Thoughts & Memories:

The Composer of Catanduanes Beloved

Writing the biography of Macario Talan Arcilla Sr., composer of Catanduanes Provincial Anthem, has been my dream for sometime now. Two reasons inspire me: his children are my friends and I come from family of musicians. Honoring a musician is elevating my descendants and their profession.


Since Macario S. Arcilla Jr, namesake son of the composer, is my close friend, my desire to put in print his biography is on my “to do” priority list this year 2021.


Presenting my plan to Jun while swimming in Mamangal beach, he liked the idea and completely approved it. He even welcomed my invitation for him to join me on my writing table in Buyo to tell the story of his father.


Somehow Tang Cayong’s autobiography was just looking for a person to get interested in his story, for he wrote and finished his autobiography years before ‘crossing the bar,’ 25 ago. What’s left now is to put it on print.


Five days later, Jun sent me the written autobiography of Macario T Arcilla Sr. which he obtained from his son Coco now living in Camarines Sur. I believe this autobiography had been dormant for more than 25 years, waiting to be printed, so Catandunganons may know Macario T. Arcilla Sr., of ‘Catanduanes Beloved’ fame as a person; a likeable, loveable workaholic, working student, voracious reader and a decisive man.


Decisiveness Counts

On July 15, 1928, three classmates, Juan Tablizo, Ricardo Vargas and Macario Arcilla proposed to leave for Manila to seek greener pastures. On the date of departure, Ricardo Vargas was not with them for his parents and his brothers did not allow him to leave.


Upon his arrival in Manila, Macario took a carretela and directed the cochero to proceed to National University where his cousin Florencio Guerrero was working as janitor. When he arrived, he saw Enciong mopping the floor of a big mess hall. Macario was narrating all interesting stories that had happened in Virac, including the lady betrothed to Enciong, when without noticing it, he was already helping Enciong by stretching the table clothes on the table.


Thus, when Miss Salud Sevilla, mestiza dean of the Girls National Hall, National University, was surprised by Macario’s presence, she asked Enciong why somebody is working without her knowledge.


He defended his cousin by telling Miss Sevilla, “I just arrived from our province and while telling my cousin Enciong about his family, relatives and other stories, I decided to help him to finish his work, Ma’am.”


He took his chance by declaring his desire to work under her at National University even without compensation.


Miss Sevilla said, “I don’t keep boys here if they are not studying and enrollment is already over.”

He retorted, “As a poor boy, even if I would not study provided I could work and eat. I would gladly be willing to do so.”


Suddenly a miracle happens, a classmate in high school, Julian Arevalo, arrived and embraced him, saying, “You’re a big guy now.”


Dean Sevilla was impressed by their closeness and told Julian to run to the Registrar’s Office to verify whether enrollment was closed already, only to discover that that very day was the last day of enrollment.


The rest was an icing to the cake: Macario was accepted as a working student and, out of happiness, he shouted, thanking God for his timely luck and decisiveness.


God indeed works in mysterious ways.

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