Connie, maestra de artes y musika
Her awareness of the culture and
arts that define the Batonhon started in 1949 when she became a
5-year-old participant in of the annual Holy Week celebration highlighted by
the Hosana, Aleluia and later,
Flores de Mayo. They were under the
tutelage and directions of Nang Piyay and Coleta Rodulfo, mother-daughter
team who handled the rituals of the Semana Santa. Later, Salud Eco
mentored her as a singer and joined veladas as a contestant where she
laughingly added that she always ended up a second placer.
At age 13, she became a catekista.
At 23, when she was into her second year of teaching, she turned
director/composer, a self-imposed responsibility she has handled for the past
45 years. She became the adviser of the Bato Parish Choir. She went on to organize
the Rondalla and Harmonica groups. Later, the late Nellie
Pereyra, Liling Trono and herself formed the dula-tula group Saha, issue-oriented
theatre group that employed Teatro Banhi style to put across community concerns and
school themes through short plays. Members of her rondalla group came
from Bagamanoc, Baras, Gigmoto and San Miguel, training both teachers and
This did not really come as a
surprise to parents Tang Aboy and Nang Cayang as her great
grandfather Jose Mendoza was a well-known musikero of his time apart
from being the presidente (equivalent to the mayor) of Bato. Ma’am
Connie considers him a “great influence.”
Some of her compositions include Himno
ning Municipio ning Bato, Mutya ng Bato, Himno ng Silangang Purok ng Bato, Alma
Mater Hymn of Bato Central Elementary School, Camia:Burac ning Bato, Senior
Citizen, A Child’s Request. How did she come up with such compositions?
She wrote the lyrics as a poem, set the words to music by oido (by ear),
memorized the melody, wrote down the
basic notes so she won’t forget then played the song in her harmonica. She made the whole process sound very simple.
She submitted to the municipality of
Bato a compiled work of Bato’s cultural heritage titled Pamana ng Bato which
includes history, literature and music. It was supposed to be published. Her
own 20-year-old art work the size of one plywood, a Manila paper- art paper-
used magazines mosaic of the Last Supper, adorns their dining room,
She is sad, though, as she observes
the culture and the art fading away after she retired. She turned to coaching Catleyas
to bloom profusely. Even the flowers respond to her motivations, I tried to
remark to console her. For the feast of Mary, the Virgin Mother, she said, the
flowers would surprisingly bloom.
Most of all, her shared music and
her art adorn the hearts of the thousands of learners who were lucky enough to
be under her care. Some of them are now successful artists here and abroad, all
because at one time in their young life, a teacher inspired them to discover
their gift of talent and honed it.
This is her legacy - Ma’am Connie’s
legacy of love for music and the arts.