Music during the Martial Law Years

The period of Martial Law (1972-1986) may have been considered by many as a grim period in Philippine history. But in the field of the arts, particularly in music, there was evidently ardent support that fostered the development and promotion of Philippine music.

Various organizations and programs were also established to propagate Philippine musical artistry. In 1963, the Philippine Madrigal Singers was organized by choirmaster Andrea O. Veneracion, who later became National Artist for Music in 1999. In 1973, a Presidential Proclamation was issued to formally organize the National Music Competitions for Young Artists (NAMCYA), which has become an avenue for discovering and developing young talents. The CCP Philharmonic Orchestra, now known as the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO), was also established. The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) was the site for showcasing performances and new works.

In addition to the CCP, the Folk Arts Theater (FAT) was inaugurated in 1974 and later became the venue of folk arts festivals and “popular music concerts that saw the birth of original Filipino music (OPM).” (Hila 2007) In 1975, the League became a member of the Asian Composers League, which gave Filipino composers “the opportunity to achieve interaction and work for cultural exchange with other confreres in the Asian region.” Selected commissioned symphonic works were featured in four albums, titled “Pagdiriwang” (Celebration). In 1982, the Opera Company of the Philippines was established to regularly hold operatic productions.

There was also an initiative to bring the classics to a wider audience through outdoor programs such as the “Concert at the Park” at the Luneta, “Puerta Real Evenings” in Intramuros, and “Paco Park Presents” at the Paco Cemetery. The League of Filipino Composers, under the active leadership of Lucrecia R. Kasilag, also sponsored competitions, seminars, and workshops to encourage young musicians and promote their contemporary works.

It was also during the period when the prestigious National Artist Award included the field of music in 1973. Among the notable musicians of the period were Antonio J. Molina (National Artist for Music, 1973), Jovita Fuentes (National Artist for Music, 1976), Antonino R. Buenaventura (National Artist for Music, 1988), Lucrecia R. Kasilag (National Artist for Music, 1989), Lucio D. San Pedro (National Artist for Music, 1991), Felipe P. De Leon, Sr. (National Artist for Music, 1997), and Jose M. Maceda (National Artist for Music, 1997).


Hila, A.C. (2007). The musical arts in the New Society. Marcos Presidential Center.


Cultural Center of the Philippines and League of Filipino Composers. Pagdiriwang. 4 LPs. CCP, 1979. (From the Himig collection of the Filipinas Heritage Library)


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