Updated: Aug 1, 2021
Bravo Filipino! Filipinos are born with natural talent in music. Almost all Filipinos love to sing whether in church, parties, gatherings or simply with the family whenever they get together over videoke. The Filipino diaspora brought many health and allied professionals around the world, sharing their hospitality and rich cultural heritage including their musicality.
As we celebrate the 123rd Philippine Independence from Spain this month, let us look at some of the musicians who are proud to identify themselves as Filipinos showcasing their talents in the European continent. They are Spain’s Got Talent Golden-buzzer girl-Dianne Kaye Jacob, Nats Sisma Villaluna and Arnel German, artistic and musical directors of the Barcelona based all-Filipino children’s choir Coro Kudyapi, and Paris-based Musical Theatre Actress Charley Magalit.
Dianne Ico Jacob
Spain’s Got Talent Golden-Buzzer Girl Dianne Ico Jacob started singing at a young age when she joined their church choir in Barcelona. She then took up theory and piano lessons at Conservatori Liceu for about three years as well as voice lessons under Mar Carrero. Her affiliation with the Bacelona-based Filipino choir Coro Kudyapi and its directors Mr.Arnel German and Nats Sisma Villaluna, furthered her musical training and growth before embarking on a much bigger career platform when she joined and was chosen as Spain’s Got Talent Golden Buzzer Girl in 2016. Since then, she has performed pop, jazz, and classical music in numerous occasions such as guest artist in ASAP Natin ‘to Rome and as featured artist at the Philippine Independence month virtual celebration at the Philippine Embassy in Madrid.
But success did not knock instantly at her doorstep, she experienced many challenges and criticisms along the way. She dreams of becoming an international singer with a much wider audience and she is working hard to inch closer and closer to that dream day by day.
“It’s quite hard and tough but unless the fame and success don’t come to you by sheer luck, you have to work a lot and keep grinding until you reach your goals” … says Dianne to aspiring Filipino musicians and artists. Follow Dianne on Instagram
Charley Elizabeth Magalit
Musical Theatre Actress and Singer Charley Elizabeth Magalit has been living in Europe for 4 years now. She moved to France last year after finishing her Masters in Musical Theatre with Distinction at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, United Kingdom. She occasionally facilitates workshops for student organizations and works as a Vocal coach. In the Philippines, she studied at the University of the Philippines College of Music and performed in several concerts, recitals, operas and musical theatre plays with professional companies such as Trumpets, Philippine Opera Company, and Upstart and Tanghalang Pilipino (CCP). She also performed internationally with the Opera Society of Hong Kong, Edge n’ Pointe Dance Centre for Ballet in Hong Kong, Disney Cruise Line in the United States & Hong Kong Disneyland. As well as in the United Kingdom, where she performed in two productions namely, “Cat in the Hat” and “Amélie the Musical”.
As a Filipina, she considers being amicable, respectful, resilient, and having a positive outlook in life as some of the qualities that make Filipinos employable in many fields on top of the immense talent that they are naturally born with. She recently performed at the Philippine Embassy in Paris for the National Heritage Month.
“Just keep on going and find your niche, your unique contribution to the arts! Embrace your individuality and use it to your advantage” … a piece of advice from Charley to aspiring Filipino musicians and artists. Follow Charley on social media: IG: @charleyonstage Youtube: Charlene Elizabeth Magalit
An all-Filipino children’s choir based in Barcelona is not just actively performing for the community but showcasing the musicality of second generation Filipinos in Europe. They won silver diplomas at the 2018 Sing Berlin Choir competition and 2016 Canço Mediterranea Choir Competition as well as bronze at the 6th Canta al Mar Festival Internacional.
The group has performed in Berlin, Lisbon, Calella, Barcelona, Madrid for several concerts, competitions, festivals and an event attended by HRH Prince Sisowath Tesso of Cambodia in 2019. They regularly sing in three Catholic masses every Sundays at Església de Sant Agustí in Barcelona.
In 2004, then President of Centro Filipino, Sister Paulita Astillero formed Centro Filipino Coro Infantil as an extra-curricular activity for children of Filipino migrants. Its mission is to teach Philippine culture, language, and history through music to Filipino kids in Barcelona. When Sister Paulita retired and returned to the Philippines in 2014, Mr. Nats Sisma Villaluna and Arnel German took over as the artistic director and musical director. From Centro Filipino Coro Infantil, renamed from Coro Kudyapi.
Their musical director, Mr. Arnel German is a civil engineer by profession and has been residing in Spain for 15 years now. He took up piano lessons at UST Conservatory of Music Extension Program. The artistic director and general manager of the choir, Mr. Nats Sisma Villaluna, is an English teacher and has been highly active in the activities of the Filipino community in Barcelona having lived in Spain for 17 years. He finished his Masters in International Cooperation at Universitat de Barcelona. As the choir manager, he narrates having experienced many challenges keeping the group intact and afloat.
Currently, they have 36 active members who are mostly children of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s). The choir was supposed to perform in Rome for the 123rd Philippine Independence Celebration but due to COVID-19 restrictions, they cancelled their participation. Future engagements include participation in the opera “La Gata Perduda” at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona and an invitation to perform at the Festival Internacional de Musica Iberoamericana de Madrid.
“Having patience, discipline, a positive and cheerful attitude are some of the qualities that we Filipinos possess which we should keep intact in order to withstand all the challenges of living in a foreign country. We should also be proud of our rich cultural heritage including a close link to the Filipino community which serves as our support group living abroad” … some words of advice from Mr. Nats Sisma Villaluna and Mr. Arnel German. Follow Coro Kudyapi on FB : Grupo Kudyapi
Cipriano “Zip” De Guzmán Jr.,LPT
Also known on stage as Filipino Baritone is an International Opera Singer, Professor of Voice, Theatre, Music Education, Japanese and Spanish Languages based in the Principality of Andorra on top of the Pyrénées between France and Spain. He is a two-time recipient of Ani Ng Dangal from the Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts and have won major prizes in 7 International Vocal Competitions in Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, New York, London and Rome. He finished two Masters Degrees in Music; Master en Interpretación d’Ópera at Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu in Barcelona and Masters in Music in Vocal Performance at Elisabeth University of Music, Japan with the Highest Honours. He finished 3 Bachelor’s Degrees in the Philippines, two of which Cum Laude at University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music.