Roots are the ties that bind us to our homelands. Whether they are family, culture or even music – they are those memories, relics and moments that take us home no matter where we are. For us Apia, Risaralda is a special place because of our founders roots to this small pueblo in the mountains of Colombia.
Our Pueblo Roots
Our founder Ruben Dario Salazar, born and raised in Apia, Risaralda, has lived in the US for over 50 years. His life is in Florida, but his roots will always be in the old country that gave him his first opportunities in life.
His mother Margarita Naranjo and father Jorge, had 2 boys and two girls (Ruben was the oldest). His father was killed when he was 4 years old during the start of the violence which is the Colombian Civil War. She came back home to Apia with 4 kids as a widow.
His aunt Josefina Naranjo, married Elias Lopez (cousins) and had 10 kids. Five passed away at very young age and her husband passed away in Pereira. Of course she also came back home with 5 kids, one of them Carlos Fernando Lopez Naranjo the musician, and Francisco the poet-writer.
They grew up in harmony as brothers and sisters in an antique house which is still standing today and part of the pueblo tour. They all finished high School in Apia and then destiny gave Ruben the opportunity to go to the US.
History of COMARCA – Arte y Cultura de Apia
The name of that music maestro (or master) who made such an impact on this small town, is Rubo Marin Pulgarin. He was the driving force which helped Apia to found its own music program. Over time he helped support many existing music groups of which some have been in existence in one form or another since 1914. One of his most promising students is Carlos Fernando Lopez Naranjo, took over for him when he retired in 1996.
When Carlos Fernando became the new music master, he created COMARCA, a music corporation dedicated to fostering and preserving music culture in Apia, Risaralda. It wasn’t until 2006 that COMARCA became established enough to become a major driving force in the region. They expanded their reach and influence to other nearby communities, many of which were founded by the children of Apia only a couple generations ago.
This influence has helped to found more than 14+ different music programs/schools in other pueblos. They are driving role in the “Plan Departmental de Music de Risaralda,” a pilot program through the ministry of culture which continues to foster musical development of more than 7,000 beneficiaries including Apia.
This music corporation has four principal roles which it serves:
- Formation of students. From early childhood to senior citizen groups, Comarca helps local youth discover the beauty of music through lessons and group projects.
- Disadvantaged Populations. For campesino children who live far from the pueblo, or locals who cannot afford to study, they have special programs to give these members an extra advantage in life.
- Senior Citizen/Recreational Programs. Did you know that music has been shown to help fight dementia and alzheimers in elderly populations? COMARCA brings special music recreation programs to these populations.
- Consultation/Instrument Services. To help create extra funding for the many programs that they run, COMARCA offers instrument repair, service and sales along with special consulting services for other music schools.
Colombia has this special culture which revolves around these “Associations,” where citizens get together to support economic or social initiatives. In the case of a coffee association, it is a pool of resources where coffee farmers can get fair prices and services for their coffee after harvest.
In the case of a music association, citizens send monthly contributions to Apia to help support the music programs as a “loan.” However, the earnings from that “loan” are invested in social work projects which the board of directors meets, talks about and then chooses to support.
How can you help?
These are ambitious programs. But they are worth our support. The appreciation of music is a gift that is ours to foster in the youth of the next generation. Even more importantly, is the conservation of in incredible musical reperatoire and culture which is unique to Apia.
At this time, COMARCA is seeking to raise 12,000,000 COP/~$4,000 USD. They have a very detailed and specific plan related to how the money will be spent. The solar, or back patio/yard space will be used to create a bigger space for practice rooms plus an awning which will give them a space to provide presentations and concerts. They also plan to divide the extremely high ceilings of building into two floors where they will be able to expand and improve the programs they can offer.
When you buy coffee from Specialty Colombian Coffees, a portion of the proceeds are donated to help support the programs of COMARCA and their initiatives. Remember this is a non-government entity and therefore completely ineligible for any government funding. They have an excellent track record which has been kept free of corruption and issues related to misspent funds. For a cause that we believe strongly in, COMARCA is our philanthropy.
To donate virtually, click here: change.org/p/carlos-fernando-lopez-naranjo-comarca-apia-con-500-beneficiarios-directos-de-la-población-infantil-necesita-su-ayuda/