D.C. community serenades veterans with ‘Dahil Sa Iyo’

Tenor Allan Palacios Chan and soprano Justine Moral sing ‘Dahil Sa Iyo’ and Broadway classics. Photos: Jon Melegrito

Before ending “An Evening of Opera and Jazz,” tenor Allan Palacios Chan and soprano Justine Moral sang “Dahil Sa Iyo” (“Because of You”) before an enchanted audience of 50 guests.

They listened for an hour with rapt attention, even as a steady falling rain tried to steal the show.

“We want to dedicate this song to our Filipino World War II Veterans, and thank them for their service and sacrifice,” Allan said. Halfway through their duet, they invited everyone to sing along  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gqjdqwua1Q0.

Originally written as a poem by Jose Corazon de Jesus in 1929 and set to music by Constancio de Guzman, the significance of the song was not lost on some in the audience. 

“It served as a protest song by Filipino nationalists during the American occupation of the Philippines,” said Sonny Busa, a professor of Philippine and American military history and a board member of FilVetREP. “And since the evening’s theme is to benefit FilVetREP’s campaign to repeal the 1946 Rescission Act, the community singing of  “Dahil Sa Iyo” was even more meaningful. We are protesting how America unjustly treated our veterans 77 years ago.”

By then, the rain had stopped. The hearty applause and standing ovation capped a memorable evening of music that filled a private home’s open porch by the woods in Herndon, Virginia. Thunderstorms and a heavy downpour hours earlier did not dampen the spirits of everyone who came.

In his opening remarks before the concert, FilVetREP Chairman Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret) underscored the impact of the Rescission Act on the more than 260,000 Filipino soldiers who served under the American flag.

“It tarnished their honor and brought pain and sorrow upon their lives and their families. We must close this dark chapter in U.S. history and restore the honor and dignity of our heroes who were betrayed by America’s broken promise,” he said.

The fundraising dinner is attended by DC community leaders, such as Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), Marie Blanco, Bing & Bill Branigin, Sonny & Ceres Busa, Hieu Nguyen, Brittany Peterson, Ben de Guzman, and Jon Melegrito.

Music of the night

The evening event of September 9, which started with cocktails at 5 o’clock, included renditions of jazz, some opera, and musical theater selections from “The King and I,” “My Fair Lady,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Miss Saigon” and “The Sound of Music.”  Allan and Justine alternated in performing vocal solos, with duets in between and at the end. Altogether, they sang 15 songs, including an encore number. They were accompanied by pianist Wei-Han Wu and percussionist TJ Maistros.

Both Allan Palacios Chan and Justine Moral are from the Washington, D.C. area. They are accomplished stage performers and widely-hailed musicians. Both have sung the national anthems at FilVetREP events, notably on the Day of Valor at the National World War II Memorial.

FilVetREP’s event coordinator Lida Peterson organized the evening concert to raise funds which will be needed in a national campaign to repeal the Rescission Act. She was assisted by Marie Blanco, Bing Branigin, Sonny & Ceres Busa, Hieu Nguyen, Brittany Peterson and Jon Melegrito.

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