HOME OF ORCHESTRAS. The town of Basista in Pangasinan is known for its orchestra bands which have existed since the 1950s. The town will again hold the Orchestra Festival to honor and celebrate the music of the orchestras. (Photo courtesy of Liwayway Yparraguirre)

BASISTA, Pangasinan – Timeless music from the province's finest orchestras will fill the air during the two-day Orchestra Festival in this municipality from March 24 to 25.

Bordered by big localities like San Carlos City, Urbiztondo, Bayambang, and Malasiqui towns, this town is known as the "hometown of famous orchestras."

Launched in 2016, the Orchestra Festival was created to promote orchestral music to the public, especially to the younger generation. This year's celebration carries the theme, "Musika Natin Mula Noon, Ipamana sa Bagong Henerasyon."

“The people of Basista and the visitors will feast with beautiful music from seven orchestras strategically situated at the side of the national highway, and food from local vendors at the food strip located at the other side of the highway,” said Basista Mayor Jolly Resuello.

"Simple lang ang hangarin namin, magbigay kasiyahan sa ating mga kababayan, masilayan ang kanilang mga ngiti habang nakikinig ng musika dahil noong pandemic, ito ay nawala, sila ay natakot, hindi nakakalabas ng bahay (Our goal is simple and that to give joy to our town mates, to see them smile while listening to the music because during the height of the pandemic, this was not done, people are afraid, they were not able to go out of their houses),” he said.

In 2019, the local government unit (LGU), with help from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCAA), conducted a "cultural heritage mapping" to trace the origins of the town's orchestras and found out that at least eight of Basista's orchestras can trace their roots to the Caranto Family, which established the Paradise Orchestra in the 1950s.

“This [mapping] was started sometime in 2019 and was completed after the pandemic. The LGU has published the outcome of the mapping or research and this was launched last year. Part of it is the Mapping of Significant Intangible Cultural Heritage,” he said.

In the 1950s, the only musical instruments the Paradise Group played were snare drum, wooden guitar, "tambol," (drum) and the baho de arko, which measured 5x2 feet, the biggest and tallest string instrument they ever had.

The group provided live music during weddings, fiestas, and Christmas at a time when there were still no sound systems and electric instruments in the town.

Since the band members were all from Sitio Paraiso (formerly known as Tambolong) in Barangay Dumpay, people started calling the town as the home of orchestras and musicians.

“As the Caranto clan grew, the family members and relatives put up their own orchestras all over Basista," Resuello said.

The following are the homegrown orchestras that will be simultaneously performing on separate stages on the evening of March 24: Alex Caranto Orchestra, Esting Caranto Orchestra, Rudy Mac Orchestra, Joe Caranto Orchestra, Zisoy Caranto Harmony Orchestra, Don Podring De Guzman Orchestra, and Ben Caranto Orchestra.

The two remaining orchestras in town are the Prudence Mega Orchestra and the Adoy Caranto Mega Boys Orchestra.

Meanwhile, the national road (town proper) will be closed from March 24 at 8 a.m. to March 25 at 8 a.m. as part of the rerouting scheme for the festival.

Through Executive Order 8, classes in all levels in public and private schools, and work in local government (except the offices involved in disaster reduction and management, peace and order, infrastructure, health, and social services) were also canceled on Friday. (PNA)