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CLSU 2004-02: The Araquio of Sto. Tomas, Peñaranda, Province of Nueva Ecija: A Study on the Music in Devotional Theater

The araquio is a Tagalog komedya on the search of the Holy Cross, the patron saint of barangay Sto. Tomas, Peñaranda, Nueva Ecija. As devotional theater, the araquio is both a dramatic presentation as well as a vow on the part of the devotees. This study investigated the music of the araquio, its repertoire and medium of performance, how it was woven into the narrative of araquio, and how this tradition continued to evolve; incorporating new elements into its original structures. The study was conducted through interviews with the practitioners of the tradition: the maestros, the band conductor, personajes, others who have been involved with araquio production, and lastly, the devotees of the Holy Cross. Further information was obtained through questionnaires, publications and audio-visual documents. The production of araquio consisted of several stages from the identification of incoming sponsors, hermanos and hermanas, a turn-over ceremony, auditions, and selection of participants and rehearsals – all taking place two to three months before the performance. Lasting two full days and one night, the araquio is presented during the first Saturday and Sunday of May in veneration of the Holy Cross, an icon called Mahal na Poong Santa Krus and the religious patron of barangay Sto. Tomas, Peñaranda. Araquio music consists of vocal and instrumental pieces. Songs with text taken from the araquio script and songs with text not taken from the script constitute the vocal music. Songs with improvised text are included only during the Lenten season. These are accompanied exclusively by the band. The instrumental pieces consist of originally composed music, borrowed or adapted from folksongs, ballads, and anonymous compositions, all performed by the band. The existence of a constant and variable song repertoire reflects the practioners’ approach to combining elements of tradition and modernity in the music of the araquio. Because the songs and instrumental pieces that seem to have been composed exclusively for the araquio are taught, learned, and performed aurally (by ear or oido), the researcher transcribed the melodies as sung by the interviewees. Written in archaic Tagalog verse from by Leon Estanislao in 1880, the script entitled Sta. Cruz de Mayo is composed of seven acts, sixty scenes, and three appendices. The directions in the script show how the music is integrated in the play. All entrances and exits, formations for battle, choreographed sword fights, and dances require specific types of music played by the band. This study on music as essential to the araquio in Sto. Tomas can lead to research on: a) the music of araquio in other barangays of Peñaranda, b) the pantot (ritual dance) and as panata, c) other elements of the araquio in Sto. Tomas, d) the script of araquio as post-colonial literature in Filipino, e) gender issue as it relates to araquio, and f) the development of band in Peñaranda and its repertoire.

Central Luzon State University
Authors Keywords
Ibarra, Florante P.; cultural identity; music education;
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