Friday, August 2, 2013

Reflections on the IP Rondalla by Ronn, the Saxophone Man from Legazpi

Ronn, the Saxophone Man
For the first time in my music career, I’ve never had such an opportunity as big and inspiring as the one I'm going to relate here. It all began when my aunt, one of the concert coordinators, called me to ask if I could play my saxophone on the two-day concert that Iskwelahang Pilipino Rondalla of Boston was having in Bicol. She asked if I could perform during the intermission. Honestly, I was thinking of whether to say yes or no, because I had never heard of the group before. In the end, my aunt convinced me to give a positive “yes!” After that call, though, I was still worried. I had no idea what to play. I had never even seen the IP Rondalla perform, so I wasn’t sure what type of genre would fit their style. Eventually, I decided to play one classical and one modern song. That seemed the most reasonable option.

I started practicing two songs: “Save All My Love for You” and “Just Give Me a Reason” for our first performance in Bicol College. When my time came to play during intermission, I went on stage and played what I had been practicing. I enjoyed the fame as the audience sang along to both songs, even being called an Iskwelahang Pilipino member from Boston (even though I wasn't)! When it was time for the IP Rondalla to play their second set, however, I started to feel kind of bad and a little embarrassed. I didn't realize they would play “Just Give Me a Reason” too, and I was basically taking over their crowd.

For our second performance at St. Agnes Academy, I decided to ask their musical director if we could play “Just Give Me a Reason” together. She was reluctant but said yes. I was nervous at performing an unpracticed part, but they were confident it would go well. Luckily, the performance did go well. Really well. The crowd sang along fervently, the IP Rondalla played beautifully, and I was there, playing at the spotlight for all to see. It was an unbelievable experience. I wasn't just that saxophonist who played during intermission anymore. On that day I was a proud, confident member of the IP Rondalla, and it was amazing.

Playing with the IP Rondalla "Just Give Me a Reason."
While my first meeting with the IP Rondalla was quite awkward, the rest of our time together gave me a joy that I will never forget. I met Sierra, Nathan, George, Nolen, and more at Alvi’s Café and at the Colonial Grill for the chili ice cream dessert. I went to Cagsawa Ruins with them to have an ATV adventure, even meeting Janrey, the guitarist, who couldn’t stop smiling even when dirt was allover his shirt. I also met Luz and Sarah after our adventures in the ruins. I walked up to the Daraga Church, one of the oldest churches in Bicol, with the group to take a look at the majestic Mayon Volcano in a perspective I had never seen before. I have performed for many different occasion. At school I often play the solo part in our band or during talent shows - but being invited to play with the IP Rondalla and getting to know them personally was a experience that will stay with me forever.

My mother, the one who first gave me the courage to stand up in front of an audience and play the saxophone, passed away this year. She would always tell me that she was my number one fan. Although she isn't here to share this wonderful experience, I know she would have loved to see the IP Rondalla perform.

Our last activity together was at the pool, a moment that I will always treasure. Playing and hanging out with the IP Rondalla crew, and getting to know them a little more-- that was the best. I will never forget the last picture we took at the pool. It serves as my daily reminder and inspiration to be confident and positive, despite all the hardships I face. I hope we'll meet again someday. Who knows, maybe next time we'll see each other in Boston.

At the pool with Bettina, Jessica, and Luz. Great people who I will miss.

Thank you Nanay, 
Thank you Iskwelahang Pilipino,

This was amazing!



  1. A very humble story. No matter what background, culture and tradition we all came from, music is an explosive part of humanity. People from different walks of life takes music to show their passions, feelings, self-expressions and sometimes capitalize music as part of healing. Keep up the good work and keep pushing....all the way. We are so proud of you and we will be standing by your side no matter what. As Albert Einstein quoted, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music."
    Uncle Pat

  2. Hey, I wasn't reluctant to have you play with us! Someone told me they had this idea (I was so sleepy during most of the tour, I can't remember whose idea it was), and I said yes. It was very nice meeting and playing with you. Take care, and good luck with all of your journeys in life!
    The IP Rondalla Music Director