Olivia Rocha Aliga
Recipient: Gintong Pamana’s Anahaw Award in Music
The Musical World of Olivia Rocha Aliga
By Nelia Dingcong Bernabe
“Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.” – Author Unknown
Olivia Reyes Rocha Aliga’s home must be filled with music all the time. Imagine for a moment the lady of the house conducting private piano and voice lessons in her music studio, being the music director of the Lombard Chorale and Winfield Community United Methodist Church in Illinois, director of the Illinois State Music Teachers Association and the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Greater Chicago (UPAAGC) and the founder and first president of the University of the Philippines Vanguard Corps of Sponsors Alumni of America.
All that and more, music definitely wafts from all corners of her home and her life. Music is in the heart and soul of this awardee. This musical wonder is married to Norman A. Aliga, M.D. in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and is the proud mother of three children, Norman Vincent who has a B.S. in Kinesiology, an M. Ed. and married to Nancy Garcia, Ferdinand Alphonse who has a B.S. Film and Media Studies degree, a Certificate in International Business and an actor, and Chester who is a senior at the University of Iowa, majoring in Music Education and seemingly following in his mother’s career path. Olivia is also the proud grandmother to her oldest son’s children, Alexis and Norman III (Luke), Vivian Thelma and Valerie Maricruz.
This virtuoso received the United Methodist Women Service Award in 2008, the United Methodist Women Heifer International Honor Award three times, in 2008, 2000 and 1995, the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of America Professional Award in Music in 2007, the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA) Service Award in 2006, the UPAA Outstanding Chapter while president of the U.P. Club of America in 2005 and recognized as Who’s Who in America in 2002.
The list of awards for this music tycoon includes the Chicago Filipino American Hall of Fame Award in Music in 1999, a Certificate of Appreciation for Unselfish and Meritorious Service to the UERMMMMC choir from the University of the East Medical Alumni Association of the Midwest in 1995 and a Certificate for Exemplary Christian Service in The World from the Winfield Community of the United Methodist Church in 1994.
Olivia has served as a judge in various musical competitions such as piano, voice and chorus in California, Wisconsin, Illinois as well as the Philippines. She was also a music teacher for New Life Christian School in Middleton, Wisconsin for three years and a faculty member of Vallejo Conservatory of Music in Vallejo, California for a year.
While still in the Philippines, she was a faculty member of the St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary in Quezon City, Philippines for four years, a high school music teacher of the Trinity College of Music in Quezon City for 10 years, adviser and music director of Trinity College’s high school and college glee clubs for eight years and a Spanish instructor at the same time for the same college for six years. She was also a faculty member of the Philippine Women’s University (PWU) for 10 years.
Her past positions have brought her to two continents; these include being the president of UPAAGC in 2005 and 2003. While president of the U.P. Club of America (now UPAAGC), she was also a trustee of the Winfield Community United Methodist Church, member of the Citizen Advisory Council of the Glenbard School District and P.R.O. of La Comunidad Zamboanguena. She was also the president of the University of the Philippines College of Music’s student council, member of the U.P. concert chorus and the U.P. ROTC Corps of Sponsors for a year and a Beta Sigma fraternity sweetheart.
She is the daughter of Attn. Fernando B. Rocha and Dr. Thelma Reyes Rocha and sister to Rowena R. Padernal, a retired PAL stewardess and purser, Miguel R. Rocha (deceased) who was a journalist and former director of the Department of National Press Corps and Agnes R. Germo, head social worker in the Municipality of New Lucena, Iloilo, Philippines who also received the honor as outstanding social worker of the Philippines.
This multi-awarded and talented lady received her Bachelor of Music, major in Music Education from the University of the Philippines and her M.A. in Music Education from Canyon College, graduating cum laude.
She is a member of different organizations such as the Illinois State Music Teachers Association, UPAAGC, La Comunidad Zamboanguena, Bacarra USA National, Cagayanons International (of Cagayan de Oro City and the province of Misamis Oriental in the Philippines).
Her creative work includes composing the hymn for PAMANA (Philippine Association of Madison and Neighboring Areas in Wisconsin) and served as conductor for various groups in California, Wisconsin and Illinois as well as in the Philippines that included the FAPO Chorale of Vallejo (in California) and the PAMANA choir.
She was also the choral director of the Fil-Am Seniors of DuPage in Illinois, the music director and vocal coach of the U.E. Medical Alumni Association of the Midwest Chorale for five years and the pianist at various fellowship and fundraising concerts including the UP Club (1991 and 1997), the Marklund Foundation (1995), the Association of Filipino-American Women of Wisconsin (1985), the Winfield Community United Methodist Church and Arbor View Elementary School in Glen Ellyn, Il.
Recognizing that her music is a gift from God, she has dedicated her time and talent as the pro bono music director of the Winfield Community United Methodist Church since 1987. Her kindness and desire to help have resulted in a UPAAGC-sponsored fundraising that saw a donation of $11,500 to U.P. Diliman College of Music for the repair and upgrade of its facilities, instruments and library. In 2005, she also spearheaded a fund drive for a $10,000 donation to the U.P. Health Service.
Wherever she may be, Olivia Rocha Aliga is sure to keep the music going. Whether it’s here in Illinois or in the Philippines, her music and kindness knows no bounds.
This is my family. From left are: Chet, University of Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band Major for 2 years, graduating this Dec. with a degree in Music Performance and Education. Fonz, BS in Film and Media Studies, Certificate in International Business, University of Iowa . Olive Norm Jr., BS in Kinesiology, UIC, Masters in Ed, major in School Leadership, Concordia College . Norman, BS Pre-med UP, M.D., University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Medical Center , Orthopedic Residency UP- PGH ( was Chief Resident), Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine Residency, University of Wisconsin , Madison , Wi.( was Chief Resident )