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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Leading Filipino Women: Maria Carpena

Maria Carpena
The Singer
(1887 - 1915)

Maria Carpena was one of our early good singers. Her sweet voice brought happiness to many people. Read the story of how she overcame many difficulties to become a great singer.

Maria’s Childhood

Maria Carpena was born on the farm of her father, Camilo, in Santa Rosa, Laguna on January 13, 1887. Her mother, Maria Evangelista, was a very industrious woman. She took good care of her eleven children.

But Maria did not have a very happy childhood. Her father was very strict. He did not like Maria to sing, especially before other people. He wanted Maria to get a good education and stay at home.

After little Maria learned her caton, or alphabet, she entered the Santa Rosa College. She paid for her education by working for the Sisters. The Sisters were fond of her as she was industrious and could sing well. She learned to speak Spanish after six months.

Maria wanted to improve her voice. The parish priest of Laguna, who had often heard her sing, gave her singing lessons. Then he asked Maria’s father to let her sing in the church during the mass.

The people who went to church soon grew to love and admire her singing. Many visitors came from neighboring towns to hear her sing. Seeing her growing fame as a singer, her father permitted her to take higher singing lessons. Maria then studied under an Italian music teach named Capucci.

Maria Sings for the Public

During a visit to Malabon, once a territorial town in Rizal province, Maria attracted the attention of Don Severino Reyes, who was then director of a dramatic company. This company gave zarzuelas, or musical plays. Don Severino offered Maria a part in a zarzuela, which she gladly accepted.

Maria was soon singing in such plays as Walang Sugat (No Wound) and Minda Mora in the famous Zorilla Theater in Manila. People crowded to the theater to hear her sing. They also went on Sundays to the Luneta to hear her sing in the public concert given by the Philippine Constabulary Band.

Although busy in her career as a singer, Maria did not neglect her family life. She married Jose Alcantara and had four children to whom she was a good mother.

For many years, Maria continued to sing for the public. But at last her health broke down. On March 14, 1915, after several days of illness at the San Juan de Dios hospital, she died.

She died poor, but she left many beautiful memories behind her.One of her friends said this of her: “Maria Carpena is gone, but her works remain. Her beauty, her sweet nature, and her wonderful voice made her a famous artist. She became great although she met many difficulties.”

Maria Carpena deserves her place among famous Filipino women.


  1. Hi! Thank you very much for your write-up regarding my great great grand mother. Her photo is really very pretty. May I know where you got the photo? I would like to meet you one day and be our guest for the future activities regarding Maria Carpena. Again, Thank you! - Irma Yu (

    1. I'm interested to know more about her. I'm from Sta. Rosa! :-)

  2. we wish to thank you for featuring maria carpena on your blog. i hope we can spend time exchanging data on her biography. we have put up an organization in her behalf in the city of sta.rosa laguna called the "Sentrong Pang Sining at Kultura Alaala kay Maria Carpena, Inc.". We shall be happy to have you in the group if you may wish to. Dr. Bimbo Sta.Maria, President, Sentro. (


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