For almost seven decades now, the Foundation University Hymn has been sung across generations of alumni who went through the pillars of the institution.
It has been known to many that the University’s founder himself, Dr. Vicente G. Sinco (8th President of the University of the Philippines and dean of the UP College of Law) wrote the text of the hymn. But little is known about the person behind the music that accompanies the hymn lyrics.
In time for this year’s graduation, it’s but fitting to know more about Dr. Eliseo M. Pajaro – the man who set the hymn text into music.
Dr. Eliseo Morales Pajaro was born March 21, 1915, in Badoc, Ilocos Norte and was trained to play in school bands. He obtained formal music training from the University of the Philippines and was later awarded scholarships to pursue graduate studies at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York where he obtained his masters of music (1951) and doctor in composition (1953).
Dr. Pajaro served as acting director (1967-1968) of the conservatory and then acting dean (1968-1969) of the UP College of Music. On his return from his studies abroad, he taught at UP, Philippine Women’s University and Santa Isabel College.
Among his notable works are as follows: the orchestra piece, The Life of Lam-ang (1951); the opera, Binhi ng Kalayaan (1961); the zarzuela, Ang Magsasaka (1968) and the ballet piece Mir-I-nisa (1969) – a commissioned composition work for the inauguration of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra was once under the baton of Dr. Pajaro.
In the field of liturgical music, Dr. Pajaro was instrumental in setting to music the first wave of original Filipino hymns produced by the mainline Protestant and evangelical churches. Most of the works were published in “Ang Pilipino Himnal.” Dr. Pajaro possessed this special skill of rendering the fitting music to the hymn texts whether it was for church or for a school hymn like in the case of Foundation University.
In 1955, he founded the League of Philippine Composers and the Philippine Music Educators Group. For his music works, he received several award namely: Republic Cultural Heritage Award (1964), the Keyboard Medal of Merit and the Presidential Merit Award (1966).
Dr. Pajaro is known as an exponent of the modern techniques in composition as influenced by his exposure abroad and with the so-called American neoclassicism. Among many who studied composition under Dr. Pajaro, two were later recognized as national artists namely: contemporary and pop composer Raymundo Cipriano “Ryan” P. Cayabyab and the late Dr. Francisco F. Feliciano – founder of the defunct Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music.
Dr. Pajaro passed on to the next life while staying in Houston, USA at the age of 69 on October 6, 1984.
Foundation University’s Hymn, when sung up until today in most official functions as an education institution of higher learning, reminds the students, alumni and the whole academic community that its founding is indeed a “benediction,” a blessing for providing equal opportunities to quality education in this part of the country. Furthermore, it conveys loyalty to the institution that has been consistent, over the year, in contributing to the progress of the nation by producing educated and service-oriented citizens.
Quirino, C. (1995) Who’s who in Philippine history, Tahanan Books, Manila Rodell, P. A. (2001) Customs and Cultures of the Philippines, Greenwood, Connecticut
Guillermo, A. R. (2011) Historical Dictionary of the Philippines,Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland