Banda Kawayan is a musical group based at the FilCom Center. The Banda, which consists of an intergenerational group of volunteers devoted to the perpetuation of Filipino performing arts, rehearses at the FilCom on weekends and after school hours. To date, the group has served as the opening act for all of FilCom Sundays, FilCom’s annual events such as the Bayanihan Dinner last October 5, 2012, the annual Filipino Fiesta at Kapiolani Park and other events.
It’s most recent performance was at the Mapua World 2013 Convention at Ala Moana Hotel last March 16. The Banda serenaded 500 delegates worldwide, mostly alumni and their spouses of Mapua Institute of Technology, a prestigious university in the Philippines known for its rigorous courses in engineering and architecture. The convention attracted delegates from all corners of the world including Canada, Australia and the Middle East.
Banda Kawayan was created with the help of the late U.S. Senator Dan Inouye who advocated the approval of a grant from the Department of Education. The Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations (ECHO) and U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (ILMS) were also key supporters, including Hawaiian Airlines who helped in transporting the instruments from Manila to Honolulu.
The grant was used to purchase the instruments which were carefully handcrafted by Professor Siegfredo B. Calabig, Instrument Maker and Music Director of Polytechnic University of the Philippines. Rossini Icabales Calabig and Jaime Fadul Calabig were flown from Manila to Honolulu to share their knowledge in tuning, maintaining, and playing the instruments – a month’s long process from October 2009 to November 2009. They trained locally based musical instructors Pike Velasco, Gladys Ganitano and Arceli Rebollido. Since then, Maestro Pike Velasco has served as the group’s musical director and conductor.
The first set of instruments was shipped in two 450-pound crates. The crates contained 96 pieces of bamboo Instruments, enough to accommodate a group of 16-32 performers.
The current Banda Kawayan members are:
Marc Non is 11 years old and is a sixth grader at August Ahrens Elementary School. He joined the Banda in June 2011 to fulfill his desires of being a part of a musical group. He used to be one of our Tongatong players and is now a Marimba player.
Mellissa Marie Pasion first joined the Banda in October 2009 when she was 11 years and studying at August Ahrens Elementary School. She is now 14 and a 9th grade student at Waipahu High School. Her mother encouraged her to join the Banda because Melissa wanted to represent her culture by learning how to play rare bamboo instruments. Mellissa was the first one to purchase her own Marimba instrument.
Johnsen Martinez is now 10 years old, a fifth grader at August Ahrens Elementary School. He joined the Banda with his cousin Mellissa in October 2009. He was the youngest member then at age 7. He can now play the Tongatong and Marimba.
Cielito Oda is a music lover; she can sing, dance and play musical instruments. She is also a member of the Himig at Indak Choir and a volunteer instructor of the Ballroom Dance class being held at the FilCom Center every Tuesday night. She joined the Banda when it first started in October 2009; she is now an Angklung player expert and critic.
Edel Matias is a retired registered nurse, a social worker and a successful entrepreneur. She joined the Banda in October 2009 and plays Angklung instrument. She is also a member of the Himig at Indak Choir and sings soprano.
Daniel Christopher T. Ferrer is now 12 years old and attends Maryknoll School as a seventh grader. He is a member of the Honolulu Boy Choir. His mother Erlinda introduced him to the band and found it interesting, inspiring him to join the Banda himself. He was 9 years old when he joined the Banda in October 2009. He plays the piano and is an awesome Marimba player.
Erlinda Ferrer, is a registered nurse and a home care operator. She became a member to support her son Daniel. She plays the Angklung.
Beatrice “Bea” Ramos-Razon, a registered nurse and president of Nursing Advocates and Mentors, Inc. (NAMI) which coordinates NCLEX review classes at the FilCom Center. She joined the Banda in October 2009 and prefers to play the Angklung instrument. She joined the Banda to fulfill her dream to play a very unique musical instrument. She is now an expert with the Angklung and plays the instrument very gracefully.
Faye Aglibot graduated as high school valedictorian from Lanakila Baptist School. She is now 20 years old and a college student at Hawaii Pacific University taking up Nursing. She has been a member since October 2009 together with her father Joey. Faye joined to learn more about Filipino culture through traditional music. She is now skilled in playing the Marimba instrument. She mentors the young members of the Banda.
Joey Aglibot is an architect and loves music. He joined the Banda in October 2009 with his daughter Faye. He is our senior Kalagong player and trainer. He can also play the guitar.
Therenz Andres is 15 years old and a student at Waipahu High School. He has been a member since October 2009. He joined the Banda to meet new friends and communicate with other people, learn how to play all of the instruments with interest and dedication, and to learn more about Filipino culture. He plays the Tongatong and Marimba.
Keith Cachola is 12 years old and joined the Banda in September 2010. Keith plays Marimba very well and even has her own Marimba instrument purchased by her mom in the Philippines. She comes to practice with her cousin Mikah. Together with her cousin, they play in family gatherings and private parties.
Mikah Agcaoili is 9 years old and attends Lanakila Baptist School, and is also a team player. Mikah’s interest in the instruments has kept him a member of the Banda since October 2010. He is very good in Kalagong and always generates excitement from the audiences. He is now the star player for Kalagong.
Dannah Faye Dahilig is 11 years old and attends Friendship Christian School. She is the youngest member of the Banda. Her mom bought one of the Marimba instruments so she can practice more frequently at home. She is a fast learner and is able to play the instrument smoothly. She really has an ear for music. She always comes to rehearsals with her very young four-year old sister and her grandmother.
Abella Kristofel, is a 6th grader at August Ahrens Elementary School and became a member of the Banda in January 2011. He is our best Kalatok player. He started learning the Tongatong and he can also play Marimba well.
Geofrey John Julian is 14 years old and has been a member since October 2009. He can play Tongatong and now he is also good in Marimba. He joined because he saw it as an opportunity to improve himself and has gained more friends.
Jethra Agbayani is now 14 years old and studying at Waipahu Intermediate School. She joined the Banda in February 2010 with her Grandmother, Lorna Udasco. She joined because she wanted to learn how to play unique instruments that represents her culture. She plays the Marimba.
Leovigildo Ramirez was one of the students of our Smart Seniors Program and attended the Music Class. He has been a member since November 2009. He joined the Banda to avoid Alzheimer disease by exercising his mental ability.
Arceli Rebollido is the Filcom’s Program Director. She has been very patient in organizing and taking care of the Banda members when it comes to rehearsals and performances. Because of her passion for music, she is one of the pioneer members of the Banda as a Marimba player. She can also sing and play the piano. She trains the members for some dance moves which adds color to the musical performance of the Banda. She also serves as the Banda’s make-up artist and ensures that all members are beautiful and photogenic.
Banda Kawayan’s Director and Conductor, Maestro Pike Velasco, is a retired school principal and music coordinator in the Philippines. Currently a teacher at August Ahrens Elementary School, Maestro Pike explained, “We are constantly recruiting young and young-at-heart people alike who want to learn to play a bamboo instrument and experience performing at different venues.” Those interested to try, please call 808 680 0451 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.