Jose Marie ‘JM’ Eserjose, 18-year-old student from Taguig, is a concertmaster. He started playing the violin at age 12 through a local government program at the public school he was attending. He became a concert master at age 16.
As concertmaster, he leads a full-fledged orchestra - taking charge of tuning, bowing, formation and over-all coordination between the conductor and an 80-member orchestra. He led the orchestra in successful recent performances abroad including Malaysia and Qatar.
JM’s musical career started in 7th Grade, when a set of violins were donated to his school. He had long taken an intense interest in music but had no access to musical instruments before then; thus, he jumped at the chance to learning how to play his school’s new violins.
After more than a year, JM joined Orchestra of the Filipino Youth (OFY), an after-school program for marginalized but musically talented children and youth. The Orchestra of the Filipino Youth is the premiere orchestra of Ang Misyon, a non-profit organization that has assisted over 900 scholars since its founding six years ago. The orchestra is under the baton of internationally acclaimed Maestro Joshua Dos Santos from Venezuela.
His ascent to success was fast. From serving as a member of the OFY’s Junior Orchestra, he was invited to join the Main Orchestra after just one year, together with three other friends, in time for major performances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. JM was the newest member among the four newly minted musicians.
A year after, an audition was called for full membership in the Main Orchestra. JM tried this out – he not only passed, but ended up being chosen as concertmaster, no less.
The path JM took was not easy. There were various challenges along the way including a lack of financial and parental support. JM’s mother (a housewife) and father (who drives a tricycle to support the family) were reluctant to support his plans. “At first, ayaw po ng parents ko na i-continue ko ang interest ko sa violin kasi hindi daw po career yun. Pero para po sa akin, a successful career is nothing if there is no fulfillment from within.”
‘Mahirap po nung una kasi wala pong nagturo sa akin. Sariling sikap lang po ako. Nag research lang po ako sa ‘You Tube’ channel para matuto ng basic lessons ng violin. There were times that I wanted to give up as my training was going nowhere. But I pushed myself to pursue as my heart is really into music. Something inside was telling me not to give up. With patience and hard work, I eventually learned the basics within six months of ‘You Tube’ lessons.
“I had to work hard to buy the instrument. When I graduated in high school and was awarded with honors, I asked my parents to buy me a violin as a graduation gift. When I had to upgrade my instrument years after, I joined a talent competition. I won the second place and I used the cash prize to buy a new violin.”
JM, who is enrolled in St. Scholastica’s College Manila pursuing a degree of B. S. in Music as full scholar, dreams of taking a master’s degree in Europe or the US and become a professional orchestra musician.
JM is grateful for the gift of music that was given to him. “With music, I am able to travel to different places. I am given various experiences -- exposures, training, as well as financial gratification. But most of all, music helps me reflect. It made me realize that if you are passionate in doing something, go for it as it will lead you to do many things you deem impossible.”
Meanwhile, Victor Maguad, 25, is one of four principal ballet dancers of Ballet Philippines, the country’s leading professional, classical and contemporary dance company. He plays lead roles in Ballet Philippines performances, including the lead roles of Peter Pan, Giselle, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Snow White, Romeo and Juliet and others.
Victor, who has won awards in various dance competitions, started ballet at age seven, influenced by his sister who was a student at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Dance School. Years later, Victor became an apprentice in Ballet Philippines (BP), and through discipline and hard work, climbed up the ladder in less than five years. In 2013, he became a regular member of BP. A year after, he became a soloist. Later, a principal ballet dancer.
When asked what inspires Victor to do his best, his answer is simple -- his family. “I want to give them a comfortable life. We started with nothing. I did not see myself as a successful dancer but I am here where I am now because I want to help my parents. My family is so precious to me. I will give up anything just to help them.”
Victor is the youngest of four siblings. He is now the breadwinner of the family. He had to stop schooling and continue working as a ballet dancer to send his siblings to school.
Another inspiration for Victor is the fulfillment he gets after every show. “I want to deliver the story as it is. I portray the role, feel it and deliver it as honestly as I can to the audience.”
Victor, who has represented the country in international competitions and performances in Japan, China and the US, believes that ballet is more than the dance techniques. ‘I believe that for a performance to become a success, it should be done with a heart, a character that only Filipino dancers have.”
The PAL Foundation of Philippine Airlines, through its flagship CSR program #RPRSNTPinoy, is a proud supporter of outstanding Filipino youths like JM and Victor. Like the national carrier, these exceptionally talented performers and musicians carry the flag for their country, representing the best of the Filipino people to the world.
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