Famous Rondalistas

Rondalla Pioneers
Pedro Buencamino (1866-1923) Buencamino was born in Abucay, Bataan. In his hometown he learned how to play the guitar and the bandurria. When he moved to Manila, he ventured into business of repairing stringed instruments. In addition, he manufactured guitars, bandurrias, violins, violoncellos, basses, and harps. It took him three days to make one guitar and about a week to finish a violin. He developed an octavilla (octavina) and a piccolo of his own design.
Victorino Carrion (1872-1935) Carrion was a famous opera singer (tenor) and voice-culture instructor. How he became a musician is interesting: whenever he had a couple of centavos in his pocket he would give them to a beggar who played the guitar and he would urge the beggar to teach him how to play the instrument. He soon learned to play the mandolin and the bandurria as well. Then he began teaching the art to the youngsters in his neighborhood. He organized the Comparza Santa Cecilia in 1908.
Manuel Antonio Mata Besides the piano and the organ, Mata also played the guitar, the bandurria, and the harmonium.
Natalio Mata Mata taught individual persons how to play piano, flute, and guitar.
Leonardo Silos (1826-1910) Silos befriended a private music teacher, and this teacher taught him how to play the guitar. After mastering a book on the guitar, Silos gave guitar lessons. When the bandurria, the mandolin, and the laud were introduced in the Philippines and became popular, he also taught the playing of these instruments until 1909.
Rosario Silos (1862-1896) Originally a pianist, Silos gave up the piano and studied the flute under his father, who also taught him how to play the guitar.
Telesforo Sucgang (1855-1916) A native of Banga, Capiz, Sucgang was a painter, sculptor, composer, and educator. His favorite instrument was the ocarina, but he also played guitar, violin, bandurria, and piano.
Nicanor Abelardo (1893-1934) A native of San Miguel, Bulacan, Abelardo was one of the great Filipino composers. He said, "To me the love of music was of such intensity that finally my father consented to teach me solfeggio and the bandurria, which was the favorite instrument, probably because of its being easier to acquire than anything else at that time". He soon learned to play the guitar and at the age of six he surprised and thrilled listeners with his guitar rendition of the "William Tell Overture."
Juan Silos, Jr. A Filipino composer and arranger who is known as the "father of the rondalla." Silos organized several rondalla groups including school rondallas at St. Anthony's Institution, Centro Escolar University, Assumption College, Stella Maris College, College of the Holy Spirit, University of Santo Thomas, and the Far Eastern University. He also organized the "All-Star Filipino Rondalla" in 1949 which displayed its versatility with the performance of Tchaikovsky's "Piano Concert No. 1 in B-flat" and Khatchaturian's "Saber Dance" during Benny Goodman's farewell concert in 1949.
Antonio J. Molina A renowned Filipino composer of instrumental and vocal music, Molina paralleled Juan Silos's enthusiam and artistry in the field. He formed several rondalla groups like the Comparza Joaquin (1905-1913) which played aboard the American Luxury Liner; Rondalla Ideal (1909-1912); Rondalla Filarmonica Juvenal (1913), which was composed of teenagers; and Yellow Taxi Rondalla (1940), which played with a Philharmonic Band conducted by Lucio San Pedro.
Jose Estacion The uncle of Juan Silos, Jr., had two famous rondalla groups: Comparza Gumamela named after the flower worn by its members on the lapel of their white coat in any formal gathering; and Rondalla Apollo (1909), which was formed one Christmas eve at the Matute residence, and whose members belonged to prominent families in Manila. Estacion headed the Conservatory of Amoy, China, and organized the Philippine Rondalla in 1927.
Hilarion Rubio A composer who acted as the consultant for the La Concordia College Rondalla in 1942.
Dalmacio Samarista Samarista Conducted Rondalla Oriental in 1914.
Macario Hernandez Hernandez Succeded Juan Silos Jr. in directing the Centro Escolar College Rondalla.
