Ladislao Bonus


1854 – 1908


Who was Ladislao Bonus?

Ladislao Bonus was a composer, conductor, contrabass player, and teacher. His pioneering work on musical drama earned him the title of "Father of the Filipino opera".

The eldest son of Pedro Bonus and Maria Mariano, he was born in Pandacan on June 27, 1854. He acquired his first lessons in music from Gregorio de Luna and Guillermo de Luna. Motivated by a strong desire to learn, he became so proficient with the violin, cello and viola that he could easily substitute for a player of any of those stringed instruments. He mastered the contrabass and served in the orchestra every time a foreign opera company visited Manila.

Sometime in 1887, Bonus organized a complete opera company in Pandacan. It was composed entirely of Tagalog musicians and singers, to wit: Teodora San Luis and Josefa Tiongson, sopranos; Victoria Madina, mezzo soprano; Andres Ciria Cruz and Jose Conseco, basses; and Carmen Mendoza, Juana Natividad, Remegio Natividad, Rufina Bonus, Agustin Natividad, Marcela Barroga, Simon Natividad, Valentin Natividad, and Mariano Natividad, chorus members. Bonus served in the company as director and conductor of the orchestra. Jose Canseco was the stage director.

The group’s maiden performance, which was held at the town’s cockpit was a success. There followed invitations for it to perform in Manila. In the capital city, the segundo cabo of the colonial government, Antonio Morto, became on of the opera’s zealous supporters. The Manila performances of the group won the hearts of the city folks and established Bonus’ reputation in the field of music.

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Resting place
Manila North Cemetery

on July 23, 2013


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