Three claps silenced the whole place. Everyone transfixed their gaze to the person on the stage, the Executive Director of Alliance Française de Manille, Jean Pierre Dumont. He announced that the show will start in a while.
I proceeded to my seat right after a glass of wine. The Press Attaché of the Embassy of France to the Philippines, Camille Eva Marie Conde, informed me that the VIPs will be taking the front seat. And if I want, I can stay there, but I said I am not at any sense a VIP. After realizing the amount of people in the room, I eventually accepted her invitation. Besides, I thought that it would be a good chance to take good photos of the performer. The man they call as the Little Prince of the Six-Strings, Thibault Cauvin.
It still took a while before the performance started. Hence, I had time to ponder upon things.
The tattoo at my back started to itch. My friend told me before that as time passes and when the wound starts to heal, I will feel the urge to scratch it as much as I can, but it would not be advisable because it might bleed. And worse, end I might end up erasing the cultural ink tapped on my skin by the heiress of Apo Whang Od, Grace.
I feel proud since I had this tattoo. It’s like I can boast around showing the heritage of our country to everyone. Though there is one person whom I think can do that better than me, Engr. Sharlyn Base Borja. She was that strong and courageous woman that I met when I was in Buscalan for the second time. Until now, I cannot imagine how she managed to get three tattoos in the traditional way—she had a long arrow along her right ribcage, a baybayin that says “Mandirigma” at the upper right shoulder, and of course, the most important one, Apo Whang Od’s signature. She was indeed a woman warrior, withstanding all the pain for the sake of living as an authentic manifestation of the Filipino heritage.
Once more, Monsieur Jean-Pierre called the audience’s attention with his claps. He welcomed everyone to the Les Jeudis Culturels or Cultural Thursdays, a monthly event that they have organized so as to share the French Culture to the Philippines and likewise promote the Philippine Culture. It happens every last Thursday of each month.
With not much ado about nothing, just like how Shakespeare would say it, a young guy, which I thought around mid to late twenties entered from the door on the side. Everyone applauded.
He entered the room with a big smile and a guitar on his right hand.
There was a bench at the center of the stage, just right at the middle of the two Eiffel Towers on both sides. Now, Thibault sat in front of us. Without losing his smile, he started to introduce himself and share some personal experiences.
Thibault mentioned that he was born with a guitar on his hand. He explained that it was because his father was also a composer and a musician. With such foregrounding, I felt an instant connection with him. Not because I am nor my father was a musician or a composer, but due to the fact he opened himself to his audience, just like how writers do in their craft.
Though the separation of the writer from his work is normally practiced, it is undeniable that bits and piece of the author’s life is connected to his work. Just what one of my friends said, the piece did not come out of a vacuum. It was a product of every pain, sorrow, struggle, and happiness of the writer; therefore, we cannot do away with their propinquity. Just like a father to his son and Thibault to his father.
Thibault is well-travelled man due to his international performances. He is also “a multi-award-winning guitarist. Having first learned to play the instrument from his father, he then went on to better his craft at the Bordeaux Conservatory and the National Superior Conservatory of Paris. At the age of 20, he became the most decorated guitarist in the world – winning 36 awards, 13 of which are for first place – earning him the title of the “Little Prince of Six-Strings.”” With such experience, he had even collaborated with different people across the globe. That is why this concert aimed to bring people in “A musical voyage around the world through the sound of his guitar”.
The title Little Prince of the Six-Strings was a big claim by the critics of Thibault, I thought, until he started playing.
I closed my eyes when he started, because I wanted to internalize the sensation of being indulged in a musical journey. And I have proven something; he was not named as “The Little Prince of the Six-Strings” just for nothing. As he played his piece entitled Buenos Aires which was inspired by the place itself, my right foot started to groove and tap following the rhythm of his every pluck and strum. I was like in a trance seeing the people dancing under his music while my eyes were closed. At the moment, his title was justified to me.
You know that feeling t when you are watching a musical on stage, it was exactly as that. The only difference was you can see it even without looking. This was indeed Thibault’s magic. He can bring you into places without even needing to buy you a plane ticket. All you need to do is seatback, relax, and savor the moment.
Few of his compositions in collaboration with other artists were played. Every time he finish, the audience gave him a resounding applause which seems to never end. I even heard praises spoken in different languages. Then little by little, we will all be back in 209 Nicanor Garcia, Barangay Bel-Air II, Makati at Alliance Française de Manille.
After playing his supposedly last piece and saying merci beaucoup, the audience, which did not exempt me, cheered for more. And luckily, he came prepared. He brought one important piece with him. Not something that he composed, but a work of his father. A gift composed for Thibault’s thirteenth birthday. Everyone went silent and continued to get mesmerized by The Little Prince of the Six-Strings until the concert ends.
The guests approached Thibault after his performance. Some asked for his signature and the rest stayed to have a chat. Me on the other hand went to Camille and asked if I can have a moment with Thibault to interview him.
While in the holding room, there was only one valid question that I thought on that moment. That was whether if Thibault had also found an inspiration to write a composition for the Philippines, because I have just noticed that all of his pieces where about places that he had been. He answered positively and added that he will surely be back in the Philippines with new pieces, and maybe, one of them will be about Manila. And that is something to look forward.
Before leaving the Alliance Française, I got a message: Meet me at Plaza Olivia Salamanca at 4pm this Saturday.