November 17, 2016
Jose Sabas Libornio Ibarra was a Filipino composer behind Peru’s “Marcha de Banderas” — considered as the second civic anthem of Peru. However, little is known of its author despite his invaluable contributions to Peru.
Born in Sta. Ana, Manila, Libornio was a clarinet player who had ambitions to play for the Manila Symphony Orchestra — Asia’s first symphony orchestra. However, unable to get the part, he left his wife, Doña Gregoria del Rosario, and children to join the Charini Circus musician. The band then traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii where he met his second wife, Maria Estrada. The couple then moved to Lima, Peru.
While in Lima, Libornio was appointed “Director General de las Bandas de Musicos del Ejercito” by Peruvian President Nicolás de Piérola. As teacher and director of the Band of Musicians of the Army, Libornio was in charge of the musical part of the Te Deum in honor of the Patron of Arms of the Republic, our Virgin of the Mercedes, in the Basilica of La Merced. According to the official version, when President Piérola approached Libornio to congratulate him, he suggested a march to greet the flag and for all official acts that are derived from civic events.
At the campaign mass for the day of the victory of the Battle of Ayacucho, the arrival of President Piérola was accompanied by a different march instead of the national anthem. A resolution was then enacted recognizing the Peruvian National March to be executed to announce the arrival of the Chief Executive. It was later on called “March of the Flags.” Unfortunately for Libornio, while the march reached a monumental success, his name would remain in anonymity for a long time.
Years later, his grandchildren from his wife Doña Gregoria would search for Jose Libornio in Peru, but it would take another generation of the Libornios in the Philippines to locate their distant relatives. Chito Libornio Mercader, son of Elvira Arcanghel Libornio Mercader, who was a daughter to Libornio’s son Francisco, would find the blood link thanks to social media. Both families are now reunited online and are determined to fill the gaps of information about their great grandfather and to enshrine the name, Jose Sabas Libornio Ibarra, alongside his legacy “La Marcha de Bandera” in Peru.
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