Monday, July 26, 2010

Talk of the Town

The Philippine Post Wednesday, July 28, 1999


Raul S. Manglapus, who lies in the state, this week at a four-stop wake at the Ateneo, Petron, the Philippine Senate, and at St. James in Alabang, was always a popular fighter for freedom. The American Jesuits taught him all the civic passions: democracy, justice, honesty, freedom. He defended them while heavily besieged by the Japanese "kempeitai", the Marcos dictatorship, the bureaucracy and its unworthy politicians, the backwardness of his own people and the American military agreements.

But I knew him best as a brilliant piano player who could bang out any tune on our family piano in the living room, of our home in Ermita , while swapping jokes with my brothers, Leoni and Mario, who was also his classmate at the Ateneo. He couldn’t read a note, but music of ineffable quality issued from the piano when he played it: Verdi, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, kundiman, opera, jazz, swing or Sousa’s marches.

The piano playing he turned into the executive band and the anti-American musical "Yankee-Panky," later. But it became an indication of his true nature. Music, like his life and works, was a work of art.

He had a true ear for the right note and the perfect rhythm, the heart-rendering melody and the syncopated chords that could cause explosions. He had the intelligence and the will and the turn-of-phrase. Like his music, he was brave, strong and true.

Without him, I am afraid we shall have cacophony.

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