• Despite inadequate funds and other handicaps, Guidote has made drama an integral part of Filipino life.
  • From schools in Panay, Bicol and Mindanao, to cockpits in Negros and Romblon, improvised stages in Mountain Province, and a boxing ring in Cebu, Kabayao has purposefully given of his talent, often contributing the proceeds from his performances to community projects.
  • In their separate yet complementary ways these two gifted Filipinos have demonstrated that the quality of life can be enhanced for a people by individuals who care and who school their artistic talents to this purpose.
  • The Board of Trustees of the RMAF recognizes Cecile R. Guidote and Gilopez Kabayao for “their leadership in the renaissance of the performing arts, giving a new cultural content to popular life.”


Frequently eclipsed by the sheer struggle for physical well-being are those aspects of life from which higher inspiration is drawn. The spirit moves man to accomplishment against obstacles he may otherwise judge insuperable. During past millennia of recorded civilization the performing arts have prompted man to realize his inner potential in a manner matched by few other influences except religion.

Throughout the Philippine Archipelago only in this century with the coming of modern transport and communication have most individuals found an opportunity to participate in a truly national consciousness. Commerce, education and politics dominated this emerging Filipino identity for many decades.

Meanwhile, a nucleus of artistically creative pioneers encouraged their fellow countrymen to seek a deeper understanding of themselves. Upon foundations they built, today’s generation canenlarge the public arena in which theater, music and other performing arts become a relevant experience to the majority.

Following in the path marked by founders of drama groups like Severino Montano, Wilfredo Guerrero and Lamberto Avellana, CECILE GUIDOTE has added new dimensions to Filipino theater. Born 29 years ago to a mother who supported her family as a nurse after the death of her guerrilla captain husband during World War II, she early showed precocious talent. Later, teaching at St. Paul College in Manila and studying at the State University of New York and the Dallas Theater Center in Texas, she devised a practical program for a national theater. Organized in 1967, this became the Philippine Educational Theater Association, known familiarly as PETA.

While many have devoted abilities and time to PETA and its emphasis upon theater for education, CECILE GUIDOTE, serving as Executive Director, has totally dedicated herself to its purposes, despite inadequate funds and other handicaps. A “Theater in the Ruins” at Fort Santiago is only one among numerous PETA efforts to make drama an integral part of Filipino life. Consequential for both young and adult thespians are PETA’s training courses in writing, staging, directing and acting. These frequently focus upon realities of today but insist that dramatic excellence comes first.

For culturally deprived rural Filipinos GILOPEZ KABAYAO, playing the violin and occasionally the piano, has opened musical vistas they would not otherwise have known. Son of a prosperous doctor-farmer, he learned first to play the violin from his father and the piano from his mother. Eventually training under American, Italian and French masters, he became an international virtuoso, invited to perform with the Vienna and Tokyo Symphony Orchestras and at Town Hall in New York. Nevertheless his major effort since 1952 has been devoted to bringing fine music to his own people. From schools in Panay, Bicol and Mindanao, to cockpits in Negros and Romblon, improvised stages in Mountain Province, and a boxing ring in Cebu, he has purposefully given of his talent, often contributing the gate proceeds to community projects.

GILOPEZ KABAYAO thinks of music as much more than entertainment. In a world that hardens men and women, he is convinced their callousness can be overcome by the “soothing, elevating, humanizing and divinifying power of music.” Accompanied on the piano sometimes by his mother or sister, this 42-year-old violinist has won a tremendous response from diverse audiences throughout the islands. Patiently, he has taught students wherever he goes the theory of music and encouraged them to play instruments.

In their separate yet complementary ways these two gifted Filipinos have demonstrated that the quality of life can be enhanced for a people by individuals who care and who school their artistic talents to this purpose.

In electing CECILE REYES GUIDOTE and GILOPEZ KABAYAO to share the 1972 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes their leadership in the renaissance of the performing arts, giving a new cultural content to popular life.


