World-Class Filipino Choirmaster | In Sight
I am Ed Manguiat, the founder and conductor of the U.P. Singing Ambassadors For me, music is the totality of your being; it tells a story of a country and the history of the world Because through music, you can convey the contents of your mind and what you feel inside Through music, you can express what happens around you —the story of a country, of wars, of political beliefs and even religious beliefs I was raised in a family and culture in Batangas that do not value music that much When I was young, I thought that I will become a doctor I told myself that I will heal the sick especially children When I became older and entered school, I was exposed in the University of the Philippines (UP) My passion suddenly changed. I wanted music At first, they did not support me in the field of music They begged me to finish a course so that when I don’t succeed here doing my music, I could have something to rely on and to bank on when I get old While studying, I also took outside jobs I handled choral groups as a means of living and that experience of mine helped me in my studies But definitely in the course of time, I was able to prove to my parents before they died that you can also earn through music I am delighted that as I teach music, sometimes my mother watches, sometimes my father They saw how difficult it is to assemble a choir and how hard it is to develop their voice They say, music is my life. It’s true This is my passion. This is what I love doing and I feel happy with teaching I am delighted that those who do not know how to sing before, now knows how I am happy to assemble different people from different places Then after some time, after patience and training, and discipline, they will sing together I’ve already handled 300 choirs Maybe about 60 or 50 corporate choirs It is a huge challenge to teach effectively and affectively as others say It is easy to organize but the challenge lies in maintaining it All these 37 years, I thank God that He’s always with me, guiding me in whatever endeavor I enter into I am proud to be a conductor but I am more happy to be recognized as a father, as a brother, as a friend, as somebody who will guide a young soul who is gifted, intelligent, and responsible Brother Ed is like a father to me because I am really from Davao. So my parents are afar
So if I have problems at school or wherever, I tell Brother Ed right away If there are good news, he is the first one that I tell Actually, I consider him not just as a father but also a grandfather sometimes especially when I accompany him for his check-ups He’s very dedicated When it comes to music, he’s very strict because, of course, he wants to make good music that we will share with others Every rehearsal, he makes sure that each note is sang He knows if there is a mistake in a section and he knows the remedy He aspires to have his singers reach the best version of themselves That is why he always challenges us so we could push our boundaries One of his characteristics as a conductor —and he always say it— he is strict, but full of love I think that’s what molds us That’s very enriching because our skills in music are honed and at the same time we feel loved through Brother Ed’s teaching In the UP Singing Ambassadors, a trainee, while he or she is still a young member of my group, I encourage them to respect authority —that whoever became a member first, even though younger than them, they should obey Also respect for seniority —that they should respect those who became singers before them because these singers made the name for the Singing Ambassadors It is important for me that they are sincere, honest, and has love and concern for each other Up until now, after 37 years, the good camaraderie and music remains, and entertainment for our fellowmen through music I’m very honored and privileged because it is very rare for people to meet a person like Brother Ed — really You’re going to experience everything and every experience, he always tells us whether it is good or bad. It’s always an experience. I guess what makes him so special is his passion which comes from his love of sharing, his gift and sharing joy to people, to friends, family or even random strangers He sees the goodness and beauty in anything, in every person He does not choose whether you are good or not He does not tell you that you are not good, or whether you are ugly or beautiful If he sees the goodness of your heart, he will really take care of you I am very proud to be a Filipino You may not know this—we view Westerners as superior but that is not true In many fields, not only in science, in medicine, especially in the arts, we are much better Proud to be a Filipino! It’s a wonderful evening and it was like a dream I mean when I wake up tomorrow, I would still think it was a dream. Oh no, it’s true! You are wonderful! I always enjoy coming to your shows Most of all I appreciate the role that you’re doing for us abroad because you’re bringing Philippine culture through music Filipinos are known for their musical talents. I think you’ve shown the best University of the Philippines Singing Ambassadors, Conductor Ed Maguiat!
