Twenty local and foreign composers will compete in the Banaue Rice Terraces-inspired symphonic competition as part of a project to restore the landmark's glory.
The 20 were among 84 participants who sent entries for the Banaue International Music Composition Competition (BIMCC), the first of its kind in the Philippines.
Of the 20 competitors, top 10 finalists will be selected and their chosen pieces will be performed by an orchestra at the grand finals night at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on July 25.
United Harvester, Inc. together with the Banaue local government, introduced the 20 semi-finalists at a press conference in Makati City on Tuesday.
BIMCC Artistic Director Professor Chino Toledo hoped that through music, they will be able to draw out attention from Filipinos and international audience to help save the famous landmark and the traditions that thrive around it.
"Through music, we are sending a strong message to the public and the world about the beauty and culture of Banaue Rice Terraces," he said, adding all the Banaue-inspired compositions they received signify how different cultures can relate to and work on a common goal of preserving an international treasure.
The competition was launched in November 2017, garnering 84 entries from the Philippines, Chile, Spain, the United States, Israel, Italy, Slovenia, Germany, China, Japan, South Korea, Belarus, Canada, Finland, Malaysia, Russia, Australia, Greece, Norway, Cyprus, Sweden, Singapore, Brazil, Cambodia, Hungary, Germany, Poland, Indonesia, Thailand, Ukraine, Austria, and Armenia.
One of the 20 semi-finalists, Miran Tsalikian of Greece, said that after listening to materials sent by the organizers, he was able to produce his "Crossing the Rice Terraces" symphony inspired by traditional Kalinga and Ifugao rituals.
"My symphonic work was inspired by them. This thing that happened here is a miracle for us foreign (composers) as we (were able) to see the tradition and culture in Banaue," Tsalikian said.
His fellow competitor, Eteri Kourbanov from Israel also shared how she was overwhelmed by the "bright" culture of Ifugaos that compelled her to compose the "Hymn to Nature".
"Everything is bright and colored, these are my influences. I'm eager to further participate in the workshops and discover the unique culture, unique instruments, and unique music in Banaue to know deeper. I'm sure my best compositions will be influenced by these," she said.
The initiative is also proving successful in raising awareness, particularly among foreigners.
Italian composer Stefano Giannotti said the competition gave him a chance to appreciate Banaue Rice Terraces as an international heritage site.
"For many of us, this is a very far part of the world. Very rarely that we would come if they did not invite us, not only because it's a long trip but also probably because we don't know much about their culture. This is so important, so well done, this operation," he said.
The 20 semi-finalists, during the intensive immersion program, will tour major sites in Ifugao and familiarize themselves with music and traditions in the region.
Milagros How, chairperson of the restoration project and president of the United Harvester, Inc., said this initiative will show the world "that the Philippines is home to great wonders" that can inspire artists to pursue their craft, be it in music, poetry, or cinema.
Proceeds from the July 25 concert fund the implementation of an action plan to rehabilitate 628 hectares of damaged sections of the rice terraces, starting at the Barangay View Point in Banaue. (PNA/Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)