Latest Stories

Believe it or not, a Philippine band had taken part in a US presidential inaugural


RON Michael Soriao conducts PA Band

The Philippine Army (PA) Band recently gave a tribute concert in honor of Walter H. Loving, founder of the prewar Philippine Constabulary (PC) Band, at the Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.

The concert was held in time for the launching of the book “In Performance: Walter H. Loving and the Philippine Constabulary Band,” written by Robert Yoder and published by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) on Feb. 28.

Some 98 musicians of the prewar PC Band were gathered and reorganized in 1945 to constitute the Philippine Army Band by Lt. Antonino Buenaventura, who became its commanding officer until he retired in 1962. The reconstitution was done in response to the order given by Maj. Gen. Basilio Valdez,  the national-defense secretary.

Loving, an African-American, had established the PC Band on Oct. 15, 1902. Loving went beyond engaging the band in military ceremonies. He transformed it from the parade ground to the legitimate concert hall, playing symphonic pieces.

Loving, who was loved and respected by the Filipino musicians, led the band from playing the usual band pieces into sophisticated symphonic pieces. The band played the symphonic repertoire regularly in outdoor concerts (serenata), initially at Binondo Square, Plaza Calderon de la Barca, in front of Binondo Church, then later, the more popular promenade, Luneta.

Outside the Philippines, the PC Band played during the St. Louis Exposition in 1904; Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915; and Golden Gate Exposition in 1939.

Special place

It also played for the presidential inaugural of William H. Taft in 1909, accompanying him from the White House to the Capitol, where he took his oath of office.

The PC Band’s playing broke the long-held tradition of the US Marine Band’s playing and escorting the newly elected president to take his oath.

Taft, of course, had a special place in his heart for Filipinos since he was the first American governor general of the Philippines, during which time he played Big Brother to Filipinos and encouraged the band’s formation.

In the tribute concert, held at Security and Escort Batallion’s Bayanihan Hall, a bucolic makeshift performance venue adjacent to a pond, favorite pieces of Loving were played.

Lt. Ron Michael Soriao, commanding officer of the band; Maj. Jesus C. Diaz, former CO; MSgt. Crisanto Diaz; and Lt. Peterson de Vera took turns in conducting the band. Karel S. Dabu graciously hosted the program.

From the opening number, Daniel Fajardo’s “Col. Walter H. Loving March,” to John Philip Sousa’s “Hands across the Sea,” to the more sophisticated “Oberon” Overture by Webber, it was glorious listening to grand band symphonic sound.

Potenciano Gregorio’s “Sarung-Banggi,” purportedly a favorite of the prewar band, was also played with De Vera conducting.

A novelty piece, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” perked up the program as Soriao conducted the band with gusto.

Yoder receives a certificate of appreciation from Pedro C. Dulos as Eduardo Tubiera looks on.

Both Fajardo and Gregorio were members of the prewar PC Band.

Loving composition

When the band conducted by Diaz played “Beloved Philippines,” with a male quartet singing the text written by Loving himself, one felt a lump in the throat.

Incarcerated with his wife Edith at University of Santo Tomas, Loving composed the song and wrote the text. Seeing the country he loved so much being desecrated by the Japanese, he expressed the lofty sentiment of patriotism in the song that he scored in a hymn-like fashion, so noble and touching with the refrain: “We’ll fight for you; we’ll die for you, Beloved Philippines.”

Hearing the PA Band after a long, long while, one renewed familiarity with its unmistakable sound that became the toast of band enthusiasts and musicians in the past.

I was associated with it in the early ’70s, doubling as choral conductor for the band members and writer under then CO José Francisco G. Dunca Jr.

Dunca graced the program with his presence together with another former band CO, Gen. Eliseo Javier.

It is nostalgic to recall that, on Oct. 15, 1974, the PA Band gave its 72nd anniversary concert at the CCP with Colonel Dunca conducting. Under his incumbency, he put up the Col. Walter H. Loving Society, which included some 45 original PC Band members.

Mother of PC Band

More important, the concert was graced with the presence of Edith Loving. Dubbed Mother of the PC Band, she was happy to renew company with the prewar band members.

ROBERT Yoder with officers and members of PA Band and guests

The PA Band still weaves seasoned and well-honed sound. It still capably displays the hallmark of excellence honed by a long tradition of sensitive playing, which continues to allure.

It is unfortunate one rarely hears it perform nowadays, as it used to in the past in concert halls, such as Meralco Theater or the CCP, and outdoor venues.

Yoder presented a copy of the original manuscript of his book to the command. It was received by Col. Pedro C. Dulos, deputy commander of the headquarters and Headquarters Support Group (HHSG), witnessed by Lt. Col. Eduardo Tubiera, executive officer of the Security and Escort Batallion, and Col. Noel Buan, chief of staff, HHSG.

Yoder’s book is based on the thesis he wrote for his MA degree, which he earned in North Carolina Central University. A highlight of the book is the extra musical career of Loving treated in a chapter, that of being a military agent in 1916-19, which he pursued for the “welfare of his country.”

Magic wand

In his brief remarks, Yoder commended the band for their magical rendition, and the innate musical talent of the Filipinos.

He recalled several anecdotes of the band, including the incident when it played Rossini’s “William Tell” Overture in total darkness at the St. Louis Exposition. Instinctively, Loving tied a white handkerchief at the tip of his baton and waved it like a magic wand for an hour, accurately cueing the musicians who played from memory.

When the lights went on, Loving and his “little brown men” instantly became world celebrities. A plaque of appreciation was later given to Yoder.

In his response, Dulos said Loving’s task of establishing the band was a milestone in the history of band music in the country. He expressed admiration for the band’s sterling performance, and led the audience in giving it a hearty applause.

The glorious tradition set out by the PC Band continues to live on, and is carried on by the Philippine Army Band. A lasting legacy, the PA Band deserves to be heard more often.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Lifestyle , Military , Music , PA Band , PC Band , Philippine Army Band , Philippine Constabulary Band , Walter H. Loving

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  3. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  4. No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  5. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  6. The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  7. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  8. Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  9. What has happened to Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks & Waiters?
  10. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  5. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. This is not just a farm
  8. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  9. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  10. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • [VIDEO] No assurances on Janet Lim-Napoles’ bid to become state witness
  • South Sudan president fires long-time army leader
  • 25 cops ordered relieved over links to drugs
  • Bloodied shirt, unwashed fork: JPII relics abound
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Guiao summoned by PBA for name-calling incident
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted