Catandunganons score twin victories in the field of music
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THE CATANDUNGANON’S MUSICAL PROWESS WAS ON FULL DISPLAY. last week, with the DepEd Catanduanes Division Chorale (left photo) winning third runner-up and declared as best Luzon entry in the 2018 Government Choral Competition last Sept. 18 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo. In Naga Cty, Genesis Efondo of Virac won the grand prize in the Kusog Bikolandia Songwriting Contest, earning him P300,000.00 cash and a huge trophy. With Efondo are KB President Atty. Jorge Sarmiento (right) and VP for Catanduanes Atty. Fred Gianan Jr.

Last week proved memorable for Catandunganons, as its entries in two prestigious musical competitions in Metro Manila and Naga Cities proved victorious.

In its third straight foray in the national finals of the Government Choral Competition held in Pasay City, the DepEd Catanduanes Division Choral placed third runner-up aside from being declared as best entry for Luzon.

In Naga City, songwriter and Pastor Genesis Efondo performed his own piece in the pop-rock genre to top the 1st Kusog Bicolandia Song Writing Competition in Naga City, besting 10 finalists that emerged from the total 115 entries.

With Schools Division Superintendent Socorro dela Rosa, other division officials and at least one local chief executive – Bato Mayor Eulogio Rodriguez – lending support from among the audience, the local choral group of 27 teachers gave their all in singing the contest piece “Kaya Ko Ang Pagbabago” at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo at the Cultural Center of the Philippines last Sept. 18, 2018.

The members of the choral group are: Juvy Gianan, Kimberly Sarmiento, Ginalyn Petajen, Mary Jean Arcilla, Aila Isaias, Liezl Gualberto, Christie Mateo, Ela Ruz Bongalon, Kristine Arcilla, Ginelle Hesita, Jody Rojas, Xenia Iris dela Cruz, Jessielito Bautista Jr., Mark Anthony Tud, Gerald Paul Padilla, Gary Posada, Jeric Gianan, Jonathan Osorio, Dante Ibardaloza, Rommel Lizaso, Ryan Idanan, Martin Philip Alcantara, Lito Zafe, Errol Aldwin Soriao, Arjay Panti, and Rene Romero Jr., with Anatoly Raphael Arcilla as conductor

They were ably backed behind the scenes by support staff Gian Jay Sarmiento and Christopher Tud, as well as division office personnel composed of SDS dela Rosa, Education Program Supervisors Romel Petajen, Amelia Cabrera, and Nelson Sicio, and Administrative Office IV Liza Bernardo.

SDS dela Rosa said that choral group has yet to discuss how to use their P75,000.00 prize, which would be most likely set aside as a fund for participation in future competitions.

The Bayugan City Educators Chorale from Agusan del Sur was the overall choice as grand champion and as best regional entry for Mindanao, with Prim Ross Eng winning as best conductor and Saunder Choi picked for best arrangement of the competition song.

The other winners were the City Government of Makati Employees Chorale, 1st runner-up, which was named best regional entry for the National Capital Region, and Dasmarinas City Teachers' Chorale, 2nd runner-up. The Naval State University (NSU) Chorale from Biliran province was the top regional entry for Visayas.

The other finalists were the National Power Chorale, Commission on Audit Central Office/NCR Choir, and DepEd Division of Agusan Del Sur Teachers' Chorale.

The grand winner received a cash prize of P200,000, with the 1st runner-up getting P150,000 and the 2nd runner-up P100,000. for the first runner-up; PHP100,000 for the second runner-up; and PHP75,000 for the third runner-up. Non-winners received PHP50,000 consolation prize and a certificate.

The Government Choral Competition is one of the major events of the Philippine Civil Service Anniversary (PCSA) held every September. It aims to showcase musical creativity of talented government employees, promote Filipino culture and arts through choral singing, and inculcate in the minds of public servants a culture of excellence in public service.

In the 1st Kusog Bicolandia Song Writing Competition held at UNC Sports Plaza, Naga City last Sept. 18, Pastor Genesis Efondo was the unanimous choice of the board of judges for his pop-rock composition which he interpreted by himself on stage, setting him apart from the other nine finalists who were in groups.

His winning song focuses on the resilience of the Bicolanos in times of hardships and calamities.

He received a trophy and P100,000.00 cash prize from Kusog Bikolandia President Atty. Jorge Sarmiento and Vice President for Catanduanes Atty. Fred Gianan Jr.

Pinoy rock icon Mike Hanopol, who chaired the board of judges, and Gloc 9 were the guest performers during the event.

Pastor Genesis, 38, is the son of the late Pastor Ador Efondo and Indalicia Efondo of Rawis, Vrac. Married to the former Aurora Lumbao with whom he had a four-year old son named Ziv, he was influenced in music by his father who was a musician himself.

Citing the Beatles as the greatest influence in his song writing roots, he started singing while strumming the guitar at the age of three, a feat that is backed by a cassette recording of his mini-concert at the young age.

“I started humming my own melodies during grade school, but enhanced my song writing abilities when I started playing instruments in high school,” Genesis recalls.

Writing songs for the church, schools and hospitals as well as commercial advertisements, Genesis’ first break a song writer came when he wrote and composed the school hymn of the Blooming Child Developmental School at age 21.

In May 2016, he cemented his reputation when he won as champion during the First Abaca Festival song writing competition, with his song "Abaca ning Catanduanes" becoming the official theme song of Abaca Festival.

His triumph in Naga City did not come easy, as he started writing, arranging and recording his entry only on Sept. 8 after arriving from a week-long vacation in Manila, with the deadline looming large just a week away on Sept. 15.

“With only a week to create a winning song, I spent hours and even stayed up to 3:00 A.M.,” he recalls.

At the height of typhoon Ompong, he took advantage of the time their business was closed and finished the recordings of his song, even using a generator during brownouts so he could submit the entry on deadline day.

“On Sept. 16 at around 1 A.M., I was awakened by a call from Naga informing me I am one of the seven finalists to compete for the finals night on Sept. 19 at UNC Naga,” Pastor Genesis said.

Out of 115 official entries submitted, seven were chosen by a panel of choral experts, with another three added to make up the 10 finalists. .

The following day, Sept. 17, he went to Naga City where the out-of-town participants were billeted at Flamingo hotel for three days, with food and accommodation shouldered by the organizers.


The DepEd Catanduanes Division Choral during their award-winning performance at CCP.
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