Rondalla Pioneers

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Rondalla Pioneers


Some of the rondalla pioneers
at the beginning of the 20th century:

logoPedro Buencamino(1866-1923)
He 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 and 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.

logoVictorino Carrion(1872-1935)
He 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. Organized Comparza Santa Cecilia in 1908.

logoManuel Antonio Mata
Besides the piano and the organ, he also played the guitar, the bandurria and the harmonium.

logoNatalio Mata
He taught individual persons how to play the piano, the flute, and the guitar.

logoLeonardo Silos(1826-1910)
He befriended a private music teacher and this teacher taught him how to play the guitar. After mastering a book on the guitar, he 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.

logoRosario Silos(1862-1896)
Originally a pianist, he gave up the piano and studied the flute under his father, who also taught him how to play the guitar.

logoTelesforo Sucgang(1855-1916)
A native of Banga, Capiz, he was a painter, sculptor, composer and educator. His favorite instrument was the ocarina, but he also played the guitar, the violin, the bandurria and the piano.

logoNicanor Abelardo(1893-1934)
A native of San Miguel, Bulacan, he 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.

logoJuan Silos, Jr.
A Filipino composer and arranger who is known as the "father of the rondalla". He 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.

logoAntonio J. Molina
A renowned Filipino composer of instrumental and vocal music, he paralleled Juan Silo'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.

logoJose 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. He headed the Conservatory of Amoy, China, and organized the Philippine Rondalla in 1927.

logoHilarion Rubio
A composer who acted as the consultant for the La Concordia College Rondalla. in 1942.

logoDalmacio Samarista
Conducted Rondalla Oriental in 1914.

logoMacario Hernandez
Succeded Juan Silos Jr. in directing the Centro Escolar College Rondalla.


The late 20-th century rondalla pioneers can be classified into two:
those that are foreign-based and those that are Philippine-based.


  • Foreign-based

  • logoBayani Mendoza De Leon
    A Filipino composer based in the US. During the 1980's, he 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. Now based in New Jersey, he is 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..

    logoJoseph Eustace Earl Peters
    the administrative assistant of the National University of Singapore(NUS) Music and Music and Dance programme. He organized the NUS Rondalla and is the Music Director from 1981-1993. Its repertoire consisted of Filipino and Asian folk , classical and contemporary selections.

    logoMichael Dadap
    A New York-based guitarist. He organized the Iskwelahang Pilipino Rondalla in Boston which had a concert tour in the Philippines in 1990. Some of his contributions to rondalla literature are:
    • Choral Cycle No. 1 for Rondalla
    • Chorus, Ballitaan No. 1 for Rondalla
    • Choral Symphonic Ode for Rondalla
    • Chorus and Orchestra

    logoAngelita Cariaso Pasamba
    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.

    logoRicardo Trimillos
    A Filipino-American ethnomusicologist, who 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.


  • Philippine-based

    The Philippine-based rondalla pioneers promoted rondalla music
    through publications, performances and instruction.

    logoEnrico Pio Toledo
    Presented a rondalla festival in 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.

    logoRose Puertollano
    Was very active with the performances of the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company Rondalla.


    Among those who organized their own groups
    in various schools are:

    logoEdna Culig
    University of the Philippines Filipiana Dance Troupe Rondalla, Dominican Daughters of the Immaculate Mother Rondalla

    logoCharlie Valencia
    Ateneo Grade School Rondalla

    logoSim Elman
    Miriam High School Rondalla and UP College of Music Extension Program Rondalla.

    logoDaniel Guerrero
    St. Scholastica's Academy Rondalla at Marikina.

    logoCorazon Jimenez
    Philippine High School for the Arts Rondalla.

    logoBienvenido Jaravata
    Cubal-cadael School Rondalla(1974-1980)

    logoRudy de Leon
    UP College of Music Rondalla


    Source: FILIPINO HERITAGE The Making of a Nation
    (Volume 9) Copyright 1978


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