Ed Maguiat: The man behind the UP Singing Ambassadors

May 18,2017
Ed Maguiat


Under his baton, UPSA and UP Serenata will hold a back-to-back concert in Cebu this June

WITH a wave of Dr. Ed Manguiat’s hands, the UP Serenata—the University of the Philippines Cebu’s official choral group—sang “Ride the Chariot” seamlessly, their soulful voices filling the room.

It had only been a dream of multiawarded conductor Dr. Ed to pursue music. Now he leads a group of singers in performing both in the local and
international stage.

“I always wanted to take up music, but the whole family was against it because they believed that music could not raise a family so they urged me to finish another course instead,” he told Cebu Daily News.

Dr. Ed’s family wanted him to be a doctor so he took up a pre-medicine program. He, however, dropped it as he had no interest in the program and
later shifted to hotel restaurant and management to appease his parents.

“I complied with my parents’ wish and finished HRM, and then I immediately took up music to follow what I love most.

They wanted me to become a doctor but I became a (music) conductor instead,” Dr. Ed remarked, before breaking into a laugh.

It took 10 years for Dr. Ed to finish his music degree at the University of the Philippines, since he was almost always overseas attending workshops and symposiums, and at the same time, working as a conductor for the choir group of Astra Zeneca Pharmaceuticals.

“I was with Astra choir. They have joined international competitions like in Europe. It was fun but after three years, I had to leave the group to
concentrate on my singing lessons. That’s when I co-founded the UPSA,” said Dr. Ed.

With its 24 original members, UPSA started out as a freshman dormitory choir at the State University back in 1980. It is one of the University’s
Performing Groups based in the UP College of Arts & Letters.

Like any other group, UPSA started singing for weddings of the country’s most prominent families and conducting benefit concerts for the less-privileged individuals, victims of calamities like earthquakes and the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.

“We were always told to join international competitions, but I just think we were not yet ready, especially in financial matters,” he said.

It was during one of their outreach programs when they met the late Meldy Cojuangco, who promised them help and inspired them to fulfill their dreams.

“Everything is like a dream. Di siya sinadya ng dahil sa nangyari, nagkabit-kabit lahat,” Dr. Ed said, sharing the group’s humble beginnings.

Under Dr. Ed’s baton, UPSA has been continuously bringing pride and honor to the country through its victory in national and international competitions for more than 30 years.

It has brought home grand prizes and other accolades from Italy,

Hungary, France, Bulgaria, Wales, Switzerland, Spain, Poland, Slovakia, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

UPSA has also made history being the first Asian choir group to win the first prize in the most prestigious Arezzo in Italy, chosen as the country’s official entry to 2005 UNESCO International Music Prize in Paris and named as the Best University Choir at the “Who’s Who in the Philippines.”
To mark its 37th year anniversary, UPSA will hold a back-to-back concert with UP Serenata entitled, “The UP Singing Ambassadors in the Queen City” at the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Mabolo, Cebu City, on June 9.

“The impression when you do choral music is that it’s classical but no, we do jazz and pop too. Choral groups are slowly reaching out to a bigger audience,” he said.

Aside from the classical and traditional Filipino music, the concert will perform classic Cebuano songs such as “Rosas Pandan,” “Usahay” and “Damgohon Ko Na Lang.”

Having performed internationally and locally, Dr. Ed shared that it’s almost always the Filipino audience that is harder to please.

“Mas mahirap na audience ang Filipino, mas discriminating tayo. We are very hard to please and we often look for mistakes and we are often more visual like costumes, lights and choreography. Unlike abroad that there is initial discrimination, when they discover your high musicality, they would approach you,” he said.

The upcoming concert will serve as a fund-raising event for both choir groups to be able to join competitions internationally.
Tickets for the event are priced at P300 and P500 for VIP packages.

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