Couple lifts Pangasinan folk songs from oblivion

Written by Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon

retrieved from August 15, 2010 Philippine Daily Inquirer

SAN CARLOS CITY, Philippines –Lazaro Milanes and his wife, Shirley, have made it their mission to save the folk and love songs of their native Pangasinan from oblivion.

The Milanes couple, who are educators, revive and popularize native songs and compose new ditties so they can keep the Pangasinan language alive.

“This is our contribution to preserve our cultural heritage and our language which is fast dying,” said Lazaro, 49, a professor of English at the Pangasinan State University (PSU).

Lazaro and Shirley, who teach education and music subjects at the Virgen Milagrosa University Foundation, recorded 30 folk and love songs that Shirley gathered from the different towns and cities where at least 60 percent of residents still speak Pangasinan.
The compilation and recording of the songs formed part of Shirley’s dissertation for her doctorate degree in education last year.

Lazaro also produced a compact disc that contained a collection of his original Pangasinan compositions. The songs include “Dayat Ko, Bilay Ko” (My Sea, my Life), “Malinis ya Komunidad” (Clean Community), “Solar Tayo, Linisan Tayo” (Let’s Clean our Yard) and “Kaliberliber” (Environment).

The two CDs were launched last week by the Ulupan na Pansiyansiya’y Salitan Pangasinan, a group that works for the preservation of the Pangasinan language.

“I wanted to present the songs in all their pride and glory,” Shirley said.

Shirley sang the 30 songs in the compilation, while Lazaro, who has a master’s degree in music education, did the musical arrangement.
Lazaro and Shirley are members of the Tambayo Singers, a chorale specializing in Pangasinan folk songs and which started in the PSU in the 1980s.

The songs in the Milanes couple’s CDs include Pangasinan lullabies, nursery rhymes and children’s songs, courtship and wedding songs, work-related and novelty songs, and funeral and burial songs.

“[These songs] mirrored a great part of the lives … of Pangasinenses, [embodying] the direct and spontaneous outburst of people’s feelings,” Shirley said.

“Pangasinan is rich in folk songs but most of these are already lost. Thus, the young generation immersed in popular songs could hardly connect with folk songs. We hope we can revitalize folk songs with our recordings,” she said.–Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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