March 2018


As musical artists, we in the college of music, are privileged to be in a society that sees musical ability as a gift –kaloób. The musician is acknowledged as gifted. But what exactly is the nature of this kaloob? More than just a remarkable set of inborn and highly specialized skills, musical gift for me is the capacity to imagine. Without imagination, there can be no creativity and without creativity, there would be no artistic expression. Imagination is vision; it is the audacity of the artist to think in the subjunctive: what if? Ano kaya kung? Pwede kaya?

Imagination is vision and vision fuels hope. Hope in turn allows us to endure the adversity of the present because we have a clear vision of what could be. Hope is the fount of patience and fortitude – we from the college of music know this all too well.

We endure until the imagined, the vision becomes embodied in our very being. We endure until the self is no longer just the gifted. It is the gift itself. The self is kaloób.

Kaloób may be read another way: kaló-ob – to be of the same spirit… to be kindred. The gift is meaningless if it is not meant to connect one to the other.

I am reminded of my gamelan teacher, the late Pak Hardja Susilo who required our ensemble to have a special meal together each time before a performance. He said this was what the Javanese called “slametan”– an occasion for the group to settle any personal issues and an opportunity for reconciliation in order for the performance to be successful. Today, as part of this ceremony, we will have our own simple slametan – a humble feast of street food, along with communal music making, intended to symbolize our mystic and social unity. For unless we are connected as a community, magkaka-ló-ob, our kaloób of music is meaningless.

So our call now is for our community to imagine our music, embody our vision and finally to engage the world. We have boldly declared it, in a faculty conference held about two years ago, that our mission is to transform the world through sound, movement and ideas. This is the audacity I was referring to earlier – I have no doubt that this is possible. But I also understand that the opposite is conceivable, and equally beautiful, if not even more – that our selves will be transformed because we encountered the world. Either way, this critical connection needs to be established. And because of this connectedness, we can be sure that our musical expression is both ethical and compassionate – that our music and our bodies resonate with humanity and all of creation. Imagine our music, embody our vision and engage the world. This is our call as we face the new century of our college.

Just a few more words before we end today’s ceremony.

Allow me to dedicate today to some individuals whose guidance and influence enable me to stand before you today.

This day is my kaloob to the memory of my parents, Benjamin and Purita, who have dedicated their entire lives to the profession of their faith. I borrow the language and imagery of the song you will hear shortly from my father, the preacher and hymn writer. I remember as well the last time my mother was in this hall. It was to attend my graduation for masters; she was wearing a turban with such grace, having just undergone brain surgery. I owe them their kaloob of forbearance and grace.

This day is my kaloob to my family, Leon, Laya and Gia. When I wrote Kaloob in 2004, I dedicated it to my children whose names I embedded in the text. But kaloob is the loving and painstaking work that my wife Gia put into restoring the Gaddang gourd hats for this occasion. I owe you, Leon, Laya and Gia your kaloob of love, patience and understanding.

This day is my kaloob to my predecessors, Dean Ramon Santos, Dean Mauricia Borromeo, Dean Ramon Acoymo and Dean Jose Buenconsejo whose leadership and achievement I can only hope to emulate and whose wise counsel I continue to seek. I owe you your kaloob of inspiration.

This day is my kaloob to the small group, you know who you are, who relentlessly persuaded me to take on the daunting task of leading this 101 year old institution, and the rest who graciously welcomed me to this post, with good wishes of encouragement. I owe you your kaloob of trust, support and partnership.

Finally, this day is my kaloob to one special mentor, Dr. Corazon Canave Dioquino, the professor who auditioned me when I applied to the college as a composition major. Years later, she would be the chair of the department of composition and music theory who will hire me as instructor, and after that, write letters of recommendation so I can study abroad. Fast forward many years more and she would be the very first person to nominate me for deanship at a time when I felt I was not prepared for the job. It saddens me that she cannot be with us today but she is here embodied by her granddaughter, Liya Dioquino, whom I, in turn, auditioned when she applied as a freshman here. The circle is unbroken. Liya will be conducting my piece, kaloob – it would have been such a joy for her nonna to witness this. I owe Dr. Dioquino her kaloob of reason, wisdom and compassion.

And so in all humility, I accept this kaloob to serve the college and the university, and uphold its vision of a transformed and transformative community of musical artists and scholars; I declare it as my sworn and solemn duty to ensure that we are magkakalo-ob, and do all to maintain this bond, for this is the only way we can accomplish our mission. Samasama nating harapin ang mga hamon sa bagong siglo ng ating musika.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1Message of acceptance read at the Kalo-ob: Pagpapatibay ng panunungkulan bilang dekano ng Kolehiyo ng Musika held at the Abelardo Hall Auditorium, UP College of Music on 28 February 2018.

LaVerne David C. de la Peña, PhD
College of Music
University of the Philippines

University of the Philippines College of Music, Ylanan Street, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City
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