I am a teacher based in the Philippines. But this is not my story. This is my tribute to a Bangkok-based Pinoy musician who selflessly shared his exceptional talent to our school, our community and to whole DepEd, Philippines.
Mr. Antonio SJ Espineli is a singer, lead guitarist, composer and lyricist. He is currently based in Bangkok, Thailand but he generously shared his gift of music to us even if we’re million miles apart.
During the 10th founding anniversary of Teodoro Evangelista Memorial High School in Baliwag, Bulacan , another milestone was reached as we unveiled not only the bust of Teodoro Evangelista but we launched for the first time, our TEMHS Hymn.
Thanks to the generosity and the efforts of the Bangkok-based Pinoy musician Mr. Antonio S.J Espineli, the composer.
Life in the Philippines
Mr. Antonio SJ Espineli was born in Pasay City, Philippines. He was the sixth child of Juan Espineli of Cavite and Encarnacion San Jose of Pasay. He was the nephew of Gerry Brandy, aka German San Jose, a Filipino composer and a musical artist. (Unknown to many, one of Gerry Brandy’s master pieces were the songs- “Tayo na sa Antipolo” and “ Penoy Balot”).
As a kid, Sir Tony’s first musical instrument was a Ukulele that was given by Gerry Brandy to his Kuya Pering. He was a child prodigy that exceptionally played guitar and composed songs at the age of 9.
He always sing at school programs in Pasay City High School. Then, he took up Bachelor of Science in Accountancy at University of the East. But his passion for music paved him to pursue his career in music after graduation.
Passion in Music
His journey overseas began when he worked as a Band singer called Mighty Pioneer in Hongkong in 1963. After two years, he landed a new singing career with his band mates in Thailand in 1965. Since then, Thailand had become his home. He worked as a singer/lead guitarist to many clubs in Thailand. Their band was featured in many magazines.
Heartfelt music and amazing singing voice – that was Mr.Tony Espineli. He worked as a singer in a three-man Band in AI Club in Thaniya Road, Bangkok. He sang in AI Club for 37 years until Covid- 19 pandemic hit the entertainment industry and his singing career early last year.
Sir Tony has composed numerous songs and sonatas all throughout his career. Some of his original compositions were- “For You Alone”, “Masterpiece”, “Tara Queen”, “Valerie”, “Hi-So” and many more. His daughter Regina uploaded some of his songs at You tube. (Max & Molly at Regina’s Kitchen).
You will definitely be carried away by his voice when you hear his rendition of the songs like- “Whiter Shade of Pale”, “All the Things You Are”, “Moon River” and many more.
According to Tony, “ If you love your job, you will never work a single day”. Thus, Mr.Tony Espineli looks 20 years younger than his age.
The Legacy of a Bangkok-based Pinoy Musician
It was a hot Friday afternoon, June 25,2021 when our Head Teacher told me she wanted to have a hymn for our school for its 10th founding anniversary. I asked Mr. Espineli if he could help us by composing the music of our hymn. He was very accommodating and kind to say yes right away. Before the day ends, he already finished the music. It took only a few hours!
The TEMHS Hymn was first heard by the public during the 10th Founding Anniversary of Teodoro Evangelista Memorial High School on July 12,2021. It was historic in itself because after 10 years, our beloved Alma Mater has finally heard her song. Thanks to the man who unselfishly shared his gift without asking for anything in return.
Even with such tremendous talent, Mr. Antonio SJ Espineli never brags about it. My admiration of him tripled when I read this post on his facebook account on July 16,2021:
“A dear friend requested me to write a song for their school hymn . I worked under time constraint and out of my comfort zone cuz I usually write romantic ballads .This time I tried my hand on “march” tempo which was quite a challenge . I’m honored to be part of its legacy (Teodoro Evangelista Memorial High School in Bulacan).”
A school hymn is not just an ordinary song. It is the official “anthem” of an educational institution. It is therefore important for a school to have an alma mater hymn; It gives a sense of belonging, comradeship, pride and loyalty to the school. It identifies the school and its students.
Indeed, the whole community of Teodoro Evangelista Memorial High School is blessed to have this humble and soft-spoken Bangkok-based Pinoy musician, Mr. Antonio SJ Espineli. We will be forever grateful to his contribution. And as we hear the hymn in the four corners of our institution, his name will also linger in our hearts.
It is a great honor to be part of your legacy Maestro Espineli.
Mabuhay at maraming salamat!
Rosalie B. Domingo-Del Rosario is a Teacher III at Teodoro Evangelista Memorial High School. She teaches MAPEH ,Music Arts Physical Education and Health.