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Honorata Atang De la Rama: Queen of Kundiman
Posted by Carrie B. Yan on 03/07/2011 02:40 PM

Before Pilita Corrales, Nora Aunor and Regine Velasquez, there was Honorata "Atang" De la Rama. She is one of the most renowned singers of the Philippines in the first half of the 20th-century. Her first taste of stardom was in 1915, when her "Dalagang Bukid" zarzuela became widely accepted by the public. So famous was the "Dalagang Bukid" zarzuela that a film version was also made.

As early as age seven, she was already being cast in Spanish zarzuelas such as
"Marina" and "Mascota, Sueño de un Vals."

She has performed kundiman and other Filipino songs for the Aetas or Negritos of Zambales and the Sierra Madre, the Bagobos of Davao and other Lumad tribes of Mindanao. Because of her singing prowess, she was also able to travel the whole world – in a time where air travel was exclusively for the privileged few.

Among the hundreds of plays that she became part of, she singled out "Pangarap ni Rosa" as her favorite. For her, it was the most rewarding and satisfying role she has played. It was mixed with realism. She vividly recalled how the teary-eyed audience made the stage sparkle with silver coins.

In a 1979 interview with her, she mentioned kundiman and zarzuela best expresses the Filipino soul.

Among the kundiman and other songs she premiered or popularized were "Madaling Araw" and "Kung Iibig Ka" by Jose Corazon de Jesus, "Ay, Ay Kalisud," "Pakiusap," and "Mutya ng Pasig" by Deogracias Rosario and Nicanor Abelardo.

In the latter part of her illustrious career, she also wrote her own zarzuelas. Among them were "Anak ni Eba," "Aking Ina" and "Puri at Buhay."

She was formally honored as the Queen of Kundiman in 1979. She was already 74 years old when the award was given to her, but she was still able to sing "Nabasag na Banga," the song that launched her to stardom.

TAGS: national artist, honorata atang de la rama, theater and film, zarzuela, cultural heritage, kundiman

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