Bayani Mendoza De Leon A Filipino composer based in the US. During the 1980's, Bayani Mendoza De Leon organized the Pasakat Rondalla and the Samahan Rondalla whose members were young Filipino-Americans in San Diego and Los Angeles, California. The two groups joined up for a recording entitled Pasakat-Samahan Rondalla. Later based in New Jersey, he was the music director, arranger and composer of the University of the Philippines Alumni and Friends Rondalla (UPA&FR), Paaralang Pilipino Foundation Rondalla, and the Foundation For Filipino Artists Rondalla.
Michael Dadap A New York-based guitarist, Dadap organized the Iskwelahang Pilipino Rondalla in Boston which had a concert tour in the Philippines in 1990. Some of his contributions to rondalla literature include the following:
  • Choral Cycle No. 1 for Rondalla
  • Chorus, Ballitaan No. 1 for Rondalla
  • Choral Symphonic Ode for Rondalla
  • Chorus and Orchestra
Angelita Cariaso Pasamba Pasamba is a music director, an accomplished pianist, composer and arranger of choral music, string trios, quartets, and chamber orchestra. An author of a published book on Rondalla Arrangement(Book 1), she is much sought pianist, choral director/music coach in various musical presentations. To her credit, she is the organizer/conductor of two rondalla groups in New York, the Lady of Pardon Rondalla and the Foundation For Filipino Artists Rondalla.
Ricardo Trimillos A Filipino-American ethnomusicologist, Trimillos did research on Tausug music. He organized and ran a rondalla group of Filipino-American and white American students in the University of Hawaai at Manoa where he has chaired and taught at the Music Department.
Enrico Pio Toledo Toledo presented a rondalla festival on November 12, 1978, at the Main Theater (now Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines featuring his four rondalla groups: Don Bosco-Tondo Rondalla, Holy Trinity Academy Rondalla, Hope Christian High School Rondalla, and Pio Valenzuela Elementary School Rondalla.
Rose Puertollano Puertollano was very active with the performances of the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company Rondalla.
Edna Culig University of the Philippines Filipiana Dance Troupe Rondalla, Dominican Daughters of the Immaculate Mother Rondalla
Charlie Valencia Ateneo Grade School Rondalla
Sim Elman Miriam High School Rondalla and UP College of Music Extension Program Rondalla
Daniel Guerrero St. Scholastica's Academy Rondalla at Marikina
Corazon Jimenez Philippine High School for the Arts Rondalla
Bienvenido Jaravata Cubal-cadael School Rondalla (1974-1980)
Rudy de Leon UP College of Music Rondalla
Dr. Joe Peters Dr. Joe Peters is founder of the NUS Rondalla at the National University of Singapore. He has trained many generations of student conductors, performers, arrangers and composers. The NUS Rondalla Library of scores is one of the largest among rondallas in the world. The NUS Rondalla performs actively the whole year round, including overseas, and gives one major concert, Fiesta Rondalla, in March of each year.
Rondalla Composers
Toribio David Born in Hermosa, Bataan, David was superintendent of schools in Bataan and Albay. He is unknown to many musicians, although he is a prolific composer having produced a thick volume of compositions for the military band, small orchestra and rondalla. "Hermosa at Dawn" and the "The Rival" are two of his many overtures for the rondalla. These two works were published in the Musical Journal of Delphin R. Manlapaz.
Antonio J. Molina He is well known in the field of composition and cello playing. He has written several pieces for the rondalla, among them "The Evolution of Paru-Parong Bukid" a variation on the folk song. This was played by the Rondalla, Orchestra and Philharmonic Band of the Yellow Taxicab Company in 1941. Molina has also produced literature.
Capt.Fulgencio Gragera A composition graduate of the Conservatory of Music, University of the Philippines, he won first prizein the rondalla composition contest launched by the Taliba newspaper. His medley of folk songs was used as the contest piece in the Taliba-sponsored rondalla contest in 1970. The folk songs in the medley were "Sa Libis ng Nayon", "Pobreng Alindahaw", "Dandansoy", "Pamulinawen", "Sarung Banggi", "Bahay Kubo", and "O Kaka, O Kaka".
