Col. Antonino Buenaventura
National Artist for Music Col. Antonino Ramirez Buenaventura (1904-1996) was a renowned composer, conductor, and teacher. It was he who restored the Philippine Constabulary Band, reputedly the only military band that sounded like a symphony orchestra, to its former glory as one of the best military bands in the world. The band would later be renamed the Philippine Army Band.
Buenaventura promoted Philippine music by extensively using folk materials in his works. He recorded folk and dance music around the country with Ramon Tolentino and National Artist for Dance Francisca Reyes Aquino. Buenaventura composed the music and did the notations for the folk dances as researched by Aquino.
Lucio, Buenventura’s father, was chief musician of the Spanish artillery band in Intramuros and founder of Banda Buenaventura. Thus as a young boy, Buenaventura already demonstrated a passion for music. He learned the rudiments of solfeggio and became a proficient clarinet player as a child.
His musical abilities developed further when he entered the University of the Philippines (UP) Conservatory of Music at the age of 19. During his stay at UP, he led the UP ROTC Band and established the UP Junior Orchestra, the first collegiate orchestra in the country. Esteemed Filipino musicians Nicanor Abelardo and Francisco Santiago were among his mentors. After graduating from UP in 1932 with a teacher’s diploma, major in science and composition, he pursued further studies at the Institute of International Education in New York.
Before joining the Philippine Constabulary Band in 1945, Buenaventura was a music instructor and band conductor of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). He also founded the San Pablo Music Academy in Laguna.
Upon retiring from the military, Buenaventura became the music director of the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music in 1961 and the University of the East School of Music and Arts in 1964.
Throughout his career, he represented the country in various competitions abroad. He also represented the Philippines at the general meetings of the International Music Council (IMC) in Rome (1962) and Hamburg (1964).
A multi-awarded musician, Buenaventura composed Minuet, Mindanao Sketches, Divertimento for Piano and Orchestra, Variations and Fugue, and Greetings, based on Philippine folk music. Pandanggo sa Ilaw is one of his most popular compositions. He was declared National Artist for Music in 1988.
Tiongson, N. (Ed.) (1994). CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, vol. 6: Philippine Music. Manila : Cultural Center of the Philippines.