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"Ang Una't Huling Bituin ng Pilipinas" - Nicanor G. Tiongson
Today marks the 28th death anniversary of the Philippines massive star, Honorata “Atang” de la Rama born on January 11, 1902, and died in 1991. She is hailed as the Queen of Kundiman in 1979 at the tender age of 79. Also formally recognized as a National Artists for Theater and Music by Former President Corazon Aquino for Honorita’s love and passion for her craft especially her devotion to Filipino theater and music.
Atang was exposed to the theater at a very young age because of her older sister’s husband coincidentally being a zarzuela composer. Already being cast in zarzuelas such as “Mascota”, “Sueño de un Vals”, and “Marina”. Despite just being 7-years-old when she first starred in zarzuelas, that was already the start of a long and fruitful career. At 14-years-old, she starred as “Angelita” in a zarzuela named “Dalagang Bukid” in 1917. Two years after, it was produced into a full-length film, where she popularized the song “Nabasag ang Banga”.The amount of attention she got was uncanny, there came a point where transportation is the only place she could rest, despite the busy schedule, she really loved what she was doing-- and it shows.
She brought Kundiman with her everywhere, around the Philippines and even the world. Visiting different locations and just performing, sharing the talents of the Filipinos and was considered to be one of the best singers in the Philippines in the first half of the 20th century. In addition to Atang being a singer and actress, she also wrote several zarzuelas, skits, and lyrics.
Not only was she an icon for Filipino Theater and Music but was also loud in being a presence and supporter for several groups such as Kaisahan ng Kababaihan sa Pilipinas, Red Cross Fund Drive, Confederation of Labor Organization, the Home Nursing Association, the Gagalangin Ladies Association, and the Girl Scouts of the Philippines. Later in her life, she also supported groups like PETA Babaylan and GABRIELA. She was an inspiration and one of the people who paved the way for the possibility of the industry that we have now.