David A. Jones

Composer, Performer

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Isang Punongkahoy ("A Tree")

Tenor voice and piano

Eleven years ago, I served as a missionary for two years in the Philippines. It was a challenging, transformative, and life-changing experience, one that has had a significant impact on my world view and artistic voice. During my assignment, I studied and gained fluency in Tagalog, and I fell in love with the Filipino people, language, and culture. I came across this poem by Huseng Batute in a recent effort to reconnect with this part of myself, with the Tagalog language, and with the Filipino culture and community. I was struck by the poem's somber tone and vivid natural imagery. The poet compares himself to a tree by a stream, once full of life and beauty but now bowed down and withered with age. The text is a meditation on man's relationship with God and the inevitability of death.