Mama Sita’s birth centenary concert celebrates her life as Ina, ‘kababayan,’ and ‘kusinera’

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Teresita Reyes, fondly called "Mama Sita" left legacy in advocating for Philippines' culinary heritage. As her family 100th birth anniversary, a musical event was staged to celebrate her life. Image courtesy of Mama Sita Foundation.

Definitely, there’s joy when singing while cooking. Filipino food icon Teresita “Mama Sita” Reyes is said to enjoy humming a tune or two while chopping, and while waiting for her dishes to be cooked.

Besides creating delicious Filipino dishes that left a brand with a legacy named after her, singing was another thing close to her heart. And this is why there were no second thoughts from her family to celebrate her 100th birth anniversary through a musical event.

Dubbed as “Harana Para Kay Mama Sita,” the musical event held last September 29 at the University of the Philippines’ Film Center, brought together the music of different genres that highlighted the different values and aspects of Mama Sita’s life.

Performed by the Andres Bonifacio Concert Choir with Maestro Jerry Dadap as conductor together with the RTU Tunog Rizalia Rondalla, the concert featured folk songs, love songs, and patriotic songs.

The Andres Bonifacio Concert Choir together with RTU Tunog Rizalia Rondalla. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

Clara Reyes-Lapus, president of Mama Sita Foundation and fourth of Mama Sita’s 11 children shared to InterAksyon, “Mahilig siya kumanta. Para sa kanya, life is lived with gusto kaya habang nagtatadtad kumakanta, maski paos. So, music, yung diwa ay naakakapagpaligaya kaya naisip namin yung concert.”

[“She loves to sing. For her, life is to be lived with gusto that’s why while she is chopping (ingredients), she sings even though sometimes she has no voice. The spirit of music gives joy that’s why we thought of coming up with a concert.”]

The foundation also noted that the songs, which was chosen by Dadap illustrate Mama Sita’s life as ina (mother): nourishing her children and grandchildren with wholesome food, unconditional love, and Filipino values; kababayan (fellow countryman, who brings the taste of home to the distant shores our fellow countrymen have reached; and kusinera (cook), who help heighten the role of cuisine in the family, social, and cultural realms.

“She loved God, her family, and her country; and she lived her life and practiced her profession reflecting and teaching those values,” the foundation further said.

Mama Sita together with her family. Image courtesy of Mama Sita Foundation.

The selection of songs presented during the almost two-hour well-received concert include “Sitsiritsit,” “Atin Cu Pung Singsing,” “Ang Dalagang Pilipina,” Saan Ka Man Naroroon, Sinta,” “Alay sa Inang Bayan,” ” Bayan Ko,” “Pilipinas Kong Mahal,” Let There Be Peace on Earth,” and “Awit ng Pagkain – Mama Sita March.”

Among the 27 songs sung in the concert, Reyes-Lapus noted that one of Mama Sita’s favorite is “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” Reyes-Lapus said. “When she was hurt by someone, this is the song she sings.”

She also added that this is the song they sang in Mama Sita’s deathbed. “We surrounded her and sang her this song.”

Soprano Steffanie Quintin singing “Akoy’ Kampupot together with RTU Tunog Rizalia Rondalla. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.