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Sunday, July 7, 2013

THE only sources of music for 14-year-old John Paul Cosido as he was growing up in an upland village in Cebu City were TV shows and a coin-operated videoke machine.

But the teenager, named after the future saint Pope John Paul II, turned out to be a virtuoso, a naturally talented musician, who now boasts of a string of public performances as a violinist.

He is the youngest son of a widow, Filomena, who sells vegetables and raises chickens to make a living.

Now, the sounds of Cosido’s daily life go beyond the clucking from their backyard. He now has a repertoire, which varies from classical music to the popular Filipino ditty “Pusong Bato.” He played the latter during his music class with Sistemang Pilipino volunteer teacher Noel Martin.

Sistemang Pilipino Founder and Chief Executive Officer Lianne Sala told Sun.Star Cebu that Cosido was referred to them by a French priest, who was impressed by the boy’s talent.

Cosido, using a guitar, can recreate most of the music he hears. He performed at the group’s launching concert at the Basilica del Sto. Nio in March this year.

The young man dreams of being a professional artist someday, following the likes of violinist Gilopez Kabayao, a Gawad CCP Awardee for Music in 2008.

Cosido now has weekly music lessons with Sistemang Pilipino, which aims to provide world-class music education and performance opportunities for children and youth. They focus on under-served communities.

The group was founded last year by Sala, the niece of renowned concert pianist Ingrid Sala-Santamaria.

Sala said the creation of Sistemang Pilipino was inspired by “El Sistema,” the Venezuelan movement for social justice through music that began in 1975. (Related photo, A8)

The group is looking for sponsors or donors of instruments; music lessons for one child cost about P2,500 per month.

Sala, together with Martin, contrabass virtuoso Jiovanni Tabada, pianist Miracle Romano and music teacher Mark Melecio held music lessons in singing, violin and cello at the SOS Children’s Village in Barangay Talamban, Cebu City yesterday morning.

Melecio said it took some time to develop the children’s interest in choir singing, which requires strict discipline.

But he points out that the children in the village have potential, and their performance has improved in the last two months.

Tabada, the son of Mactan weather bureau chief Oscar Tabada, teaches girls between six and 14 how to play the violin.

In a separate interview, Dipolog City-based Romano said music helps build the children’s character.

“I especially see music’s effect on my students with special needs. Music gives them something to come home to… and that is very important,” she added.

SOS Village Director Mario Victor Baang explained that the children in the village undergo child development programs; as they cannot be with their own families, the village offers them an alternative family life.

Baang added that with the music lessons, the children have developed the habit of attending practice sessions, which is important in self-discipline.

“They now care for the (musical) instruments that they use and they have developed self-confidence,” he said.

By Bernadette A. Parco

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