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March 11, 2011

National Artist of the Philippines - Atang Dela Rama

Honorata "Atang" Dela Rama
Theater and Music (1987)

Honorata "Atang" Dela Rama was formally honored as the Queen of Kundiman in 1979, then already 74 years old singing the same song ("Nabasag na Banga") that she sang as a 15-year old girl in the sarsuela Dalagang Bukid. Atang became the very first actress in the very first Tagalog film when she essayed the same role in the sarsuela's film version. As early as age seven, Atang was already being cast in Spanish zarzuelas such as Mascota, Sueño de un Vals, and Marina. She counts the role though of an orphan in Pangarap ni Rosa as her most rewarding and satisfying role that she played with realism, the stage sparkling with silver coins tossed by a teary-eyed audience. Atang firmly believes that the sarswela and the kundiman expresses best the Filipino soul, and has even performed kundiman and other Filipino songs for the Aetas or Negritos of Zambales and the Sierra Madre, the Bagobos of Davao and other Lumad of Mindanao.

Among the kundiman and the other songs she premiered or popularized were Pakiusap, Ay, Ay Kalisud, Kung Iibig Ka and Madaling Araw by Jose Corazon de Jesus, and Mutya ng Pasig by Deogracias Rosario and Nicanor Abelardo. She also wrote her own sarswelas: Anak ni Eba, Aking Ina, and Puri at Buhay.

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