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By José Abeto Zaide

Jose Abeto Zaide

It was an evening to remember.

One of the prized possessions of Anthony Jude Violago at his Makati retreat is his Steinway de cola. (It was a Grotjian-Steinweg, before it was Anglicized into “Steinway.”) I have heard his twin nephews Enzo and Santi do chopsticks on the keyboard… and seen his 5-year-old niece Ely Pie strike the keys like it was a familiar piece of furniture.

Little did I suspect the provenance of this grand daddy until Willem van Suijdam of Manila Pianos revealed it to be the last surviving grand piano by the master Theodore Steinway.

A famous artist opined, “Steinway is the only piano on which the pianist can do everything he wants… and everything he dreams.”

***

Last June 7, the ivory finally felt a familiar master’s touch. Claude Diallo was a visiting Swiss pianist-composer performing at the Alliance Francaise, thanks to a joint venture between the Swiss and French embassies. Antony invited Claude in between his concert engagements to play on his Steinway.

Anthony introduced the artist to his guests, which included Mrs. Imelda Marcos, muse and patroness of the arts, and former Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and his wife Louse Cacho Araneta Marcos. Guests were either high or highbrow, like Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi and PNOC President Reuben C. Lista, diplomats, artists, dilettantes, and of course the padre de familia, Anthony’s father, Oscar Violago.

The artist opened with his composition “Yours”; and followed with “If I Were a bell” (Frank Loesser) and “Take the A-Train” (Duke Ellington), before two more of his own compositions, “I Found a New Home” and “Ray Santisi.” He joined Mrs. Marcos, Oca Violago, and the highborn and highbrow at the table for an evening repast.

After dinner, Claude returned to the Steinway and played “Take Five” (Dave Brubeck) and another one of his own composition, “Spring is Back, and So am I,” before jamming with our tenor Arthur Manutag in “All the Things You Are” (Jerome Kern), “Night and Day” (Cole Porter), and “You Make Me Feel So Young.”

Two women of consequence also found the Steinway irresistible and took turns at the ivory (Serla Russel and Ingrid Sta. Maria), before Claude capped the evening with another original composition, “Foz do Iguacu.”

With the Steinway left all to himself, Herr Suijdam diddled a familiar ditty (which Gary Lising remembers with the following lyrics):

“May isang babaeng mahilig sa boogie.

Ayaw pa sa akin, gusto pa sa Navy…”

***

When told about our Las Piñas Bamboo Organ, Claude expressed keen interest to visit the St. Joseph parish church where the treasure is housed. He could not suppress a twinkle in his eye when someone dangled the possibility of his playing the bamboo organ. If it materializes, that may be the first razzmatazz performed on this jewel of a musical instrument, which, to our knowledge, has only played somber church music.

***

When it rains, it pours.

When the twins Santino “Santi” Jose Ma. Violago Tanjutco and Lorenzo “Enzo” Jose Ma. Violago Tanjutco graduated with top honors, the parents Maria Lourdes Violago Tanjutco and Atty. Ryan L. Tanjutco could not contain their joy.

Enzo delivered the welcome remarks for the Everest Middle School graduating class 2017. He shared the mantra of his lolo Oscar Violago: “Believe in yourself. And trust in the Lord.” Then, one after another, Enzo and Santi took turns climbing the stage to receive their medals and citations.

To those that hath, more shall be given. Enzo received the Integer Homo (highest award given by Everest Academy, which comes with a four-year scholarship); the Principal’s Award for Academic Excellence (highest GPA of the batch) and six subject awards (History, Literature, Grammar, Technology, Basic Filipino, Catholic Formation).

Santi received the Semper Altius Award and the Leadership Award. Both boys received the Gold Medal (GPA of 4.0), and were Conquest Club leaders, Knights of the Altar, and members of the School Band

Their classmate Angela Ang received the Integer Mulier (the highest award female equivalent), Gianella Rose Garcia also received a Semper Altius Award, and several more students received medals. But the brightest constellation of gold medals revolved around Enzo and Santi.

Present at the ceremony was their younger brother Manu, who will also be graduating next school year to uphold the family tradition. Proud grandfather of the clan was our classmate Oca Violago. Beside him was son Anthony Jude (the ninong of the twins) and the other daughter Princess (with her daughter Rafaella, the diminutive other princess of the clan).

***

A classmate and dorm mate at Bellarmine Hall, Toting Bunye, remembers Oca as a “middle of the pack” of our graduating class. It takes three generations to bring in top model?

Oca devoutly wished that his professors could have seen his grandsons walk up the stage to harvest the gold medals (especially our national artist Rolando Tino, who said that drawing something out of Oca was like squeezing water out of stone). If Tinio only knew the genes that he had within, Oca thought to himself.

Feedback: joseabetozaide@gmail.com

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