For each competition season, the NAMCYA invites chairpersons for the different categories. The chairperson ensures that all rules and regulations of the competition are implemented. This year’s chairpersons are esteemed musicians, professors, and researchers from different parts of the country.

EUGENE DE LOS SANTOS
Junior Voice Category

Eugene De los Santos began his musical training at the age of ten as a member of the Tiples de Santo Domingo (oldest Boy’s Choir in the Philippines) where he eventually became the musical director and choirmaster.  He was trained under Engracio Tempongko and Fr. John Van de Steen, CICM and in church music as a member of the boys’ choir. In 1993, he received his Bachelor of Music degree major in Voice from the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music where he studied under the late Kathy R. Sternberg and Professor Salvacion Oppus-Yniguez.  In 1994, he studied under voice pedagogue Fr. Luciano Bertagnolio, S.J. at the Elisabeth University of Music in Hiroshima, Japan and attained his Master of Music degree in vocal performance in 1997, and eventually continued and completed Doctor of Music degree in Voice from the same university. He received opera coaching from Marcella Reale,  german lieder from Uwe Heilman and Kyoko Hirata and worked under the guidance of Keiko Kataoka.  He came back home to Manila, and in 2001 earned his Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the International Academy of Management, Economics and Law.  A multifaceted musician, he has performed as soloist, choral conductor, or chorus member in several concerts held locally and abroad.

De los Santos has been the chairman of the NAMCYA Voice Category C in 2010.  He is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS-USA) and founding member of Samahan ng mga Guro sa Pag-awit  (Philippine National Association of Teachers of Singing).  He was also a member of the National Committee in Muusic of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) from 2007 to 2013 and at present the vice-head until 2020.

In UST, he has been the coordinator of the Voice Department from 2007 to 2011, Musical Theatre Department from June 2012 to May 2014, Assistant Dean from 2013-2016, and conductor of the UST Liturgikon Vocal Ensemble from 2000 to present.At present he is the newly elected President of the UST Conservatory of Music Alumni Association. Mr. Eugene De los Santos, OP is the President of the Our Lady of La Naval Lay Dominican Fraternity, President of Region 3 Council and Vice-President of the Provincial Council of the Dominican Laity Philippine Dominican Province.

NELSON ESPEJO
Youth Solo Rondalla and Children’s Rondalla Ensemble Categories

With more than 30 years of experience in Rondalla as a performer, teacher, conductor, and arranger, Nelson Espejo is presently a core member of the highly acclaimed Celso Espejo Rondalla (CER) since 2002. He is also the conductor and trainer of the Sisters of Mary School Rondalla of Silang, Cavite; the Casa Del Bambino Montessori Rondalla of Batangas City; and the co-trainer of the Villa Escudero Rondalla since 1986.His accomplishments, among others includes, First place winners in two of the major Rondalla competitions, the 2007 NAMCYA Rondalla (Category B) and the 2011 Musikahan sa Tagum “Rondall-Awit” (Open category). In the Global scene, he participated in the International Rondalla Festivals.

He took part in the International Music Festivals held in Krasnoyarks City, Siberia, Russia on 2012 and in the Vatican City, Rome, Italy on 2013. He represents the Philippines by leading a Philippine Rondalla Group in their concerts series for the “Klondike Days Festival” held in Edmonton City, Alberta, Canada. He also led two Rondalla groups in South Korea and won the Most Outstanding Performance Award for two consecutive years in the 10th and 11th Busan International Cultural Festival held at Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO) on 2007 and 2008.

In his other endeavors, he judged for the 2010 grand finals of the solo banduria (Category C) and in the 2011 regional and grand finals of Rondalla (Category A) of the NAMCYA. In 2013, the NAMCYA commissioned his arrangement entitled “Poet and Peasant Overture (Excerpt)” for the grand finals piece of the Rondalla category B.

As a resource person for the Rondalla workshop module, he began working with the CCP Outreach’s Sining Sa Eskwela (SSE) on 2012, in their series of Special Program for the Arts (SPA) teachers workshop in Region III, Region V, twice in Region X, Region XI and recently, in the National Advance Arts Workshop held at the Philippine High School for the Arts in Mt. Makiling, Los Baños, Laguna, and in the first ever National oriented guitar workshop module, which was participated by more than 20 rondalla teachers, students and enthusiast from all the country.

KAREN FATIMA FRANCISCO,
Junior Piano Category 

Born in Manila, Philippines, Karen Fatima Francisco studied at the University of the Philippines College of Music with pianist and conductor, Regalado Jose.  Early career landmarks included winning first prize at the Mozart Piano Competition at the University of the Philippines and the Rosario Picazo Piano Competition at Santa Isabel College and second prize at the NAMCYA for categories A2 and C. At the age of fifteen, she was invited by national artist, Lucrecia Kasilag, to be the pianist of the Manila Children’s Choir for their concert tour in the United States and Canada.

After graduating “magna cum laude” from the University of the Philippines College of Music, she was granted a scholarship from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts to pursue her masters as a soloist at the Hochschule für  Musik “Franz Liszt” in Weimar, Germany.  She studied with pianists, Gerlinde Otto and Rolf-Dieter Arens, and took chamber music from  Ulrich Beetz, violinist of the world-renowned ensemble, the ABEGG Trio. While in Berlin, she also took lessons from Klaus Bäβler at the Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” and Berlin-based Polish pianist, Barbara Polonek.

Her international career as pianist, chamber musician and accompanist has so far included concerts in Philippines, USA, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland.  She has performed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Philamlife Auditorium in Manila, the Renaissance Theater Berlin, and the Philharmonie in Essen.  She also developed a passion for opera as she started to work for the MusicArtes production of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, where she collaborated with Maestro Lim Yau.

