The Loboc Children’s Choir
The angelic voices of the Loboc Children’s Choir wafted through the cold evening air rendering motionless and mesmerized all those who heard them! At the end of their repertoire they were greeted with the loudest applause and standing ovation.
So it was when I attended a concert of the Choir in Talibon in honor of the Blessed Trinity during its fiesta celebration. At a loss for words and in the brink of tears, their songs lifted me up to heavenly heights. Their voices were so pure, the notes so clear and the kids so well trained and disciplined, you cannot help but appreciate their performance. No wonder, the group garnered so many gold medals during music competitions here in the Philippines and abroad.
At present, the group has become an attraction for both local and foreign visitors alike. Many who visit and tour Bohol include in their itinerary a schedule (if any) of the group’s concerts. Others content themselves to listening to the group as they practice in Loboc, their hometown then buying their CD’s which are available at the convent of St. Peter the Apostle Church.
The Loboc Children’s Choir was founded in 1980 under the able tutelage of a 5th grade teacher named Alma Fernando-Taldo who established the choir initially to grace school and community affairs in the town of Loboc. Through selfless dedication, the musically inclined and talented Ma’am Taldo steered the children to unforeseen heights that brought fame and honor, not only to their town, but to the province of Bohol and to the whole Philippine archipelago.
The group is composed of schoolchildren ages nine to thirteen who attend the Loboc Central Elementary School. They participate in school, town and provincial activities aside from being heard in prisons, hospitals, homes for the aged and orphanages. Its concert repertoire is a combination of classical, modern, folk and children’s songs.
Eventually, thru sheer hard work, the group became national champion in 1993 during the National Music Competitions for Young Artists (NAMCYA) – Children’s Choir Category, which is the most prestigious music competition in the Philippines. They also garnered 1st place in 1995 and 2001 respectively.
In the year 1999, they performed with the World Youth Orchestra in concerts held in Bohol and Cebu, and with the University of Santo Tomas Symphony Orchestra. Aside from these concerts, they also performed in front of visiting dignitaries, and local and foreign tourists.
Finally given the chance to perform abroad in 1996, the group held a concert dubbed, “On Angels’ Wings: From Bohol to the World”and toured key cities in the United States. In the year 2000, the group was seen performing in Tianjin, China during the International Children’s Culture and Arts Festival. While in China, they were able to perform in Beijing and then in Hong Kong.
2003 was a very busy year for the Loboc Children’s Choir. They performed during an exhibit on the arts and culture of Bohol which was held in Manila. Followed by a Christmas Concert Tour in major business establishments in Makati and Ayala Alabang, it climaxed with a command performance for Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain during her visit to the Philippines.
In line with the Heritage Conservation Program in the Province of Bohol, the group performed back-to-back with the University of the Philippines Singing Ambassadors (UPSA) in a concert entitled “An Evening of Heaven’s Music”. The UPSA also garnered the grand prize in 2001 during the 49th Concorso Polifonico Internazionale Guido d’Arezzo in Arezzo, Italy.
September to November of 2003, the group went on its 1st European Concert Tour and represented the Philippines in the 6th International Folksongs Festival “Europe and its Songs” held in Barcelona, Spain. They won the gold medal in the Youth Category and were also awarded the Festival Cup or Grand Prize for getting the highest point average of 97.5, besting 12 other choirs from all over the world. Other concerts were held in The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, and Switzerland.
In July 2004, the Loboc Children’s Choir performed in Korea during the World Vision 2004 International Children’s Choir Festival. They performed alongside other children’s choir from Australia, U.S.A., Hong Kong, and Korea, bringing the message of hope, peace, and love to the world.
About the Musical Director and Conductor
When talking about the Choir’s achievements, one should not forget to honor the person behind all these – Alma Fernando-Taldo, the group’s musical director and conductor. Without her selfless and dedicated effort, the children would not reach the heights that they are on now.
Ma’am Taldo, as she is often called, is a 5th grade teacher of the Loboc Central Elementary School, teaching English and Character Education. Her paternal grandfather was her first mentor in music which led her to attend solfeggio classes later. She attended music workshops conducted by Filipino musicians like Ed L. Manguiat of the UP Singing Ambassadors; Dr. Ramon Santos, Chino Toledo, and Mrs. Andrea Veneracion of the Philippine Madrigal Singers; and Dr. Francisco Feliciano.
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