It is with a feeling both of nostalgia and appreciation that I accept this Award: appreciation for the honor to be chosen in this field which has been and will always be close to me—something which has been and will forever be part of my life; nostalgia because this Award brings back to me vividly the experiences which are now behind me and memories of those who worked with me. I do not feel that I should relish this alone as I was not alone in my endeavor, my dreams, my desire to bring fine music, not only to the privileged few, but also to those less fortunate brothers who live in the far-flung hinterlands of our country, who have every right to share the beautiful experience of soul-enrichment through the fine music of our people as well as of the people of other lands. I cannot detach myself, especially at this high point of my career from the people who swept cockpit floors to accommodate our performances, from those who had to move their precious pianos through windows so we could perform for the public, from those who had to walk long distances and leave their farms to listen to our music, our brothers in Kona on the island of Hawaii, forgotten and deserted, but who will treasure in their few remaining years the sound of our folk music which they had not heard since they left the Philippines some 50 years ago. What greater motivation is there to bring music to these people than that inspired by those who believed and had faith that we would succeed? And we did! The few hours or even the few minutes of listening to our music gave them more than material things could contribute to their very humanity.

Through my 20 years of struggle in an effort to bring good music to our people, I have seen how faith has pulled us through many difficulties and enabled us to influence peoples’ attitudes and change their indifference and skepticism to open-mindedness.

Permit me to address myself to my younger sister Marcelita, who was my partner in my early pioneer work to condition barrio people to classical music; to my other dedicated piano accompanists, who have been far more than accompanists and who have shared the same spirit and enthusiasm, in spite of discomforts, to the countless organizations which have extended support to our projects; and to my whole family who, from my childhood, have never abandoned me in my dream and who selflessly supported me in this continuing effort. These gestures of self sacrifice have made wonderful beings of the many people we have met. These many acts of kindness made the difference between failure and success. I recognize all these as integral parts of my effort—and of whatever sense of accomplishment I now have. With all of them I would like to share this honor.

As a result of our work which has spanned almost a generation, I have seen young people grow into mature adults with appreciation of fine music. Ours is a continuing crusade to expose our young people to the arts, to provide a balancing factor of the right types of music to give them the right tools with which to appreciate music and thus help them in developing a taste for the finer things in life. I hope that our school system will continue to emphasize music appreciation and that our media will give the people more time and more exposure toe fine music, for I strongly believe that it is essential in developing the sensitivity, awareness and compassion of an individual to others.

I regret that I could not personally accept this Award from the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation as I presently have various engagements to fulfill in the continuing work for which I have been honored. I would like to acknowledge with appreciation this recognition by the Foundation. It has provided me with great reassurance and encouragement to pursue my work in bringing the fine music of the masters to our people as well as exposing our beautiful folk songs and music to international audiences. I consider this moment not a culmination but a fresh challenge. I accept this challenge with high hopes that my people will join me with great vigor in this unfinished task. With your continued help we can do more.


Third generation scion of a musically gifted family, GILOPEZ KABAYAO was born on December 23, 1929 at Fara-on, the sugar plantation of his family near Fabrica, Negros Occidental, the Philippines. His maternal grandfather was Gil Lopez, well-known Philippine musician and composer who taught his five daughters to sing and play the violin, viola and piano. His daughter Marcela, a piano prodigy at nine and later a teacher of that instrument, married Doroteo Kabayao, a violinist as well as a surgeon and farmer. Doroteo had worked his way through Rush Medical College of the University of Chicago in the United States, playing his violin. Born into such a musical family GILOPEZ and his three sisters—Punay, Nita and Marcelita—were early introduced to fine music. All were to become distinguished performers, in particular GILOPEZ—named for his grandfather whose two names were combined into one—and his youngest sister, Marcelita.

From the age of three GILOPEZ improvised short pieces in the style of the minuet on the piano. At six he began to study the violin under his father and the piano under his mother. At age nine he made his debut with the local symphony orchestra playing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor. Nevertheless, in his early years GILOPEZ aspired to be a surgeon like his father, and his sisters still remember how he operated mercilessly on their dolls.

GILOPEZ began school at the Gil Lopez Elementary School, established by his grandfather in Fabrica. In 1938 he entered the Elementary Department of Silliman University (a protestant missionary school) in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, and enrolled concurrently in the university’s School of Music where he studied under Federico H. Daval-Santos. The following year, in Bacolod, Negros Occidental, his parents opened the Academy of Music under Daval-Santos’ direction which he attended.

(For the complete biography, please email biographies@rmaf.org.ph)