Karen Fatima Francisco was appointed Assistant Professor at the De La Salle University School of Arts and Design in Manila and Senior Lecturer at the University of the Philippines College of Music.  She was invited as featured artist for the radio program “Bravo Filipino” on 98.7 DZFE, as juror and chairperson (piano category B) for the NAMCYA in the Philippines, and as solo artist and artistic director of the De La Salle Zobel Youth Orchestra for the Guam Performing Arts Festival.  She has also premiered compositions such as the Philippine opera “San Andres B” by Josefino Toledo at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and “Bagatelles for piano” by Jonas Baes at the University of the Philippines College of Music. Furthermore, she was invited by the Russian Ministry of Culture and the Russian Federation of UNESCO to represent the Philippines as a pianist at the fourth Asia-Pacific Music Festival in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

She is currently taking her PhD in music performance at the Philippine Women’s University under Leonor Kilayko.

RUBEN REYES
Guitar Category

Ruben F. Reyes holds a unique position in Philippine Classical Guitar as a performer and pedagogue. He performed for the CCP’s Filipino Artist Series in 1994 where he premiered Bernardino Custodio’s “Prelude and Fugue for Classical Guitar”. He has also been featured soloist with the UST Orchestra performing Rodrigo’s “Concerto de Aranjuez”, Bolling’s “Suite for Classical Guitar and Jazz Piano” with MAJAM, Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint” with the UST Guitar Ensemble, and Vivaldi’s “Concerto in D” with the Clarion Chamber Ensemble. He has made numerous performances with the Clarion Chamber Ensemble, notably Piazzolla’s “Histoire du Tango for Flute and Guitar”.
In September 2008 he was the guitarist and arranged the songs for guitar and voice in the CD “O Naraniag a Bulan”, produced by TAWID Publications.

In August 2009 he was one of the featured soloists in FILFEST Cultural Foundation’s Pluck and Struck where he performed the Philippine premier of Brouwer’s “Concerto Elegiaco for Guitar and Orchestra”.

At present he is the leader and Music Director of the Silangan Chamber Guitar Ensemble which is dedicated to the performance of music for guitar ensemble.
Ruben F. Reyes holds a Master’s degree in Music, summa cum laude from the UST Graduate School. He taught at the UST Conservatory from 1994 to 2011, where he formed and led the UST Guitar Ensemble. He currently teaches Guitar at the College of Music of St. Paul’s University, Manila and the Conservatory of Music of Centro Escolar University, Manila.

BENICIO SOKKONG 
Traditional Music Category

Hailing from Baguio City, Benicio Sokkong is a main figure in the preservation and promotion of Cordillera’s music, arts, and traditions.

He teaches Cordillera Music and Dance at the University of Baguio. He is also a member of the National Committee on Music, National Commission for Culture and the Arts. He is Chairperson, Cordillera Music, Tutorial and Research Center(School of Living Traditions), and Manufacturer/Owner of Ethno Muzik Craft (Bamboo Musical Instrument Shop).
He does community outreach and tutorials to various cultural communities, schools, music bands, religious groups and traditional organizations to raise awareness and re-orientation of participants on Cordillera culture and art. He also incorporates traditional Cordillera music into the liturgical music and songs, fusion with other Filipino and international modes of music.

He preserves and promotes Cordillera music and dance, while integrating indigenous knowledge in our identity as Filipinos. He initiates linkages with grass roots communities, local, national and international artists, and collaborates with artists focusing on the traditional-indigenous and world music fusions.

RALPH WALDO TAYLAN
Junior Strings Category

Ralph Waldo S. Taylan started playing the violin at seven years old.  He went on to be a scholar at the Philippine High School for the Arts and later pursued his Bachelor’s Degree and Masters of Music at the University of the Philippines College of Music. He has played with several local orchestras namely, the Manila Symphony Orchestra, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, and FILharmoniKA. He also represented the Philippines in several music camps and orchestras: the Southeast Asian Youth Orchestra in 2004, 2005, and 2008, Asian Youth Orchestra in 2007 and 2009, and the WFAO 2011 in Fukuoka. In 2008, he was awarded second prize at the NAMCYA Category C division. He was also featured as a soloist in the Paco Park Presents in 2009, a Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Outreach in 2017, and in several concerts of the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra.

At present, he is a faculty at the UP College of Music Extension Program and the St. Scholastica’s College Manila School of Music. He is a member of the Lozada Piano Trio and is currently the concertmaster of the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra.

JONATHAN VELASCO
Youth Choir – Equal and Mixed Voices Category

Jonathan Velasco is a much sought after choral conductor, clinician and
adjudicator in the world today. He studied at the University of the Philippines
College of Music and at the Berliner Kirchenmusikschule in Germany, where he finished with distinction. He was a member and assistant conductor of the World Youth Choir, and for the 1996 summer session became its first Asian conductor. He will be conducting the World Youth Choir for the third time, in 2018.

Velasco regularly holds choral clinics and workshops all over the world. Together with his choirs, he has won first prizes in choral competitions in Maribor, Cork, Marktoberdorf, Tolosa, Torrevieja, and Riga. He currently conducts the Ateneo Chamber Singers. He has also been a member of the jury in the most prestigious choral competitions in Europe and Asia.

Velasco is an adviser to the board of the International Federation for Choral Music, and is the Philippine representative to the World Choir Council of Interkultur. He was part of the Artistic Committee to the 2008 World Symposium on Choral Music (WSCM) in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is again invited to the same position for the 2020 WSCM in Auckland, New Zealand. Velasco is a member of the Board of Trustees of the NAMCYA. In 2008, he was elected the first President of the newly formed Philippine Choral Directors Association.