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Ryan Cayabyab’s Musical Mission

Ryan Cayabyab

Always expect something different and superior quality from musician Ryan Cayabyab, also known in the biz as Mr. C.

After all, he is a National Artist for Music.

He not only composes and performs music for the sake of composing and performing it.

He lives it and lives up to it.

Take the case of his vision to create a genuine Filipino music which would not only attract and entice the local listeners but the global market as well. “Marami tayong napapasikat na kanta pero limitado lang sa (We are able to popularize songs but they are only limited to the) local market. We can create music which will also be appreciated abroad),” said Ryan.

It doesn’t mean that the Filipino music has to be indigenous but it would greatly help and influence a creation of a distinct sound.

One way of indigenization is a mix of the built-in and the mass appeal especially to the general audience.

“That is why we have to develop regional music. This can help identify the art that we want to facilitate,” exclaimed Cayabyab who has been into music since way back when.

Candon City Children's Choir

The very first Candon Music Festival to be held from May 23 to 25, 2019 at the Bagani Campo Concert Ground of the Candon City, Ilocos Sur is one source of indigenizing music however the eclectic composition of the participants is.

Maestro Ryan is the Festival Director of the event.

“We want to encourage regional music all throughout the country,” he quipped.

This very essence made him a National Artist to cohere the Filipino musical spirit. Consider the parameters the Order advocates: “The Order of National Artists Award is one of the honors conferred by the Republic of the Philippines that embodies the nations highest ideals in the humanities and aesthetic expression through the distinct achievements of individual citizens. While the Republic bestows due recognition to these singular achievements, it also honors its own cultural heritage, whose enrichment these achievements have significantly effected, enhanced, and given direction.

“These achievements are measured in terms of their vision, unusual insight, creativity and imagination, technical proficiency of the highest order in expressing Filipino culture and traditions, history, way of life, and aspirations.”

Cayabyab has displayed an extraordinary musical genius that has contributed to the development of a unique Filipino musical tradition and inventiveness and its appreciation in the songs “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika,” “Magandang Gabi sa Inyong Lahat,” “Paraisong Parisukat,” “Kumukuti-kutitap” and many, many more.

There are also his rare modern and near classical compositions like “Lulay,” “Hibang sa Awit,” “Iduyan Mo,” “Kailan” “Ang Pipit” and a lot more very unpopular but should be admired by popular crowd (read: masses) because they are expressions of the Filipino experiences and sensibilities. On the outset, the Maestro might speak of love and romance in his art but they mostly rise above sentimentality and lachrymose.

Ryan has the highest ideals in the arts and the humanities incorporated in his musical creations of the quotidian thereby footnoting his individual achievements in the field or arts.

He not only expresses the mundane and the personal matters of romance and pettiness of daily life but also embodies the cultural heritage of the whole nation in such songs as “Tsismis,” “Mamang Kutsero,” “Iniibig Kita” etc. He also has adapted and lent deeper and multidimensional meanings and impressions on folk songs as “Bakya Mo Neneng,” “Telebong,” “Leron, Leron Sinta,” “Sitsiritsit, Alibangbang,” “Itik Itik,” “Penpen de Sarapen” among others. They are as fresh as new, original ditties.

Cayabyab has also made sacred tunes and spiritual attitudes in such titles as “Aba Po, Santa Mariang Hari,” “Anima Christi,” “Aquesta Me Guiaba” and the likes. Imagine the levels of consciousness he has sphered up in varied persuasions.

Novelty music, nonetheless, is also his forte like his penning and fusing melody on such satire and sketchy as the “Last Trip to Boracay,” “Da Coconut Nut” etc but they aren’t gross and inane instead substantial and relevant without necessarily being didactic and preachy.

In musical theater productions, Maestro Ryan has prolific contributions that imprinted on the timeless significance of his behind the scenes performances in such musicals sa “Katy,” “Kenkoy at Rosing,” “Ang Larawan” and many more. They are now part of cultural history of the Filipino people and the world.

Endless musical prowess in any medium and yet the humility in Ryan is explicit.

“I didn’t expect that I would be proclaimed National Artist,” he beamed.

More than his predecessors, Cayabyab has the proficiency and fertility of the mind, the heart and the spirit.

They are clearly coming from social realities.

Ryan might not be an arts activist shouting emancipation from oppressive aesthetics system but he liberates the soul of the ordinary man in his own unique ways.

In accepting the directorship of the Candon Music Festival, he seemed confident that something beneficial to the local music industry is in the offing—not necessarily one or two years from now but a long shot perspective of better things to come for the art.

Apparently, he toes the line of the organizers yet without being intrusive and know-it-all but a humble servant to the objectives of the gig.

When he talked about a young man who approached him to direct the event, Ryan was adjusting to the vision of the young mind. He gave it a chance and chose to work with him and the rest of the production staff.

He has no illusion of grandeur at the moment but he sees a venue for practical solutions and discoveries of latent musical potentials of homegrown talents.

In the next festival, Cayabyab will definitely conduct music education among Candon youth or anyone musically inclined to pursue a higher goal of service to the nation. “Ang wala tayo, ‘yong (What we lack is a) distinct Filipino music that sells internationally. We continue to import music. But we can export music later,” said the National Artist which was short of saying the economics of music is achievable as well.

During the time that Ryan was meeting the entertainment press, he disclosed that the mother of the brains of the Candon Music fest Eric Singson is a graduate of the University of the Philippines’ College of Music. He was obviously amazed and impressed by the familial achievements of the Singson.

“His mom was the composer of the Candon hymn,” he shared with pride.

Ryan said he will look into it and make it more accessible and relatable to the residents of the town and eventually to the citizens of the land.

Noel Cabangon

While Cayabyab wasn’t the one who solely fielded the participants to the music fest, he saw to it that there was balance in the contingent so there was a mix and a tension between the pop and the classics, between the vocals and the instrumentalists, between the individual singers and the bands to be performed by Rivermaya, Imago, Spongecola, Moonstar88, 6cyclemind, Gloc-9, the Ryan Cayabyab Singers, tenor Ronan Ferrer, nationalist artist Noel Cabangon, Cardona Youth Symphonic Band, Candon City Children’s Choir, sopranos Regina Garabiles and Jedessa Calacday, pianist Melissa Nartalez, viola player Joy Allan de la Cruz and a host of other artists, national and regional.

Cayabyab’s hands may be full and his shoulders carry numerous chips but his idealism in weaving true and meaningful Filipino music is a responsibility he is indeed confident to achieve.

Let’s support the vision of Maestro Ryan.

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