NO, this is not going to be the usual love story of boy-meets-girl, they fall in love, get married and live happily ever after. But it does begin with boy meeting a girl in 2006 when the Mandaue School of the Arts Children’s Choir and Dance Company had a concert tour in the United States.
When the group was in Utah, Cebu-born Dr. Rey Roa—who has a doctorate in music and is one of Utah’s finest piano, voice, organ and choral pedagogue who has a music studio there—was one of the hosts. In one of the sing-along gatherings he attended, he heard a voice that awed him at its possibilities. The voice belonged to June Ong, who was not a singer of that group, but a dancer. And a violinist, too.
At the back of Rey’s mind, this was a voice he could train, and nurture. June was then 15: Would it be possible to coach her to her utmost musical capability? Would she have the discipline, would she be willing? Would her parents consent?
With Rey’s help, June was back in Utah on February 2007, with a full academic scholarship at the Layton Christian Academy in Layton, Utah, at the same time that she studied violin, voice, music history and theory under him. In April of that year, June was proclaimed as (Utah) State Champion in two disciplines (voice and violin) during the Utah High School Activities Association “Fine Arts State Championship,” after which June presented numerous concerts and recitals all over the Salt Lake Valley.
It was in May of 2007 that it occurred to Rey that he would adopt this musically talented girl whom he felt was his daughter in a previous life. The feeling was mutual. Would it be possible?
June came back to the Philippines after her Utah studies and enrolled herself at the Cebu Normal University. When Rey came to the Philippnes in 2008, the two had a series of duo concerts in Cebu City and in Camotes, his hometown, where he had his first piano lesson from his mother, Floripinas Roa.
After these concerts, Rey put in place his plan to adopt June. It was easier, he said, to tell June’s parents of his plan because they saw it coming, than it was to tell his mother and siblings. Before he went back to the US, he arranged for June to have a scholarship in St. Scholastica’s College, with the help of Sr. Mary Placid Abejo where she was taking up music major in violin performance.
And so June is now June Ong-Roa, and the adoptive father and daughter had their first concert together with June carrying the name June Ong-Roa on her 19th birthday last June 16.
The celebration was held at the Philamlife Auditorium, attended also by her biological parents, Philip and Armida Ong. In her recital June, a soprano, played the violin and sang light classical songs with her adoptive father accompanying her on the piano.
Also featured in this recital was fellow Scholastican Nick Bautista, a baritone, who is Rey’s newest scholar.
The much applauded concert is merely the beginning of what Rey hopes will be collaborative concerts with his adoptive daughter.
He will take June to the US after she finishes her studies in St. Scholastica, there to take up masters and doctoral studies in music. This father and daughter duo will surely be a team to watch in the world of music there in the US as well as here, the place of their birth.