EN ROUTE TO OSAKA, JAPAN ABOARD PHILIPPINE AIRLINES—Members of the Tagum City Chamber Chorale and the rest of the delegation of the Music Capital of the South knew they have two destinations on this fateful day of January 26, 2018. The sun was up when they left the hotel, but the prospects of no assurance to fly to Japan today seems to paint dark clouds over the horizon.

The delegation knew it’s now or never. Pending the release of a Japanese visa, the group’s participation to the Kobe Sing N’ Pray International Chorale Competition is in perfect limbo. At the airport’s departure area, the group already prepared themselves on the twin possibilities of flying to the Land of the Rising Sun or to trade the winter jackets for light tropical clothing and head home.

We were advised to wait from nine to 11 in the morning for the visa. Weary and uneasy, the group settled at one corner in the airport expecting some good news. Despite the malaise and misfortunes, the group was somewhat brimming with hope.

For those who have witnessed the group’s struggle in the past two days, that hope was somehow puzzling. When they have already encountered the elements that fit for a disaster, they chose to hold on to that little hope that the odds will be at their favor. These elements include hopping from airport terminals to another with heavy luggage in tow, finding cheap hotels, commuting and making calls to people who they thought can extend a helping hand.

The Tagum City Chamber Chorale, composed of employees of the City Government of Tagum, is all set for their first-ever international chorale competition. Since winning its grand slam victory in the National Government Chorale Competition back in September 2017, the group toiled many hours in preparation for this international competition.

Without the visa, that preparation will be in vain. But positivity reigned in.

The hours leading to the final hour was a rollercoaster of emotions. For the members of the group, singing on the sidelines at the airport was a way to ease the uncertainty. But all are well-composed.

Hours ago, before leaving the BP International Hotel in Manila, the group sang “The Lord’s Prayer impromptu, as if its way of storming the heavens with prayers that they be given the good news.

Exactly two hours to go before the last flight to Osaka, the news came in: the visa is out. The trip to Japan is pushing through after all.

The rest is history.