Olde St. Augustine’s Choir

Kim Barroso  |   Present Director

Rene Ortega | Past Director

Serving and entertaining the community is Reynaldo Ortega’s passion in life. Born in San Pablo city from musically gifted family, his mother taught music at Laguna College and father who was a librarian.  Rene took piano lessons though playing by ear is his best asset with absolute pitch.

As graduate of Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at University of Santo Tomas, he has worked as chemist, chemical researcher at University of Pennsylvania, medical technologist and as an environmental laboratory manager at US Army before retirement.

Rene’s involvement in Filipino-American community started right after his arrival in Philadelphia.  As a dancer of the Filipino Groups of Pennsylvania in 1973. With a group of friends, he was involved in the formation of KSOP and has been performing to its many social affairs. He got involved with St John  Neumann Filipino choir of FAAPI as a singer and folk dancer as well as FASSJ, PCSNJ choirs.

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In 1991, when asked to join a singing group by Purie Mercado and Resty Estacio who initiated the Santo Nino novena at St Augustine church, he accepted the task as organist. When the conductor/founder left, he faces the challenge of taking over the role as choir director. It was a Herculean task and at times frustrating to find committed members with knowledge of music.  Through perseverance and patience, Olde St Augustine Filipino Choir was born with volunteers who committed to practice time in spite of their own personal needs and made them learn to read simple musical notes. The choir overcame many difficulties and started singing at all Sunday masses which has taken a toll to all, help was requested for the FIAT music ministry and Manny De vera to take over the two Sundays. Performances were extended not only to social organizations but to entertain the sick and elderly, to uplift the grieving during wakes and funerals, weddings, bring Filipino Christmas spirit through traditional caroling.

His commitment to help the young be integrated to Christ’s values of faith, hope and love and to still pride in their heritage, he formed the children choir and involved the Mutya dancers  in many of the choir performances like Winter/Summer “Sinulogs”, Christmas eve “Panuluyan”, Easter Cantata “Senakulo” and Easter Sunday “Salubong”.

Through his leadership as choir director, Easter Cantata and Christmas caroling raised over $50,000 that benefited the church, Filipino priests, purchased robes, costumes, sound system, musical instruments, books and supplies.

He was the keyboard player of several musical bands and organist at the Almighty Name of Jesus prayer group weekly Friday meeting and First Sunday mass. He sings and plays guitar during Good Friday “Pabasa”. Showing his comedic talent, he brought down the audience to laughter as Teban at stage play “Comedy in the Cockpit” by the Philippine American Dramatic Guild, dances as Hawaiian lass and as a nun.  He is the favorite piano player during sing-a-along parties and can play the vanishing Filipino old time favorite “Kundiman”. He also graces many performances with his daughter Myra Karla who was a cantor at age thirteen. He currently plays the banduria with Philippine Folk Arts Society. Working part-time entertaining the sick and the elderly at a nursing home was a fulfilling job he enjoys.

Married to Josie Ortega for 36 years and blessed with musically gifted daughter Myra Karla and grandson Lukas Osiris.

His favorite bible verse “Each one, as good manager of God’s gift, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God” Mathew 25; 14-30



One thought on “Olde St. Augustine’s Choir

  1. Pingback: This Week: From the President | FECGP

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