‘Surprise’ no more: Reactions after identity of SONA 2023 national anthem singer bared

July 21, 2023 - 1:22 PM
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Lara Maigue
Soprano Lara Maigue at the ABS-CBN compound in this photo from her Instagram on April 2, 2023 (laramaigue/Instagram)

The “surprise” is no longer a surprise.

The identity of the singer of the national anthem to be sung in President Ferdinand Marcos Jr‘s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) is now revealed barely a week after it was said to be a “surprise.”

House secretary general Reginald Velasco on Friday, July 21 revealed that soprano Lara Maigue would perform “Lupang Hinirang” in the second SONA on Monday, July 24.

“Ang balita namin, there will be a singer ng Pambansang Awit natin. Ang pangalan niya ay Lara Maigue. Tinignan namin ‘yun sa YouTube. Very famous pala siya,” he said to TeleRadyo Serbisyo.

Last Monday, Velasco said to the media that a “surprise” celebrity singer will perform the national anthem.

“Up to now, I have to admit, surprise, kasi gusto ng tatlong grupo — Senate, HREP [House of Representatives] and then the Office of the President — gusto naman nila may excitement so, ano ‘yun, surprise din. Malalaman niyo na. Ang tip ko lang, isang tao lang,” he said before.

“Palagay ko, sikat naman ‘yun,” Velasco said when he was asked if the personality is popular. He didn’t reveal the gender of the singer before.

He added that a choir from Tacloban, Leyte — the district of House Speaker Martin Romualdez — will sing the national anthem in the morning session.

They will also serenade guests in the main lobby after the president’s SONA in the afternoon.

In Marcos’ first SONA, the Ilocano choir Samiweng Singers performed the “Lupang Hinirang.”

Meanwhile, the reveal of the national anthem singer for the second SONA earned questions from some online Filipinos who recalled that the singer’s identity was supposed to be a “surprise.”

“Oh, akala ko ba surprise? Lol,” a Twitter user commented to the reports.

“Surprise tapos in-announce? Iba talaga topak niyo ano? Pero sabagay, hindi naman siya sikat,” another Pinoy claimed.

“Luh g*go ‘di na surprise!” a different Twitter user partly exclaimed.

Others questioned the need to have a certain individual perform the national anthem on an occasion that highlights a presidential address, and not a performance.

“LOL. Bakit kasi may surprise peformer. Ano ba ‘yang SONA, concert? T**na palala [nang] palala ‘tong gobyerno na ‘to eh. Puro aesthetic ang paandar,” a Twitter user wrote.

Another user commented that they “do not care” who the performer is, “as long as the national anthem is sung properly and correctly.”

Lara is a classically trained soprano who graduated from the University of the Philippines’ College of Music with a major in Voice.

Reports said she has performed with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and the Manila Symphony Orchestra. She is said to have upcoming projects which involve Broadway concerts abroad.

Lara is managed by veteran singer Ogie Alcasid, the husband of “Asia’s Songbird” Regine Velasquez.

Last month, the soprano went viral for effortlessly belting out “Queen of the Night,” a classic Mozart piece that she sang while “casually sitting at a table in her party gown” at a private event.

Lara was also recognized by the Aliw (Entertainment) Awards Foundation as Best Female Classical Performer for 2017 and Best Female Crossover Artist for 2018. She likewise won Best Jazz Recording at the 2019 Awit (Sing) Awards.

The soprano also became one of the lead actors in the TV5 musical teleserye “Trenderas,” where she was nominated for Outstanding Breakthrough Performance by an Actress at the Golden Screen TV Awards.