Ang Misyon, Inc.

Ang Misyon Scholar Stories: Carmela Casas

“In this world that is full of rock and pop, classical music is gold. Normally, when someone finds out you are into classical music, they would be surprised because it is not popular in this era.”

Carmela Casas in a public performance with the Orchestra of the Filipino Youth (Power Plant Mall, Makati, 2018)

Carmela Casas, Orchestra of the Filipino Youth (OFY)’s flutist, shares her thoughts on the deeper meaning of classical music and her journey as a young musician.

Carmela has been an Ang Misyon scholar for six years and an active member of a local orchestra in Cardona. She grew up in a simple home in Binangonan, Rizal with her parents and two sisters. She has a stay-at-home mom who tends to their sari-sari store and a self-employed father who repairs music instruments for the band PYB9. Music has been a common interest in their family, aside from supporting Carmela’s performances. Her younger siblings both play the violin and are also part of Ang Misyon’s programs.

After over a year of being on community quarantine, Carmela is going to school online like most students. She opens up that it is hard to adapt to the new normal but somehow the normalcy of their day to day lives have continued despite the pandemic’s impact on finances. Carmela carries a sense of faith and gratitude passed on to her by her parents. She shares that among the values she has learned from them, being humble and respectful are what she applies most. Her optimism and self-trust have been ingrained at a young age, which may have helped her thrive in Ang Misyon.

Pre-performance preparations at Areté, Ateneo last 2019 with her mom and younger sisters Charmelle (in yellow) and Camille (in pink)

When asked how her orchestral training has impacted her life, she said, “Being part of Ang Misyon is a big opportunity for me. I learned and am still learning in terms of music, especially classical music. When I started in Ang Misyon, my life changed a whole lot. It has given me opportunities to make myself a better person and a better musician.

Carmela continued by sharing what Ang Misyon has taught her aside from music: “Ang Misyon has taught me to be thoughtful to the other members of the orchestra. It taught me that life is nothing without music. It taught me to be a better human, a better Filipino, and most importantly, a better version of myself.”

Carmela plays a solo during a workshop with OFY (Benpres Building, 2018)

She confessed that she had a tough time coping when she first started with OFY because she still saw herself as a beginner in a premier orchestra. But anchored with her values growing up, she learned to trust herself and her talent in playing the flute. Though she feels she still has a long way to go, she aims to do her best to truly deserve her seat. Carmela was one of the youngest scholars to join the OFY in their 2018 Qatar tour and she counts this as a big milestone in her life. She said that it makes her heart happy to have lived that dream. But what she finds valuable and unforgettable too are the Saturday rehearsals with her mentors, fellow scholars, and Ang Misyon staff.

The future is bright for Carmela as she plans to be a part of a world-famous orchestra and also sees herself learning other instruments like the cello and oboe. “This year, I am planning to improve myself more. As a musician, I want to finish solos and learn more techniques because I know I need it more. I want to make my parents proud. I want them to see me fulfilling my dreams as a musician, and I still want to learn more and explore the world of musicians.

Carmela remarked that classical music to her is how important a cellphone is for people nowadays. She cannot live without it. She indulged further on what this means to her and how it relates to everyone, whether they are musicians or not: “Classical music is not only the heritage left by geniuses like Mozart, Mahler, Tchaikovsky and a lot of virtuosos from history. Classical music is for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are three or a hundred years old. It is full of emotions and can tell stories about a person’s life experience, from tragedies to achievements.”

For her personally, it helps her relax, focus and stay motivated. It cures her stresses and makes life more meaningful. As a musician, “the more I understand it, the more I can play it better,” she said.

Learning online is a challenge but Carmela advises to adapt and use this as an opportunity

Her message to her fellow musicians as they navigate into the new platform of learning music is to adapt to this new way of life and learning. She considers this as a new experience and challenge, so they must think positively. She urges them to continue to learn and improve themselves and make this an opportunity to explore new things.

“Let’s pray this pandemic will end as soon as possible. Practice at home, enjoy every moment while making music, and enjoy your online lessons. Just go with the flow and continue to make good music!”