Sunday, November 5, 2017

Concert in the Clouds rocked Sagada Mountains

Joey Ayala in Sagada.

The gargantuan task of putting together 30 great artists in faraway Sagada in one show for a cause can now be rightfully called the greatest show in the mountains.

Freddie Aguilar singing with toned-down voice.
The artists include Gary V, Acel, Adinkra Lumads, Kat Agarrado, Sinosikat, Freddie Aguilar, Aoui, Apartel, Asch, Abbey Asistio, Joey Ayala, Edgar Banasan, Behind Bears, Blue Jeans Junkies, Ely Buendia, Noel Cabangon, Lolita Carbon, Giniling Festival, Dane Hipolito, Kordilyear Jam ni Peter Wasing, Raymond Luchenco, Lenses, Lunar Landings, Maude, Monolog, Moonwalk, Native Flavor, Ransom Collective, Reggae Mistress, Skymarines, The Ringmaster and Up Dharma Down.



“And if only from my perspective, then this one was,” said Formosa who also produced the music of many of the Manila artists who came to the show.

Noel Cabangon shared his time and talent to the cause.
Working together with Sagada folks, Formoso said “when you put all its components and working parts together, assembled and analyzed as a whole, 'A Concert in the Clouds' in Sagada last weekend was a piece of work beyond anything anyone could ever imagine.”

One of the reasons for the event’s success is all of the artists agreed to do this for charity. Formoso said all “the artists agreed to do the event without talent fee.”

Majority of the artists who came were friends of mine. That being said, it was like a family reunion and birthday party. Everyone was a gift, everyone brought a gift. It was a family thing. It was the same on stage as on the field. A family affair," said Formoso.


The concert was attended by thousands of guests, the highest at any one time reaching up to 3,000. Major Key players who made it possible were the Department of Tourism, Victory Liner and the Henry V. Moran Foundation. He said “the Sagada Art, Music & Peace Fair was a work of love. And those who put it together and those who participated in it delivered that love to those who came to witness.”

As one Sagada folk Tessie Baldo said, “I am a small person who can’t afford a ticket to a concert or to even go to Manila.” “The performance of these artists in Sagada is a great experience for a simple person like me,” she said.

While there were several oppositions, most business owners had supported the concert dubbed as the greatest show in the mountains.

Gaia Café proprietress Gawani Domogo had to open up earlier than her planned re-launching to cater to the vegetarian guests and artists. “We still don’t have doors and our extension is still underway but we have to open up as I am the only one serving vegetarian meals,” she said.

One petitioner who also went to the concert to observe said their fears were not realized because the targeted guests were not met. “It probably would have been different if there were more guests who arrived,” he said.

Siegrid Bangyay, one of the organizers said “those were all assumptions. If all of us will help each other, those fears will not materialize.”

Domogo on the other hand said “Sagada has been experiencing an influx of tourists during long weekends especially during Holy Week.” “During those times, we managed. How much more for an event like this where we have a long time to prepare and we can have more volunteers to utilize,” she said.

One of the best part of the event happened not during the concert but during the sound check of Garry V. It was not witnessed by many but it was special to the people who witnessed it. While he was doing the sound check, a small crowd was gathered to watch him.

Garry V. was surprised so he chatted with them and performed for them. “I don’t usually have people watching me during sound check but I’m glad you’re here today,” he told the audience. “Tonight you might not be sitting here, baka nasatabi-tabi kayo so please allow me to perform for you today.”
He sang several songs that he would again perform for a bigger crowd that night. The star was even apologetic for having to communicate with the technical people. “Since this is a sound-check, please forgive if I talk to my sound guys every once in a while,” he said.

He ended up singing more songs that necessary during his sound check and delighted the gathered crowd whom he even granted to have selfies with.

Bangyay said the concert was a success although it did not meet the targeted sales as many sponsors and guests backed out because of the petition. “For the people of Sagada to watch big stars perform in their neighborhood is already a big success,” she said.

Other activities during the event were art exhibit Baguio and Sagada artists and free art workshops for kids of Sagada.

Formoso said some told him it was impossible to do. “Too ambitious, others said it was insane, but no one laughed it off...and so, it happened,” he said. 

Will it ever happen again? Formoso said “the answer depends on my friends in Sagada.” “It is now theirs and for them to decide. I will be in the audience for the next one,” he said.
Formoso said “there are other dreams that I need to mold.”


“Perhaps 'A Concert in the Ruins' and 'A Concert by the Sea'... both of which, when realized, will be "once-in-a-lifetime" experiences. I need to take some time to pause and reflect. THANK YOU to all my artist friends who came to play. THANK YOU everyone who supported it. THANK YOU Sagada. Till then.”



Saturday, November 4, 2017

Sagada’s Ap-apoy, a Merging of Christendom and local Tradition

Sagada's annual Ap-apoy.

Sagada’s Ap-apoy is a celebration of All Saints Day combined with the traditional way of commemorating dead loved ones.

During late afternoon of November one, people of Sagada visit the tomb of their dead loved ones carrying with them bundles of firewood. The practice was also adopted by the people who migrated to the place whose dearly departed are buried in the cemetery.

I went to this event hoping not only to understand the culture but to find the tomb of American anthropologist and educator William Henry Scott. From what I heard, he fell in love with this place and made it his last resting place.

It was a fortunate visit as I not only found his tombstone, I also found his foster family who come here often during this event to commemorate him.

Miguel Talaney is one of the 15 foster children of Scott. Talaney, who is now 85 years old, was closest to the anthropologist as he and his family were the ones who stayed with him. The family explained to me about the tradition.

The old folks according to Wileen Lasangan, daughter of Talaney, did not practice the annual November one Ap-apoy until Christianity came.

In the old tradition of Sagada, lighted firewood is usually carried ahead to light the way when they bring their dead ones to his/her last resting place, either to the burial caves or to be included in what is now the famous hanging coffins.

“The light is a symbol that shines the way of the spirit of the departed,” said Lasangan. With the arrival of Christianity, cemeteries were created and eventually the people adapted this practice.


Came with Christianity was the annual observation of All Saints Day. But instead of candles, firewoods were used.

“It’s not only part of the tradition but it’s more practical as it doesn’t easily put out from the windy weather of Sagada,” said Willa Langbay, also a daughter of Talaney.

The ap-apoy usually starts in the late afternoon with each family arriving to light their firewood one after the other. Recently, they organised to do it simultaneously where a mass is scheduled at the start of the event. After the mass, they all heed to the cemetery for a simultaneous lighting.

After the Ap-apoy, each family goes home to honour their loved ones over dinner. Sometimes, they are joined by invited guests. I was fortunate to be invited by the Talaney family.

The Talaney family at William Henry Scott's residence. Miguel is standing 2nd from right.
Ap-apoy is open to visitors as long as they observe the solemnity of the event. Contrary to some misleading info by some travel agencies, this event is not a festival  and group tours are usually closed to this part of town during this event.