Words, Music and Story by Florante Aguilar
LALAWIGAN (Tagalog for province) is a contemporary sarswela in its full production and a dramatized song cycle as a concert piece. A composition grant by the the San Francisco Arts Commission, LALAWIGAN is set in 1898 in the historically insurgent province of Cavite in the Philippine Islands featuring the heroic characters that history forgot in the Philippine uprising against Spain.
LALAWIGAN revolves around three characters – Macario is inspired and based on history’s legendary rebel, Macario Sakay. Isagani is a fisherman who becomes a revolutionary spy by night, and Candida a.k.a. Didang is a peasant woman who paid a terrible price for aligning with the revolution.
LALAWIGAN is a redefinition of the vanished tradition of the Philippine sarswela, a light operetta that was openly staged in public but cloaked as satire against the Spanish rule. Due to its nationalistic streak, many patriotic songs of the past were written for the sarswela that are still famous to this day.
As a result, sarswela was breeding ground for many illustrious Filipino composers. Lalawigan uses a contemporary musical style that is rooted in the Philippine traditional forms such as the harana and kundiman and is written in archaic Tagalog evocative of the classic Balagtasan form of poetry.