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FATHER PABLITO MAGHARI: A PIONEER COMPOSER OF HILIGAYNON

LITURGICAL MUSIC

Background and Rationale of the Study

Liturgical music, since the call for reforms in the liturgy of the Second Vatican Council more than

50 years ago, has seen a rebirth into the Catholic Church in ways which have transcended the usual

norms of sacred and liturgical music established by the Church in days of old. The translation of

the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass into the language of the peoples ushered in all parts of the world

what seemed to be an abandonment of the Latin language as the official liturgical language, being

substituted already by the dialect of the locality.

In the ecclesiastical province of Jaro and Capiz, that is, the civil provinces of Iloilo, Antique,

Aklan, Capiz, and even Negros and the surrounding islands, there have been certain songs used in

the Mass and the Liturgy in general that have already been imbibed in the minds of the laypeople.

Though separated by long distances and dialects, there is a seemingly uniform knowledge of these

hymns and songs among the locals, all written with Hiligaynon text. These compositions came

from and were composed by Rev. Fr. Eusebio Pablito C. Maghari, a diocesan priest from Antique

who is also informally regarded as the “Father of Local Liturgical Music.”

The aim of this study therefore is to put into writing the life and works of Fr. Maghari. His musical

training, exposure, as well as his career in the said field will be investigated by the researchers.

His works mainly his liturgical compositions will also be gathered, compiled, and ordered in a

chronological manner. With this, the researchers’ goal is to, at least, make a basis for a study

regarding liturgical music and its composers in this region including its history and development.
Statement of the Problem

a. General Objectives

The goal of this study is to document the life of Rev. Fr. Eusebio Pablito C. Maghari; his

upbringing and training which eventually led to his career as a composer for the liturgy. Another

aim of this research is to gather his compositions for the liturgy and order it chronologically from

his earliest works to those which he penned nearing his death. An inquiry about the inspirations

with which he composed some of his mass settings will also be set forth by the researchers. The

diaspora or mass ditribution of his compositions into the region will also be part of this study.

b. Specific Questions

This study aims to answer the following questions: “Who is Rev. Fr. Eusebio Pablito Chavoso-

Maghari?” “How did he acquire his musical skills?” “Who influenced him to be a musician?”

“What musical instrument did he play?” “How, where, and why did he compose his certain mass

settings?” “What were his inspirations in composing and where did he get his texts?” “How did

his work manage to be made known in the region?”

Terms to be Defined

Pioneer – a person or group that originates or helps open up a new line of thought or activity or a

new method or technical development

Composer – one that composes; especially: a person who writes music

Hiligaynon – the local dialect spoken by the natives of some parts of Panay Island specifically

Iloilo and Capiz

Liturgical – relating to, or having the characteristics of liturgy

Music – vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody, or harmony


Significance of the Study

This study will benefit the local Church of Panay and the surrounding regions especially for those

who want to study and research about the history and development of its own liturgical music. It

will give other researchers a brief glimpse of the genesis of liturgical music of the Panay peoples

and its neighboring areas specifically the role of Fr. Pabs as prime composer of the above-

mentioned type of music. The study will highlight and feature his compositions as examples par

excellence of music for the local Church. This research will also be of great value to the Roman

Catholic Diocese of San Jose de Antique since there are no existing studies regarding their own

patrimony and contribution to the local Church in this region.

Delimitation of the Study

This research will only deal with the life and works of Fr. Pabs as pioneer composer of church

music. Although there are other significant persons who are also contributors in this field, only his

compositions and career will be introspected. As to his works, the researchers will only give

attention to his creations dealing with the liturgy although he has pieces which are also secular in

nature (plays or zarzuelas, pop songs, inspirational songs). The researchers will gather all his

Masses, hymns, and other religious songs and arrange them, as much as possible, by their dates of

composition. If manuscripts are available, the researchers will produce facsimile copies of them

as well as encode them digitally for posterity. Details for these compositions like the inspiration

for composing, style or technique employed, and the likes will be given but not a full analysis

(chord progressions, harmony, form, etc.).

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