PHYSICIAN-composer Ramon “Mon” del Rosario, Jr. was literally in the right place when the idea for his famous pop music composition Sino Ang Baliw? dawned on him: He was a UST Medicine student on duty in the psychiatry ward attending to mentally-ill patients.

With its catchy melody and stunning lyrics, Sino Ang Baliw? went on to win the grand prize in the Metro Manila Popular Music Festival songwriting competition. The amateur composer got the P50,000 cash prize.

“It was such a happy moment when I won for Sino Ang Baliw?. I never thought that the money would be such a big amount,” Del Rosario told the Varsitarian.

From Baliw, Del Rosario went on to write songs in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s that perfectly captured the Filipino’s romantic psyche with monster hits like Isang Linggong Pag-ibig, and Somewhere in My Past, among others.

He also became a top movie scorer.

Del Rosario merged his love of music with his tough studies at the College of Science.

“I was just in first year of Medicine when I started doing music professionally,” he said. “Sometimes it would take me three to five days to write songs. But I never felt tired of doing things I love. I was writing lyrics, and pairing them with melodies.”

Del Rosario wrote songs, recorded and submitted demos to different music companies. His school allowance came from the compositions.

Del Rosario got Bachelor of Science in 1978, and Medicine in 1982. His famous batch mates from Medicine are singer Nonoy Zuñiga, and former secretary of health Francisco Duque III.

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Del Rosario was a medical intern at the Fort Bonifacio Hospital when Ninoy Aquino, Jr. was assassinated and rushed there.

After taking the Medicine board exams, Del Rosario worked as an artist and repertoire director at Emerald Music, Inc., where he worked with the late singer, Julie Vega, and created the memorable song. Somewhere in My Past. At the same time, he was also a record producer and made theme songs for films such as Working Girls under Viva Films.

With two years spent on supervising musical recordings, Del Rosario tried his luck in being a musical director for full-length films in 1987.

Soon, he was producing music for two to three films a month, such as Masahol Pa Sa Hayop, Starzan, Elvis and James, and Wanted Perfect Mother.

Del Rosario worked with various artists such as Joey de Leon, Vic Sotto, Dolphy, and Sharon Cuneta, and became the music scorer of choice for Star Cinema, Regal, and Viva Films. He considers one of his greatest achievements the score he did for Macho Dancer, which was directed by National Artist for Film Lino Brocka, and which garnered acclaim in Europe.

Del Rosario said his chief influence was composer Snaffu Rigor, composer of T.L Ako Sa ’Yo and lyricist of Bato sa Buhangin. “His attitude is as good as the music he makes,” he said. “I am not what I am now without my mentor, my brother, my friend – Snaffu.”

Composer George Canseco and National Artist for Music Levi Celerio are also musicial influences. Canseco, he said, taught him lyric-writing (Canseco was nephew of Tagalog poet and “Ama ng Balirala,” Lope K. Santos), while Celerio gave him pointers on musical arranging and instrumentation.

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Medical financer

But in 2000, Mon made a surprising career twist: he entered the world of financial services.

“I didn’t want anymore to hear music. I don’t actually know why or how come. I just had to leave music for some time. I wanted to experience life without the sharps and flats,” he explained.

As a financial planner, he dealt in credit cards and insurances. He prepared hospitalization coverages and benefits for corporations. While in medicine school, he had learned of the social inequalities in health care. So that in his financial planning career, he felt like a doctor again, diagnosing the ills of the financial-services world.

But toward 2002, Del Rosario re-established his connections in the music industry. He returned to the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc., a non-stock, non-profit association of composers, lyric-writers and music publishers. Currently he is the association’s president.

Del Rosario has also been busy with Talent Asia, a music training and artist management center that offers training courses in singing, songwriting and musical arrangement. He has also developed an innovative training technique, “edutainment,” which employs educational entertainment in music instruction. He tells his students his technique in effective song-writing is an “artistic process with a twist of science.”

“Every sound has a frequency, every frequency has a melody,” Mon del Rosario said. “I may have graduated as a doctor, and could have gone far in the medical field. There was never a day that I regret that where I am right now, not knowing where this could be heading.”

“We don’t make decisions to be unhappy. I want to teach and train people because I can be their instrument to cure life’s ills.” M.R.B. Maranan

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