virginal and idealized country maiden to the urbanized and flirtatious bailarina or cabaret dancer, her vocal command and onstage presence revolutionized the Tagalog sarsuwela scene in Manila from the 1920s through the prewar years. In the 1930s, de la Rama was on the roster of artists in the KZIB radio station founded by the American department store owner Isaac Beck. Here, she is deliberate in her pauses and vocal slidescommonly referred to in Filipino music parlance as bitin and hagodand leaves the listener with a sense of vertiginous hanging just before the final cadence. Cultural Center of the Philippines. 33 See also Matthew Wittman, Empire of Culture: U.S. The woman general, Heneral Emilia, is an unmistakable reference to Emilio Aguinaldo (18691964), a general during the Philippine Revolution against Spain and the first Filipino president. During the American. De la Rama.Footnote2. This position ironically came from the male politicians advocating for independence. In the closing verse, de la Rama performs with more urgency as the text describes the dance floor as a heaven where the bailarina sings of her dreams. De la Ramas performances were at once sources of musical authorship and powerful testaments to womens creative work that has long been overlooked in the historiography of Philippine music and culture. Atang de la Ramas singular voice, heard on the multiple stages of popular entertainment, asserts its own kind of authorship that challenges the common conception that creativity is the exclusive domain of the playwright or composer. The Philippine-American war officially ended in 1902, while pockets of armed resistance continued in various provinces and locales outside of Manila at least until 1913. Atang Dela Rama was born on January 11, 1905 in Manila, Philippines. Formal U.S. occupation of the archipelago ended in 1946 with the declaration of Philippine Independence, while the influence of the American empire in the Philippines continued long after. Original text: Tumutulong si Atang de la Rama upang ang mga may pangit na asal na nanonood sa mga dulaan ay matutong gumalang sa arte. Atang de la Rama was born in Tondo Manila on January 11 1902. At age fifteen, de la Rama had her first opportunity to complicate the figure of the demure Filipina maiden when she made her debut in Dalagang Bukid in 1917. Orphaned at an early age, she grew up under the care of an elder sister who was married to a zarzuela composer where she was constantly exposed to the zarzuela. 35 El Declinar del Teatro Nativo, La Vanguardia (March 5, 1932). De la Ramas dual image of the traditional Filipina and the cosmopolitan professional artist strikingly parallels these multiple strategies, and her inclusion in the publication highlights how her rising status as an international celebrity lent particular potency to the idea of feminine progress in the Philippines. Original text: Ay naku! Similarly, de la Rama remains a crucial figure in the early history of cinema in the Philippines, even as she herself was starting out on the sarsuwela stage. Clutario notes how the Tagalog word kiri had become synonymous with the flapper, one of the dominant symbols of Filipina modernity in the late 1920s.Footnote27 This particular strain of Filipina modernity corresponds to the ways in which new fashion and beauty regimens became strongly tied to perceptions and subsequent depictions of the babae ngayon (woman of today), sexually liberated in stark contrast to the ideal Filipina. In 1979, she was hailed as Queen of Kundiman, and in 1987, she was awarded as National Artist for Theater and Music. Original text is in English. 64 Clutario, The Appearance of Filipina Nationalism, 224. The most notable of these were Sakay, Anak Dalita, Kandelerong Pilak, Sergeant Hasan, Destination Vietnam, and The Evil Within. 27 Clutario, The Appearance of Filipina Nationalism, 11011. But de la Ramas success in Dalagang Bukid ushered in a renewal of the lyrical stage with works by other emerging playwrights such as Precioso Palmas Paglipas ng Dilim (After the Darkness, 1920), Julian Cruz Balmacedas Sa Bunganga ng Pating (In the Sharks Jaws, 1921), and Servando de los Angeless Alamat ng Nayon (Legend of the Town, 1925). Movies. Honorata de la Rama-Hernandez (January 11, 1902 - July 11, 1991), commonly known as Atang de la Rama, was a singer and bodabil performer who became the first Filipina film actress.. Atang de la Rama was born in Pandacan, Manila on January 11, 1902. Singing competitions such as the Jazz and Kundiman Championship were also quite popular during the 1920s and were instrumental in presenting the genre as Filipino in contradistinction to jazz. In these contests, Jazz Girls were pitted against Lady Kundimans, which featured Atang de la Rama and Maggie Calloway, a silent film star in the late 1920s.Footnote43 Composers of this period took a serious interest in creating kundimans precisely because of the very voices that opened up the genre to a wider audience and gave life to their compositions. The sarsuwela (also labeled in the Tagalog as opereta by its librettist Hermogenes Ilagan) was set to music by de la Ramas brother-in-law Leon Ignacio. Theater scholars have noted that de la Rama danced while singing Nabasag ang Banga during some performances.Footnote21 Her bakya (wooden clog slippers) tapping to the foxtrot rhythm poses a striking contrast to the image of the country maiden, projecting an ambivalent and playful reflection on U.S. American cultural influences. 