Bayani Mendoza De Leon A composition graduate of the Centro Escolar University Conservatory of Music, he is a writer and a versatile performer on the flute and on rondalla instruments. In 1968 he conducted the C.E.U. Rondalla in a concert featuring his compositions. His symphonic poem "Batong-Buhay" and his "Tatlong Bulaklak" were played. He referred to "Batong-Buhay" as the "first serious attempt to transform the rondalla into a symphonic entity". He added that "the attempt in rondalla composition is to achieve two goals: (1) to show the capacity of the rondalla in interpreting classical music and (2) to give the rondalla a symphonic status".
Octavio V. Cruz An operatic-tenor and a public-school teacher, he wrote music for the rondalla, one of them "March on, Youth" which was published in Manlapaz's Musical Journal.
Lucino T. Sacramento He is a charter member of the Filipino Composer's League, a faculty member of the C.E.U. Conservatory of Music and other music schools, and a composer of operas and concertos. He wrote music for the rondalla.
Jerry Dadap An enterprising young musician with a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of the Philippines Conservatory of Music, he has ventured to write music for the rondalla in a larger scope. He has a rondalla group in addition to his several choirs, one of them being the Andres Bonifacio Choir which is an offshoot of his musical "Andres Bonifacio, Ang Dakilang Anak Pawis".
Famous Rondalla Groups
Comparsa Joaquin (1905-1913) Organized by Antonio J. Molina. Played aboard an American luxury liner in several tours in America.
Comparsa Santa Cecilia (1908) Organized by Victorino Carrion. Gregorio Jose and Jose Carrion were the only male members. The other 10 were girls: Ramona Ponce, Pacita Guidote, Patrocinio Jose, Angelita Rivas, Dolores Jose, Concepcion Rivas, Adelaida Domingo, Prudencia Muyot, Carmen Arevalo, and Carmen Martinez.
Rondalla Ideal (1909-1912) Founded by Antonio J. Molina and directed by him from 1909-1912.
Rondalla Oriental Conducted by Dalmacio Samarista and managed by Estanislao Sikat.
Comparsa Gumamela Named after the flower worn by its members on the lapel of their white coat in any formal gathering. Organized by Jose Estacion.
Rondalla Apollo Formed one Christmas eve at the Matute residence and whose members belonged to prominent families in Manila. Organized by Jose Estacion.
Rondalla Filharmonica Juvenal Organized in 1913 and conducted by Antonio J. Molina. Its members were teenagers and they thrilled music listeners with the quality of their performance as well as with their well-selected repertoire.
Philippine Rondalla Organized and conducted by Jose Estacion in1927 in the Amoy University, China.
Manila Yellow Taxicab Rondalla Organized by the owner of the transportation company on June 11, 1904. Directed and supervised by Antonio J. Molina. The Rondalla was composed of amateur musicians and drivers of the company. It played as a unit and in combination with the Monserrat Philharmonic Band, Yellow Taxi Orchestra and Chorus. The associate conductors of this multiple venture were Honorato Asuncion and Felipe P. de Leon.
La Concordia College Rondalla Organized during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in 1942. The consultant of the group was Hilarion F. Rubio.
Manila Symphonic Rondalla Organized by Antonio J. Molina. He originated the symphonic rondalla and he enlarged the rondalla by adding more instruments, not only those of the original rondalla but also those of the symphony orchestra. Piccolo-bandurria was added and the bandurrias were divided into first, second, and third. Three laud instead of one were employed, each one playing a different part. One octavina was increased to three, each one played a part of its own. The guitar and bass-guitar were increased to three. Other instruments added were one flute, a string contrabass, a piano, tympani, and varied percussion instruments.
Social Welfare Administration (S.W.A.) Rondalla Composed entirely of blind musicians. The group started with an ensemble of three persons and in just a little time six brothers and a sister joined the group and soon it had 25 members., besides the maestro and three vocalist.
Sources:
1978. Filipino Heritage: The Making of a Nation, Volume 9, ed. Alfredo Roces, Manila, Philippines: Lahing Pilipino Publishing.
1994. CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, Volume 5, ed. Nicanor Tiongson, Manila, Philippines: Cultural Center of the Philippines.

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