Thursday, June 07, 2007
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Over 20 Years of the Bukas Palad Music Ministry

On June 7, 2007, the Bukas Palad Music Ministry shall be 21 years old.

Founded by Fr. Manoling Francisco SJ, Jandi Arboleda, and Norman Agatep, Bukas Palad (BP) was originally composed of 9 singers who were also members of the Ateneo Student Catholic Action and Ateneo Christian Life Community. The group's first public performance was at a wedding in San Beda Church on June 7, 1986. SInce then, BP has produced over a hundred liturgical and inspirational songs, performed in over a hundred solo concerts in the Philippines, Hongkong, Japan, and the US, and recorded 12 albums with the Jesuit Music Ministry. (from Norman Agatep's Multiply Site).

My first memory of the Bukas Palad Music Ministry was before they were even formed as such.

I remember I was in grade school at that time, about to enter the Ateneo High School.

My sister was practicing a song on the piano which was supposed to be a poignant church song called "Hindi Kita Malilimutan" (I will never forget you), based on Isaiah 49:15 that says:

Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.

It was a fantastic song. Too bad it's mostly being sung on funerals nowadays.

The first song I ever completed playing on the piano was another Bukas Palad song called "Panalangin ng Pagiging Bukas Palad" (Prayer for Generosity).

Bukas Palad inspired be in my passion for music. I hated my piano lessons since elementary but the inspiration songs sung by Bukas Palad ignited my love for the piano during high school.

I was inspired, through Bukas Palad, to take up the flute in earnest during high school and gave me a simple aspiration to play for a choir. Actually, Bukas Palad was one of my inspirations in this regards. The second was Days with the Lord.

When I did join a choir in law school, most of the songs we did were Bukas Palad songs. The rest were Days with the Lord songs, not directly connected with Bukas Palad.

It was in law school (about 1992) when I attended my first Bukas Palad album launching at Xavier School. It was my first encounter with Fr. Mano Francisco, S.J. Several companions joined me that evening, including another luminary Fr. Silvino Borres, Jr.

I was friends with Philip Gan (a former Jesuit novice) who collaborated, rather, penned the lyrics of pillar songs such as Tanging Yaman (My Only Treasure) and Sa 'Yo Lamang (Only Yours) during law school. He's now a lawyer/businessman, married to another lawyer, also a friend, but I have not seen them lately.

From law school until today, I have found solace and piece in my choir participation. It has centered me and continues to center me. And has kept me sane. And Bukas Palad has planted that seed in me to serve the Lord in music. And I attempt to learn new instruments always with the goal of finally playing it for the Lord.

It was through the Bukas Palad Messageboards that I met new friends (when I needed to meet new people the most, as I was just recovering from my failed marriage then) and my other choir, the BPOCC (or the Bukas Palad Online Community Choir), which still serves the 7:00 p.m. mass every second Friday every other month at the EDSA Shrine (which my father helped build as project manager).

And its songs continue to inspire me to this day. It still produces gems.

I will always be grateful to this music ministry. And I can never run out of good things to say about it, and the people that comprise it.

May it continue to fulfill its mission for a long time.

(You may want to read its history through the eyes of one of its founders, Mr. Norman Agatep here.)

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