1 Notes on terminology: I use Tagalog primarily to mean the language, while I use Filipino as descriptor for the people and Philippine culture more broadly. Honorata de la Rama-Hernandez (January 11, 1902 - July 11, 1991), commonly known as Atang de la Rama was a singer and bodabil performer who became the first Filipina film actress.. Atang de la Rama was born in Tondo, Manila on January 11, 1905. The second in the list is Punyal ni Rosa with 366 performances. Following the Second World War, de la Rama continued to star in film and she hosted her own radio show in the 1950s.Footnote70 In the 1960s and 1970s, moreover, she contributed significantly to the restaging of prewar sarsuwelas and she availed herself freely as a resource for younger performers and theater companies. occupation of the Philippines, Atang de la Wrote short stories in Tagalog Prima Donna of Filipino. Siya pa rin ang Atang de la Rama ng napabantog na Dalagang Bukid., 32 Remigio Mat Castro, Pagkakaisa (January 12, 1930). Her direct address to potential audiences reflected a bold and confident voice that knew how and when to play the crowd. 51 From Lacnico-Buenaventuras 1985 interview with de la Rama. The striking cabaret scenes portray glimpses of the leisurely life of young, middle-class men and of bailarinas. As Roces argues, for the new class of working and professional women, [m]odernization required the abandonment of traditional dress when performing modern tasks.Footnote61, Figure 3. For more on the history of the womens movement in the Philippines, see Belinda A. Aquino, Filipino Women and Political Engagement, in More Pinay than We Admit (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, 2010), 1738. 61 Roces, Is the Suffragist an American Colonial Construct, 45. Among the highlights of the production was the song performed by de la Rama, Awit ng Pagkahibang (Delirium Song) in the second act. At the age of 15, she starred in . 67 Jun Cruz Reyes, Ka Amado (Diliman, Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2012), 15354, 25657. Vaudevilles early beginnings in the Philippines can be traced to a variety of theatrical entertainment by visiting American and European troupes in Manila in the late nineteenth century. Courtesy of the National Library of the Philippines, As Roces further points out, moreover, a complex politics of dress was carried out by the local suffragists, who purposefully used the traje de mestiza or terno in their civic-oriented work to counter those who perceived the movement as yet another form of colonial expansion. al., Fashionable Filipinas, 141. Permission is granted subject to the terms of the License under which the work was published. Her distinctive voice, stage presence, and memorable portrayal of the country maiden inspired the creation of a new repertoire of Tagalog sarsuwelas and gave momentum to the lyrical stage, just as other types of entertainment like vaudeville and cinema were gaining popularity in the Philippines in the early 1920s. This essay examines the role of Atang de la Rama in the development of the Tagalog sarsuwela and in the emerging popular entertainment industry in the Philippines in order to make a claim about women in performance as primary creators of Filipino culture and identity. By the age of 7 she was already starring in Spanish zarzuelas such as Mascota Sueo de un Vals and Marina. Her vocal training in a variety of styles including Italian opera combined well with the idiosyncrasies and theatricality of the Tagalog language. 40 One of the earliest sources of the kundiman is found in Jos Honorato Lozanos lbum: Vistas de las Yslas Filipinas y Trages de sus Abitantes 1847, which featured two transcriptions of cundiman songs and an illustration of a scene with a dancing couple accompanied by a small ensemble of string and wind instruments. National Commission for Culture and the Arts. These concerns may have been reflecting the dynamics of De la Ramas own marriage to the poet and labor leader Amado Hernandez. De la Ramas performances transformed the kundiman into a particularly potent musical and cultural symbol of Filipino identity. For a detailed account of the different theater venues that staged Spanish and Tagalog repertoire throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, see Cristina Lacnico-Buenaventura, The Theater in Manila, 1846-1946 (Manila: De La Salle University Press, 1994). Cultural Center of the Philippines. See Helen F. Samson-Lauterwald, Music in the Sarsuwelas of Severino Reyes (Lola Basyang) (Diliman, Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2016). In the final repetition of the songs chorus, de la Rama plays out affective vocal nuances with the pronounced slowness of her delivery. (2002). I am especially indebted to Pamela Potter, Christi-Anne Castro, Susan Cook, Anne Shreffler, Elaine Fitz Gibbon, Elisabeth Reisinger, David Miller, and Frederick Schenker. 5 Howick Place | London | SW1P 1WG. 55 Karen Henson, Introduction: Of Modern Operatic Mythologies and Technologies, in Technology and the Diva: Sopranos, Opera, and Media from Romanticism to the Digital Age, ed. This recording is most likely a digitized copy of rare 78s housed in the collection of Nestor Vera Cruz, owner of the Yesteryears Music Gallery in Quezon City, Philippines. De la Ramas fame as the Queen of Kundiman spread beyond Manila as she embarked on several extended tours abroad in 1926, 1932, and 1936. Throughout the sarsuwela, the urbanization of Manila and its perceived vices are placed in subtle contrast against the idyllic image of the countryside represented through the character of Angelita. She also made an effort to bring the kundiman and sarsuela to the indigenous peoples of the Philippine such as the Igorots, the Aetas, and the Mangyans. The centennial of local movies is celebrated this year, 2019.. PHILCLASSIC CHANNEL 7.74K subscribers Honorata "Atang" Dela Rama (1905-1991) National Artist for Theater and Music (1987) Honorata "Atang" Dela Rama was formally honored as the Queen of. Since this award holds up the recipient to public honor and recognition by Ateneo de Manila University, the personal integrity and moral qualities of the honoree should also be considered, as honorees of the university are meant to be held up as models in their own lines of endeavor. Nicanor Tiongson (Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 2018). Other photos of de la Rama from the 1930s onward show her holding the banga and wearing later versions of the balintawak that has a more straight-lined silhouette with matching fabric for the top and bottom parts of the dress. Honorata de la Rama-Hernandez commonly known as Atang de la Rama was a singer and bodabil performer who became the first Filipina film actress. 15 Susan Thomas, Cuban Zarzuela: Performing Race and Gender on Havanas Lyric Stage (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 7. Recent musicological scholarship on women and performance in Southeast Asia carefully examines the conditions of colonialism in the region that compelled female performers to embrace creative ways to combine foreign musical elements with their vernacular. See Tiongson, Atang de la Rama, 31. TRIVIA for the DAY: National Artist for Theater and Music (1987) Honorata "Atang" Dela Rama was formally honored as the Queen of Kundiman in 1979. Although it is difficult to ascertain how widely de la Ramas image from the 1919 playbill circulated, it is highly probable that her onstage character contributed to the popularity of the country theme in many studio photographs. Her work highlights the role of the performer as an equally important locus of creative authorship as that ascribed to playwrights and composers. De la Ramas voice resonates through the writers own recollection as it vividly creates the experience of the sarsuwela for its audience. This juxtaposition of urban and rural highlighted the ideals of Filipino women being challenged by the corrupting influences of foreign liberal views, often embodied in the character of the bailarina who navigated the world of cabarets (kabaret in the Tagalog scripts) and dance halls in Manilas nightlife. 2 (2010): 14986. Today marks the 28th death anniversary of the Philippines massive star, Honorata "Atang" de la Rama born on January 11, 1902, and died in 1991. 5 The playwright Severino Reyes was among the early advocates of the Tagalog sarsuwela who produced didactic works that were critical of Spanish colonialism. Upon landing in a job she, however, either chooses to be financially independent of her husband (this usually happens when relations of husband and wife are [estranged]) or to remain a dependent of the husband.Footnote66. A copy of the playbill can be found in Adlai Laras personal Flickr photo collection, (accessed October 3, 2019). 28 In Sesangs first entrance at the opening party scene, for example, the libretto instructs the actor to appear in a dress dcolletage (nakabestidong escotado). See Doreen Fernandez, Zarzuela to Sarswela: Indigenization and Transformation, Philippine Studies 41, no. In 1926, de la Rama performed with the Manila bandmaster Andres Baclig and his jazz band, the Manila Syncopators, in Honolulu.Footnote44 An account of de la Ramas travels abroad published in the Philippines Free Press highlighted the nationalist pride that such performances engendered and the critic reported at length about de la Ramas appearances as a goodwill mission of patriotic art.Footnote45 In the same 1926 tour, de la Rama made stops in Hong Kong and Yokohama, Japan prior to landing in Hawaii. Through sarsuwela librettos and scores, rare sound recordings, reviews, publicity photos, and de la Ramas writings, I amplify her musical and metaphorical voice to address the critical role of women in the production of sarsuwelas and popular culture in the Philippines. By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies. She finds it impossible to keep on a balanced budget unless she helps her partner in lifethat is, she gets a job. Wherever I go, in the course of my professional tours and engagements, I always wear my saya long and the sleeves of my camisa as ample as they should be like the gauzy wings of a butterfly, and it has never failed to elicit sighs of admiration among women of other countries I have visited. The bilingual (English and Spanish) magazine, edited by Filipino suffragist Trining Fernandez-Legarda, promoted itself as devoted to the best traditions of the Filipino home and the progress of the women in the Philippines. Although the magazine published many articles dedicated to family life and domesticity, it also included features and commentary that encouraged women to go out of the home in order to become better wives and mothers; moreover, its editorial board explicitly advocated for womens suffrage during the 1920s and 1930s.Footnote65 The (uncaptioned) cover photo links de la Rama with her iconic role by juxtaposing her headshot with a full profile of her as the dalagang bukid. Her cover photo is framed by texts that point to the magazines multiple strategies for advancing womens progress within the confines of homemaking as well as in seeking full participation in civic life. These clothes contrasted notably with the Western-style dress worn by women who pursued higher education and those who were visible in professional spaces traditionally occupied by men. The manuscript piano-vocal score and libretto of Dalagang Bukid is located in the Manlapaz Collection of the Pardo de Tavera Library and Special Collections at the Ateneo de Manila University (PL5548.3.I54 D3). In 1938, she formed her own theatrical group, the Compaia De la Rama, which staged sarsuwela repertoire and some Tagalog adaptations of European repertoire such as Puccinis Madama Butterfly.Footnote52 She wrote and directed shows for the bodabil stage which featured a mix of jazz and blues songs with Tagalog repertoire that she performed. She often looks out for those who distract her when she sings in the theater, and the moment she finishes, she goes down the stage and slaps whoever heckles her many times over. As Jun Cruz Reyes has suggested, it is possible that Hernandez became more politically active because of de la Rama, not the other way around.Footnote69 Such a commentary points to the generative work done by women like de la Rama that often remain unacknowledged in histories of Philippine culture. 3099067 This essay examines the role of Atang de la Rama in the development of the Tagalog sarsuwela and in the emerging popular entertainment industry in the Philippines in order to make a claim about women in performance as primary creators of Filipino culture and identity. [4], Generations of Filipino artists and audiences consider Atang de la Rama's vocal and acting talents as responsible for much of the success of original Filipino sarsuelas like Dalagang Bukid, and dramas like Veronidia. It is this sense of authorship that Hilary Poriss similarly argues for the critical work of prima donnas of the nineteenth century in their practice of altering operatic scores in performance, thereby challenging conceptions of authenticity of a given musical work.Footnote8 While Abbate and Poriss comment largely on the history and performance of European opera, such theorizations of the voice and of the performing artist are particularly helpful in teasing out the ways in which de la Ramas voice and stage presence position her as co-creator of sarsuwelas. 26 Sesang is labeled in the libretto as a dalagang haliparot, a descriptor for a young and licentious woman. Permission will be required if your reuse is not covered by the terms of the License. Copies of her scripts are found in the Manuscripts Folder, Atang de la Rama Collection, National Library of the Philippines ( On May 8, 1987, "for her sincere devotion to original Filipino theater and music, her outstanding artistry as singer, and as sarsuela actress-playwright-producer, her tireless efforts to bring her art to all sectors of Filipino society and to the world," President Corazon C. Aquino proclaimed Atang de la Rama a National Artist of the Philippines for Theater and Music.[5]. 4 Over three hundred years of Spanish colonial occupation in the Philippines ended with the Philippine Revolution (1896-1898) and the Treaty of Paris of 1898. Louise Edwards and Mina Roces (London; New York, NY: Taylor and Francis, 2004), 2458. Such critiques and social commentary also projected gendered prescriptions of the ideal Filipina as demure and virtuous, the dalagang Filipina, a recurring trope in Philippine literature and culture that persists to this day. These tensions between new and old, modern and traditional were mapped onto expectations of Filipina femininity against which de la Ramas performances continued to creatively rebel. Within this tension between the urban and the rural, representations of women often invoked expectations of Filipina femininity that conveyed a nostalgia for the pastoral lifestyle, a reaction to perceived encroachments of the foreign and the modern onto traditional Filipino values. 63 Personal Papers, Statements, and Reports Folder, Atang de la Rama Collection, National Library of the Philippines,, 5. Another way to consider de la Ramas performance and creation of Filipina nationalism is through the image of the diva and the symbolic power it carried. Atang believed that art should be for everyone; not only did she perform in major Manila theaters such as the Teatro Libertad and the Teatro Zorilla, but also in cockpits and open plazas in Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. An article from 1932 in Manilas Spanish-language newspaper La Vanguardia, for example, announced the decline of the sarsuwela due to the profane and good for nothing vaudeville.Footnote35 Such commentaries underline the debates between high and low art that preoccupied composers and intellectuals of the period, and express their anxieties about American influence. 72 A typescript account found at the Atang de la Rama Collection listing her appearance in sarsuwela performances puts Dalagang Bukid at the top with a total of 724 performances. Her consistent pairing of the Filipino dress, the terno, with global beauty trends in makeup and hairstyles revealed a self-fashioning practice that was simultaneously modern and traditional, Filipino and cosmopolitan.

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