FRANCISCO SANTIAGO

(1889 - 1947)

 

 

  Francisco Santiago was born in Santa Maria, Bulacan, on January 29, 1889 to musically-minded peasant parents, Felipe Santiago and Maria Santiago. He was the first of their three children. His parents had the same surname but they were not related by blood.

 

  At age seven, he took solfeggio lesssons under an uncle, Matias Magracia, a country violinist, who took him along to haranas or serenades during moonlit nights. But his parents did not like him to be a musician. It was after his father died that he was given open encouragement to study music. He became popular in his hometown as a boy singer in the school and in the church.

 

  After completing his elementary education in the public school, he went to Manila. He was admitted as a houseboy in the Dominican convent and studied piano forte under the famous Dominican music teachers, such as Blas Echegoyen, Faustino Villacorta, and Fray Primo Calzada. With the latter, he studied vocalization, organ playing and the rudiments of compositions. He finished his primary education at  the Colegio de San Juan de Letran and left to find employment as a pianist in various stage theatres. He joined orchestra groups while continuing with his college course which he finished at the Liceo de Manila.

 

  In 1908, his first composition, Purita, was dedicated to the first Carnival Queen, Mis Pura Villanueva, who later married the distinguished scholar Teodoro M. Kalaw.

 

  In 1912, he won first prize in musical contest sponsored by Teodoro M. Kalaw. In the same year, he won a first prize in a musical contest entitled Oxipator (Waltz) sponsored by Yangco firm. A year later he made a zarzuela entitled Margaritang Mananahi. In 1914, he was lured to accept a job abroad, directing an orchestra in Shanghai. Upon his return to Manila, he taught piano and became director of the choir at the San Jose Seminary, Manila, 1915-1916.

 

  In September 1916, he was taken in as an instructor while working in the conservatory. He composed what is now the classic Anak ng Dalita. He enrolled at the Conservatory taking courses under Director George and others. In the same year, he fell in love with a young student who was enrolled in voice culture by the name of Concepcion Ocampo. In 1919, he composed a song entitled Ave Maria and dedicated it to her. As he was getting more stable economically, he made a decision to get married. He and Concepcion were wedded at Quiapo Church on April 24, 1920. Their Marriage was blessed with four children, Jose, Ramon, Carmen and Teresita.

 

  He was first to take a post graduate course in music and was the first to give a post graduate recital in piano forte in 1921 at the Conservatory.

 

  The New director (Schofield) of the Conservatory of Music saw that Santiago should have further training abroad. Arrangements were made with University authorities and Santiago left in August 1923 to enroll at the American Conservatory of Music, Chicago, Illinois, where he obtained his Master of Music degree, 1924. He also received a special honorable mention during the commencement exercises for excellence in studies. He was the first Filipino to receive the degree of Doctor of Music from the Chicago Musical College. His graduation piece played at the Kimball Hall was entitled Concerto in B Flat Minor, 1924. The American Conservatory of Music also awarded him the teacher’s Certification in voice culture. Then he participated in an international contest conducted by the Chicago Daily news, and his Remembrance, was awarded third place.

 

  Back in Manila in 1923, he made his debut at the Zorilla theatre on February 5, 1925.

 

  Dr. Santiago returned to the UP conservatory of Music. Dr. Alexander Lippay, the director of the school took notice of his talent and immediately promoted him to assistant professor, making him head of the piano department. He taught advanced composition among other subjects.

 

  He then won first prize in two national contests namely, Himno al Cristo Rey (1928) and Himno del Congreso Eucaristico Nacional (1929) which he considered the greatest moment of his life, more significant than the honor he received in Chicago.

 

  When the UP Board of Regents did not renew Dr. Lippay’s contract, Santiago was named official-in-charge and was later promoted to associate professor of piano and acting director of the Conservatory.

 

  In 1935, he was named full professor and director of the Conservatory of Music.

 

  During the Japanese occupation in 1943, he had a heart attach and suffered from paralysis which incapacitated him.

 

  He was named UP Emeritus Professor of Piano, on May 25, 1946. When the U.P. Conservatory of Music was celebrating its 30th anniversary, the nationalistic musician died of heart attack on September 28, 1947. He was buried at the North Cemetery, Manila.

 

 

 

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