First Woman to Establish a Music and Arts School on Guam

Carmen Romualdez Dela CruzCarmen “Meling” Romualdez Dela Cruz (1910-1995), a life long musician, is the first woman to open a school for the arts on Guam. She is the daughter of Beatriz Buz  and former Philippine Supreme Court Justice Norberto Romualdez. In 1932 she married Francisco “Paco” Dela Cruz from Guam. They moved the family to Guam in 1948 and opened the Guam Academy of Music and Arts. She and Paco had six children; Lourdes, Rosalina, Norberto, Francisco, Victor, and Maria Teresita.

Dela Cruz graduated from high school at St. Paul’s College in Manila in 1929. She studied at the University of the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas and the Conservatory of Music, obtaining degrees in the Arts, Pre-Law, Teaching and Music. She was awarded an honorary degree in community service in 1968 by the University of Guam.

Beginning her career as a private music teacher in Manila, Dela Cruz was the director and a teacher at Guam Academy of Music and Arts from 1948 until 1995. Dela Cruz hired many local qualified teachers to teach various instruments to Guam students as well as bringing teachers from the Philippines to Guam. She arranged for many benefit concerts for various organizations. She was also the director and organist at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Choir in the 1960s and 1970s.

Dela Cruz was a founding member and president of the Guam Fine Arts Society (now Guam Symphony Society), the organizer, organist, director and president of Guam Symphony Orchestra and Choral Group, the founding member and president of the Filipino Community Guam, the Filipino Ladies Association of Guam, among many other community organizations. Dela Cruz passed away in 1995.

Editor’s Note: This biography was originally written in 2014 for a series on the first women of Guam, women who did things first in their fields, as commissioned by the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce.