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Prof. Siegfredo Baldemor Calabig (affectionately referred to as Ka Fred) comes from a musically inclined family based in the town of Paete in Laguna province, noted for its skilled craftsmen and artisans. In fact, the town’s name, Paete, was named after “paet”, the Filipino word for a carpenter’s chisel.

His first music teachers were his very own parents. His mother taught him how to read notes (solfeggio) when he was seven years old while his father (himself a professional musician and carpenter) taught him how to play brass instruments, particularly the trumpet and the French horn starting as early as nine years old. Together with his two other brothers, Ka Fred would join his father’s brass band and get exposed to the life of a musician. Because his family could not afford to send him to the Conservatory of Music and pursue his dream career, he went on to obtain a degree in secondary education.

He was hired as a music teacher at the high school department of the then Philippine College of Commerce (now the Polytechnic University of the Philippines) and was requested by the high school principal, Mrs. Gloria R.Talastas, to start an orchestra.

ROSS87341-450x272His initial idea of setting up a drum and bugle corps proved to be too expensive so the principal suggested that he form a bamboo orchestra instead. At first, Ka Fred was reluctant to accept the job since he had no background whatsoever with making instruments, much less with bamboo. However, he was eventually convinced to give it a try, given his background in music and carpentry.

photo-3-450x600After countless hours of experimentation, Ka Fred was able to come up with his initial prototypes and through the years have developed his own unique set of instruments from different types of bamboo sourced from all over the Philippines combined with other indigenous materials. With his boundless curiosity, innovation and creativity, he continues to produce new bamboo-based instruments.

In his desire to share his passion for promoting music and the widespread use of bamboo and indigenous materials, he has collaborated with other organizations from both the public and private sectors by supplying them with bamboo instruments and training them to start their own bamboo-based performing groups.