Pakil aims to showcase musical heritage REDISCOVERING ROOTS
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Pakil aims to showcase musical heritage

Feb 20, 2024, 6:58 AM
James Veloso and Catherine Go

James Veloso and Catherine Go

Local Editor

Pakil, Laguna is now joining the growing number of towns and cities in the province who have embarked on an “age of rediscovery” as the town seeks to revive and promote its fame as a haven for musical talents in Laguna.

Laguna province is now on an “age of rediscovery.”

Spurred on by the successful example of Biñan City’s “culture-based development,” other local governments in the province have now embarked on a search to (re)discover their unique historical and cultural heritage.

One such town is Pakil, situated on the mostly rural eastern portion of Laguna, whose bucolic tranquility hides what its local officials have called a wealth of musical talents.

Pakil has long been known as one of Laguna province’s top pilgrimage sites for Filipino Catholics.

The town’s St. Peter of Alcantara Parish Church, itself a relic of the Spanish occupation period, houses the Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba, an 18th-century Marian icon that has been the subject of devotion by Catholics from all over the country.

But there’s more to Pakil than simply being a pilgrimage site, as local officials led by Mayor Vince Soriano disclosed during a recent visit from officials of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) last February 13.

CCP Visit

This “hidden cultural wealth” came to light during the recent visit of officials of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), led by its President Michelle Nikki Junia, last February 13.

The visit also shed light on the importance of cooperation between LGUs in the province and the CCP to highlight and enhance their own cultural heritage.

During the meeting, Soriano and Junia shared insights on how to enhance and promote Pakil’s legacy as a “music capital” – a legacy that dates back from the Spanish colonization era.

“Ang buhay natin dito ay ang musika,” Soriano emphasized during the meeting.

According to local historical records, St. Pedro Bautista, a Franciscan priest who was later martyred in Japan in 1597, established the first (and only, at the time) musical academy in Pakil.

There, students were not only trained as church choir members but were also taught on making musical instruments from local materials. This legacy of music was perpetuated by descendants of these first students.

One of them, Marcelo Adonay (1848-1928), is now hailed by the LGU as the “Prince of Philippine Church Music” due to his contributions to Philippine religious music.

‘Marcelo Adonay Month’

Soriano disclosed that the municipal government in March 2022 had enacted Municipal Ordinance No. 2022-0162 which declared February as the “Maestro Marcelo Q. Adonay Musical, Culture and Arts Month.”

The ordinance, authored by Councilors Jeffrey Cotoner and Analyn Pacheco-Puyo, aims not only to honor Adonay's legacy but also to showcase the hidden musical talent of Pakileños.

Aside from commemorating Adonay's contributions to Philippine Music, the ordinance also institutionalized contests, exhibitions, workshops and other activities to bring out the best of the Pakileños' musical talent.

Soriano pointed out that the municipal government is now embarking on a series of programs to encourage Pakil’s youth to continue its legacy of music.

One of these, he bared, is the conversion of the old municipal hall in front of the St. Peter of Alcantara Parish into a cultural center and library.

“In fact, ang First Laguna Jazz Festival po ay gaganapin dito sa Pakil,” the mayor said. “We have enlisted the assistance of retirees from the United Nations, sila ang magiging kabahagi natin sa paglulunsad ng competition na ito.”

Junia, on her part, broached the possibility of enlisting the Pakil LGU in the CCP’s “Kaisa sa Sining” program.

The Kaisa sa Sining is a partnership program of the CCP that aims to further enrich and develop arts and culture through forging links with local governments, communities and non-government organizations.

“[The Kaisa sa Sining] is one way of supporting LGUs. We can support you through programs such as arts training, workshops, and events,” the CCP head told local officials.


Side-by-side with the rejuvenation of Pakil’s musical heritage, Soriano also bared the growing success of his push for more investments from the private sector that will bring much-needed employment for residents.

One such project, the East Bay water treatment plant operated by Manila Water, started limited operations last December 2023.

Officials have noted that once the plant enters full operation, it will be able to provide 50 million liters of water a day to towns in Laguna and Rizal provinces. (Soriano added that they expect to export up to 250 million liters of water a day to Metro Manila by 2025.)

“And kapag natuloy na po yung tatlong renewable energy projects natin dito sa Pakil, we will be able to provide up to 2,700 megawatts of electricity,” the municipal mayor added.

“Maliit man kaming bayan, pero we have attracted billions of pesos in investments. And that translates directly to almost 3,000 jobs, which means that we’re changing the lives of 3,000 families – and that creates a multiplier effect in terms of the number of businesses in our town,” Soriano emphasized.

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