Choir conductor and music educator are FZR-GAD Awardees

(MAR. 26) — A choir conductor and music educator were named as the Flora Zarco Rivera Gender and Development Award (FZR-GAD) recipients on Mar. 25 at the Abelardo Hall Auditorium.

The FZR-GAD awardees were Maria Lourdes Venida-Hermo, Virlanie Voices choirmaster and choral clinician, and Engracia Reyes Lim, a music educator and founder of the Quezon Memorial Circle Golden Nightingale Chorale and the Open School for Music.

Now on its second year, the FZR-GAD Award is given annually to community leaders who are advocates of women empowerment and children’s rights in music and the arts. It was established in 2018 by the UP College of Music (CMu) in cooperation with the Diliman Gender Office (DGO).


Venida-Hermo. A respected conductor and musical director in the Philippines, Venida-Hermo is the founding board member of the Philippine Choral Directors Association.

She earned her BS Physical Therapy in 1977 and obtained her Bachelor and Master of Music in 1982 and 1988 all at UP in the Diliman campus.

CMU recognized Venida-Hermo for “her leadership as the director and ‘mother’ to the children of Virlanie Voices, the choral arm of the Virlani Foundation.”

Virlani Foundation is the largest private non-sectarian child caring institution in Metro Manila, which serves abandoned, exploited and orphaned children found living in the streets.

“Under her leadership, Virlanie Voices has soared—singing, touring and competing around the country and in Europe,” reads her commendation.

Furthermore, Venida-Hermo “has used her love for music to empower the children of Virlanie Voices to become disciplined, high-functioning citizens, capable of dreaming and working towards a brighter future.”


Reyes-Lim. A music educator who obtained her Bachelor and Master of Music from CMu, Reyes-Lim was recognized for “sharing the joys of a musical education with her community and providing avenues for music making for everyone within it.”

Reyes-Lim was commended for her involvement in community music as parish church organist to several choral groups namely, Gabay Tinig Choir, Awit Panalangin Choir, Adoracion Nocturna Choir, Marriage Encounter Choir and Bagong Pag-asa Elementary School Choir in Barangay Bagong Pag-asa in Quezon City.

CMu also lauded her for giving “opportunity to train aspiring musicians to be accompanists and leaders themselves.”

As Open School for Music (2016) founder, Reyes-Lim “has served to empower members of the community by providing education opportunities for all and allowing students to become contributors themselves towards the welfare and the betterment of life within the community.”

CMu Dean Verne Dela Peña, CMu Music Education Department Professors Jocelyn Guadalupe and Maria Sherla Najera, Prof. Nancy Kimuell-Gabriel, PhD, Diliman Gender Office coordinator, and Eva Cadiz, co-head of the CMu Gender Committee, gave the awardees a purple alampay or shawl weaved in Tinguian, Abra, a token of appreciation and P25,000 from the GAD office as project assistance to their community initiatives.

In his welcome remarks, De la Peña said the awardees “embody the motto that the college has adopted. The motto goes this way: imagine, embody, engage. Imagine your music, what it can truly attain; embody your vision because music requires discipline and without a clear vision, it’s easy to give up or get lost, and engage the world because our music, our artistry does not exist in a vacuum.”

Meanwhile, in her message, Kimuell-Gabriel said, “Ngayon ang ikalawang taon na pagbibigay ng Gawad, at sa patuloy na pagsasagawa nito ay naiinstitusyonalisa natin ang gawaing ito pati na rin ang diwa kung bakit natin ito ginagawa at itinataguyod. Ito ay para panatilihing buhay ang diwa ng paglilingkod na nakalaan sa pagpapalakas at pagpapalaya ng kababaihan at iba pang kasarian.”

Past and present winners of FZR-GAD Award together with (from left) Prof. Guadalupe, Dr. Dela Peña, Dr. Kimuell-Gabriel, Dr. Rivera-Mirano, Prof. Valenciano and Prof. Najera.

The FZR-GAD award is named after Prof. Flora Zarco Rivera, former CMu choral conducting professor and founder of the UP Cherubim and Seraphim (UPCS), UP’s official children’s choir.

CMu honored Rivera with a short audio-visual presentation about her life and works.

Rivera’s children Prof. Robin Rivera and Prof. Elena Rivera-Mirano, PhD, former College of Arts and Letters dean, grandchildren and great grandchildren were present at the ceremony. Rivera-Mirano responded on her family’s behalf on CMu’s tribute to their mother.

The program was emceed by Prof. December Valenciano. Musical numbers were provided by Sparrow Music Vocal Trio under the direction of former FZR-GAD awardee Ferdinand D. Medina and the UPCS conducted by Alyssa Liyana Dioquino. They were accompanied by Prof. Michelle Nicolasora, PhD of the CMu Piano and Keyboard Department.

Sparrow Music Vocal Trio performed “Dandansoy” and “Chichiritchit” as arranged by Lucrecia Kasilag, while the UPCS sang “Kalo-ob,” composed by De la Peña in response to the National Music Competitions for Young Artists.  —Haidee C. Pineda, images by Leonard A. Reyes

Posted: March 27, 2019 19:29