As representatives of our country and of the university, when we join choral competitions, we receive support from the university, from the chancellor, and from the president But the main bulk of our funds come from my friends and from corporate choirs that I used to handle With God’s mercy, especially when we are about to leave the country, there’s always someone who will help us. Maybe people we sang for before to whom we gave joy They gladly help us financially We joined two of the most important competitions: the Il d’ Arezzo: Concorso Polifonico Internazionale in Italy I am proud to tell you that we are the very first Asian choir that won the grand prize there We also joined in Debrecen, the Béla Bartók competitions that ordinary choral groups can’t enter because that’s a very difficult competition The songs are very difficult And to be included among the finalists is already an honor We almost won it The audience’s applause and recognition is very important for us With God’s mercy and help, my choir received five grand prizes, 23 first prizes, and some other awards from the 18 contests that we joined in Europe There are many fun moments as we perform as a choir and I as their conductor, that we will never forget like our performance in Tours, France Because I was so nervous for a song which is so difficult, we still practiced backstage as the competition was about to begin After we sang it, I was shaking and it feels like the earth will swallow me After the performance, someone suddenly shouted “Bravo!” Because of joy and nervousness, I ran outside I forgot that there was still another song that we will perform. Our repertoire was not yet done So I returned There are times that you will cry tears of joy because you’ll be proud as a Filipino After we sang our last song, we sang it using Filipino languages and dialects: Tagalog, Visayan, Bicolano, Ilocano People in front of us up to the balcony stood up When I faced the stage and bowed, I got goose bumps When we exited the stage, all of us were crying tears of joy In every win the choir and I achieve, I all the more think that I don’t deserve this My choir tells me, “Brother Ed, we worked hard, we did well, this is the trophy This is the proof.” But definitely, after every win, I always think that this is not enough Involuntarily, even when I was still young, whenever I do something, I want it to be the best Whatever God gives; never stop enhancing it Some of my friends told me that the secret for excellence is not being satisfied Acknowledge what you have achieved in the beginning but work again And then every achievement that you do, say thank you but do not be satisfied They say that these are the secret to excellence Thank you for their acknowledgement As a conductor, I think every conductor around the world dreams of winning the European Grand Prix If God-willing, may He help me in my remaining years in life so I can achieve that Meanwhile, I leave everything to God and just work hard It is my fulfillment to see that people around me are happy
and also victorious especially those whom I love, and students who are wise, kind, and has good qualities I want them to be successful too To the best of my abilities, I hope to be of help to them. I finished college because someone also helped me As a choir master and conductor, it is my dream that someone from God continues what I began—not only correct and beautiful singing, but harmony in the choral group that would adhere to my five core values: respect for authority, respect for seniority, honesty and sincerity, discipline, and striving for excellence If my life would end, I hope someone will replace me He’s outstanding He’s like born to teach and perform He is considered as one of the best conductors in the Philippines He has his unique style. You’ll feel the soul especially when his hands and body moves You’ll feel the flow of the song, the notes’, everything. You’ll feel the song’s soul The recognition given to me by CHED is a huge honor and blessing This was not only for the choir I handle, not only for the victories I achieved but most of all the principles and technical things like about more than 1,000 vocalizations how to improve the voice; and how to cure the voice that I presented to CHED To my knowledge, I was the very first grantee or awardee of this important recognition —Doctorate of Music, Honoris Causa As a musician or an artist, it is important that you properly organize your time I know that many could understand that if you are in this field, there are times that you fail to count the hours that you spend for one thing for it to be fulfilled Sometimes I compose and teach for just a few hours. Sometimes it eats a lot of time But definitely, I am able to manage my time and attend other activities other than music with God’s mercy I can compose any melody If it does not come from God or through my ears, it’s bland and just plain sound But if He gives it, it’s unique, much spiritual, and uplifting Whenever I finish composing, I ponder from Whom it came from I really consider myself as an instrument In writing every lyric I wrote—sometimes I write non-stop and I am puzzled, I feel like it’s not me Whenever I compose, there’s no specific time. Generally, I can compose in the quiet of the night: 12 in the midnight, one, two, or three in the morning, when everything is quiet When its day, maybe the arrangement, and the three voices apart from the melody, I can do that during the day. For the melody, I do it at home in front of my computer or while lying down in bed When I hear a tune, I’ll go to my computer and start composing Back then, my melody comes first followed by the lyrics
But now, in our current situation where there are already beautiful lyrics, I also learned how to make melody from lyrics The UP Singing Ambassadors conducted by Dr. Ed Manguiat, Sa Mahal Kong Bayan I can say that the first one to influence me is Brother Benny Pangulayan, a choir director of the Church from the Ecclesiastical District of Batangas He is an exemplary choir director in the Church At school, Ms. Luisa Mayo, my music teacher influenced me In college, the conductor of UP Concert Chorus, the late Professor Rey Paguio As we go to other countries, as true members of the Church Of Christ —we are really proud to be Church Of Christ members. Together with the choir members, the first thing we search for is the house of worship and the schedule of worship services We’ll adjust whatever is scheduled There was a time that I left my choir so that I could attend worship services Brother Ed, as a member of the Church, considering the schedule of our rehearsals, performances, and his other activities as he is very busy and hectic, but he never ever forgets to go the worship service He always makes sure that he attends the worship service even though we have a big performance, even though we really need to rehearse the day before He will never miss the worship service I remember our Visayan tour Every day we rehearse and have a workshop Almost every day, we have concerts but even though he barely slept the day before, he makes sure that he attends the worship service the next day He’ll get up early Wherever we may be, search for the house of worship and the schedule of worship services We should never neglect attending worship services I love my craft Definitely, this talent is God’s gift I love my music but I’ll love it more if I consider it as my duty I am able to share my knowledge I love music and I’ll love it more if I will be able to impart it to our brethren and to the Church especially during worship services There are so many people in the world, millions, billions But I consider myself so blessed and so lucky to be a member of the Church Of Christ, the only true Church Of Christ Definitely, my ultimate dream again as a conductor is to help in our hymn singing, not only in Church activities like programs and concerts but most especially in hymn singing done during the worship service It is my aspiration that my efforts to develop people’s talent in singing will not be wasted So, with God’s mercy, I pray that I can invite my singers in the UP Singing Ambassadors to join the Church Talent is just given by God; It is our duty to enhance and use it
I am very thankful to the Church Administration for the trust they’ve given me. They entrusted me with program singers and in creating hymns I am also grateful for the chance they’ve given me to handle the Centennial Choir and as consultant of Balikbayan choirs and major choirs of the Church: the INC Tabernacle Choir, INC Sanctuary Choir, INC Boys Choir, INC Ambassadors of Faith, and other notable choirs Also the trust given to me to handle all choir directors all over the world I hope that this will serve as my small contribution for the development of the Church’s music God’s help is essential for us to have good health and more years in life that we can use for our services I thank God and the Church Administration I am Ed Manguiat, the founder and conductor of the UP Singing Ambassadors I am proud to be a member of the Church Of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo)