Philippine National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab (fourth from left) and his wife, Emmy (fifth from left), with members of the Christian Voices Chorale. John Varughese/Gulf Today
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Philippine National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab believes the potential of the Filipino as a musician and performance artist is yet to be “exploited” even as a people, they have been in-demand globally in the field of theatre arts and live act circuit because of their inborn talent.
“Mr C” or Maestro Cayabyab expressed his views with the media and in context of what he termed as “music and performance arts literacy” on Thursday evening. The Philippine Consulate General in Dubai hosted a special reception for him and his wife, Emmie Punzalan, on Thursday.
The couple has been responsible for mentoring and training outstanding musicians and performance artists like composer-singer Moira dela Torre since 1986.
On Saturday evening, alongside the 400-plus volunteers for the 121st commemoration of Philippine Independence Day celebrations in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, he was given special tribute by the community through a “by-invitation” concert jointly sponsored by the UAE’s Emirates NBD and the Philippines’s BDO Unibank at the Emirates Institute of Banking & Financial Studies in Dubai Academic City.
The night was steep with Cayabyab’s music library since 1971, courtesy of Dubai’s Christian Voices Chorale, a multi-racial and multi-professional string ensemble, and Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes.
At the Thursday reception, Cayabyab mentioned the increasing “wealth of a new breed of Filipino songwriters and performing artists in the Philippines” but this has taken a long while to happen.
Cayabyab is the second to be conferred the respectable Philippine National Artist for Music, the first being the late Jose Maceda (1917-2004), which according to the Sharjah Arts Foundation was a France and US-educated “composer, pianist and ethnomusicologist who dedicated his life to the understanding and popularity of Filipino traditional music.”
The 65-year-old is a son of the late opera singer Celerina Venson Pujante whose dying wish was that none of her six children would follow in her footsteps since life in the music and performance arts proved economically challenging.
On Oct.24, 2018, President Duterte bestowed on the son the prestigious Philippine National Artist for Music recognition. The National Commission for the Culture and Arts and the Cultural Centre of the Philippines recommended Cayabyab for “his works ranging from commissioned theatre musicals, choral pieces and orchestral pieces to commercial recordings of popular music.”
The maestro was among the pillars of a movement in the Philippine entertainment/music industry heavily responsible for re-inventing the Filipino artist-musician and his works with what has been known as the Original Pilipino Music.
That is a movement away from the deeply-ingrained colonial mentality that everything from the US and the West is far more superior than the Philippines and the Filipino—to the point that for decades, Filipinos were aping the likes of any Hollywood star.
Pursued by Gulf Today, the University of the Philippines’s Bachelor of Music degree holder stated they are only a minuscule part of that movement.
Cayabyab expressed hope he would not be misunderstood for his opinion that while Filipinos have the ear and the jive for any kind of music, there is yet a dearth when it comes to having them literate in music and the performance arts.
He defined music literacy as the ability and the capability to read and write music which is applicable to what performance arts literacy is.
It is all about being the “creative media industry” whereby one has the knowledge and skill to “explain to the world what a song and music is all about,” tantamount to a more vivid and more creative way of putting across a message through music and the performance arts.
“We believe (for a) movement that wants to convince Filipinos about the rudiments and tools in the field of music and the performing arts,” Cayabyab said.
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