Love takes many forms
It was a lazy Sunday afternoon, a cool breeze gently enveloping the city. It was a nice day to stroll to Meralco theater (a five-minute walk from home) with friends to watch the concert, All About Love, showcasing the music of Maestro Louie Ocampo and Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ.
I had no idea that the two talented musicians are related. It turns out that Fr. Manoling’s lola, Leonarda Ocampo Francisco, is the sister of Louie’s dad, Benigno Ocampo. This makes Louie Fr. Manoling’s uncle. No wonder it was so easy to bring them together to raise funds for the Tanging Yaman Foundation, which provides college scholarships and raises funds for housing projects in Marawi and Caloocan. It’s a foundation very close to Fr. Manoling’s heart.
The concert had five suites to show the different kinds of love. The first kind was Searching & Desiring. Louie admitted that the first song he composed, Maghihintay Ako Sa ’Yo, was about his search for a girlfriend. By contrast, Fr. Manoling already sensed that he was being called to the priesthood when he was in grade 7.
During the second suite, Faithful Love, Fr. Manoling talked about the Lord’s faithfulness. He explained that even if it seems as if God has abandoned us with all the calamities affecting the world, the Lord’s faithful love remains steadfast and constant. The Ateneo Chamber Singers, Bukas Palad Music Ministry, Hangad Music Ministry and Tinig Barangka Choir performed in this segment. The ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra also accompanied Arman Ferrer’s moving rendition of Hindi Kita Malilimutan and Bituin Escalante’s soulful interpretation of Huwag Kang Mangamba. Both Arman and Bituin then sang Sa ‘Yo Lamang, the duet bringing tears to my eyes because their angelic voices felt like an embrace from the Holy Spirit.
The third suite was Heartbreak, which began with Louie speaking about broken relationships. He called in his very dear friend, Martin Nievera, who then kidded him about how they each dealt with failed relationships. Ever the quintessential performer, Martin sang Say That You Love Me, Kahit Isang Saglit and Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin from the heart, the pain palpable in every note.
During the fourth suite, Healing, Fr. Manoling reassured Louie and Martin that even as we all fall in and out of love, the Lord assures us of His constant healing and tender mercy. Before he sang I’ll Be There For You, Martin said that the song was a collaboration with Louie, with Martin providing the lyrics and Louie composing the music. Martin then lovingly dedicated the song to his and Louie’s children.
The final suite was about Empowerment. Bituin returned to the stage and sang Gabing Kulimlim and Your Heart Today. She was followed by singing discovery Lian Kyla, together with Clare Royandoyan, Ryza Martinez and Joy Dauz, who sang I Can and I Will Sing Forever with the other choirs.
For the finale number, all the performers were back on stage to sing a medley of favorite Mass hymns like Papuri Sa Diyos, Aleluya, Take and Receive, Ama Namin and Kordero. For a minute there, I thought I was in church because the music was so spiritually moving, and the discussions about the types of love so nourishing for the mind and heart. How I wish this article could play the beautiful music we heard that night!
Before the show ended, Louie reminded us that love takes many forms, like love for spouse and family, and love for God, country and environment. Love is expressed in many ways as well, whether by a supportive sibling, a doting parent or a dedicated worker. Fr. Manoling reminded us that where love is, there God is as well. May we all be instruments of God’s love through all our loving relationships.