Friday, August 26, 2011

The Music Man of Samar

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another weekend. Yes, today’s title was inspired by the late Maestro Jose Gomez. And before anything else, it’s nice to note that we will all be into a long weekend. Now a question, are all Filipinos aware why we will be into a long weekend? (Suddenly I miss PGMA and those Monday holidays). Anyway, thanks to our heroes and Eidl Fitr most of my friends will be Out of Calbayog City until Tuesday (hmm, that line sound familiar)

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Let me give you something to smile about this week: Robinson’s is coming to Calbayog. It’s official, by that I mean the LGU has received a communication from Robinson’s Land Corporation (RLC) and that it is “contemplating the development of a first-class shopping center in Calbayog.” Consistent with the RLC mission to provide the public with an excellent shopping experience, the proposed project will feature a full-service mall that will include the various Robinson’s retail store, popular shops and restaurants, and several entertainment facilities.

More details in my forthcoming columns.

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Here is the continuation of the article on Jose Gomez, the Music Man of Samar. As I have earlier mentione, the late Jose Gomez was honored during the 1st Bahandi Samarnon Awards. I got this material from Carl Bordeos of CKC. Here’s the second part:

The Cecilian Band. The coming of Patria Ortega (later on Mrs. Angelo Consunji) from Sta. Isabel Conservatory of Music in Manila, became the rallying point for local music enthusiasts like Pablo Rueda, Crispulo Madolaria and Jose Gomez, to name a few. They decided to organize a band called ‘Cecilian’ after Saint Cecilia, the Patron of Music.”

“On April 11, 1927, at the age of 16, Jose composed ‘Mirza’. He sent it to Malaquias Nonato, then the famous bandleader of the Hongkong-based Philippine International Band. However, the composition was returned to him with suggestions for improvement. Dejected and depressed, this caused the young Jose to refuse taking his meals for weeks. After he gathered his senses, he took the incident as a lifelong challenge.”

“When Patria (Ortega) got married, the Cecilians disbanded. Jose went to Cebu to try his luck. His primary motive for the move was to learn orchestration. Within a week, he landed the job as pianist in the place of Metring Ilaya at the Cebu Blues.”

“When the owner of the orchestra noticed his musical talents, he was given the full freedom to compose, arrange and conduct his compositions. This time he wrote ‘Phantom of the Blues’, ‘An Kabu’ (better known as ‘Awit San Cecilians’), ‘Dreamy Moon’ and ‘Love At Last’. With his savings, he was able to purchase an alto saxophone.”

“After three years in Cebu, his mother, concerned about his future, requested him to return home. Upon his return to Calbayog, he was told to pack for Manila for further studies. The proposal did not appeal to Jose. Instead, he revived the Cecilian. He found the membership of the band almost intact with the exception of Adriano Castillo, the drummist who had moved to Iloilo with his sister. Jose became the Cecilian’s bandleader.”

The woman who held him helplessly. Jose went places in Samar and Leyte with his well-known Cecilian Band. During performances, he held the audience, especially the women spellbound with his ubiquitous clarinet. But only one woman held him helplessly. It was Francisca Soriano Lazaro, a young teacher at the San Policarpo Elementary School. Francisca was from Sta. Cruz, Manila. She was brought to Calbayog in 1932 by a relative.”

“They were married on March 28, 1936. This union was blessed with seven children – four boys and three girls. They are Cecilia, Antonio, Mariano, Virginia, Manuel and Remegio.”

World War II. Because he demonstrated leadership in the community, Jose was appointed as Assistant Supervisor for Civilian Defense of District One of Calbayog City. He later became the Chief Deputy Municipal Air Raid Warden.”

“At the beginning of 1942, he was inducted by Capt. Mariano Lim as secret operative of the guerilla movement. On March, he closely monitored and investigated the stream of evacuees coming into Samar from Manila via Legaspi. On June, he was formally inducted into the USAFFE and was given the assignment of organizing the Secret Service Operations in the Calbayog area. He organized two communication points from Calbayog to the guerilla camp in Malaga and another relay point from Migara to Catarman. Before Christmas he was given another assignment to destroy the Labuyao bridGe mn order to cut the supply line of the Japanese between Calbayog and Oquendo. During this operation, his sole support was Corporal Pedro Cano and one Enfield rifle.”

The Musician-Guerillas. At this point, Jose was to make a special contribution to the guerilla activity by joining with it his gift for making music. Using his persuasive logic, he moved the entire Cecilian Band to join the guerillas.”

“In early February 1945, he went to the left river of Oquendo with the band members to entertain and to build up the morale as well as to disseminate allied information to the civilian population. On March of the same year, under the very noses of the Japanese, he was once again stationed in Calbayog to gather information on enemy movements. A Lt. Soliman called him to a meeting and on May, he was ordered to report to the headquarters of the 98th Regiment of the 93rd Division of the AUSA in Brgy. Kalagundi-an. On July 16th, he was called into active duty with the rank of probationary 3rd Lieutenant and was assigned to conduct the said division.” (to be continued)

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Wedding Bells. Justin Justina and Ethel Bendanillo will get married tomorrow. Fr. Iluminado Paulino will preside over the wedding mass at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. Fr. James Roa, the Medical Director of St. Camillus Hospital will deliver the homily. Reception will be held at the Ballroom of Ciriaco Hotel.

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This is it for now. Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

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