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A Funeral in Jagna Bohol
« on: September 05, 2008, 08:06:16 PM »
Written by Joe Espiritu
Columnist, Sunday Post

Last week, we attended a funeral for a close relative. The deceased was an expat for more than half a century. He left Jagna in his early twenties for Manila to seek his fortune. From the time he left, there was no communication from him. We presumed him to be dead after all those years. Then came his letter. He had and found his way to the US, settled there and had a family. He stated that he would like to spend the rest of his life here. So he came home and after a few years he died at the age of eighty-four. He was from the Abrea clan; they of the baldheads and unpredictable tempers and most of them are traditionalists.

 He was able to survive his brother for a few years. The latter died of a stroke after watching the Pera o Bayong program on TV. The excitement must be too much for him.  At the time of burial of his brother, he asked who would provide the music for the funeral cortege and when he was told that it would be a tape recorder in the funeral car, he refused canned music for his brother. They hired the Jagna band for the occasion. So when he died we hired the same Jagna band.

 We attended the burial of our expat relative with our favorite artist Rosali Ortiz. Our attention was riveted on the band. For a funeral march, instead of wailing reeds, the blaring trumpets, trombones and lowing saxophones dominated the air. If there was a clarinet player among them, he must be lonely. The music played which we could not identify could be from some long forgotten opera, appropriate for the occasion.

 The old Jagna band was composed of ‘Yo Carias, ‘Yo Donisio, grandfather of Engr Cruza Bagatsolon and Nong Indong Cuarto. It was said that they were a balanced band during those days. There were the reeds, trumpets, trombones and horns, Jose Echaveria on the snare drum and a bass drum played by Ondoy Cuarto.

 When the older musicians passed on, the Acha brothers Yoyong, Pasio and Ramon took over. However, while Ramon played the tuba – hey man, the tuba is a favorite instrument of the Germans, you play it, not drink it -, Yoyong and Pasio introduced the saxophone into the band. This changed the context of the Jagna band, it somehow became an orchestra. Or something in between. Or whatever.

 There is confusion on the meanings of orchestra and band although there is a great difference between a symphony orchestra and a marching band. The former play only in auditoriums and opera houses while the latter play anywhere, streets, plazas, wherever the occasion demands. However, a four to six men Mexican ensemble with guitars and trumpets is already a mariachi band. It could also function as an orchestra.

 The deeper we go into the distinction between bands and orchestras, the more we get confused. Perhaps it is best to concentrate on the effect rather than on the cause. Some can play music on a saw, some from a leaf in the mouth. Unfortunately they could not be incorporated into a group.

 Someone should formally organize the Jagna band. There should be tenor instruments to play the high notes, instruments to play the principal music, instruments to play the low notes, the bass and percussions. As long as those would give a balanced rendition it does not matter what kind of instruments they are. They must be also portable and locally available. Forget the traditionalists.

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