Cayabyab seeks benefactors to champion OPM in global stage

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 12 2019 05:56 PM

MANILA -- National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab credits benefactors for many of his achievements in the industry. 

When he was in college, he said a “turning point” in his life was when then-senator Salvador "Doy" Laurel offered him a scholarship to pursue a degree in music after serving as his son Cocoy Laurel's musical director, arranger and pianist.

And 10 years ago, Cayabyab was able to stage an annual songwriting camp through a businessman who wanted to give back to his community.

While musicians come up with ideas, Cayabyab said they need benefactors to promote it, as was the case during the time of great classical composers like Ludwig van Beethoven.

On Wednesday, two days after he received the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, Cayabyab gave a lecture on “Betting on the Filipino Musical Talent.”

“We are looking forward to a new project. I’m sounding out to the universe that we need more benefactors and more sponsors to push this advocacy,” he told the audience at the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation building in Manila. “We are looking forward to a new project which will now focus solely on harnessing the Filipino talent for the global music industry.”

Cayabyab said they hope to not only train young musicians but also help them have a “different mindset to accept the challenges of global music creation.”

During the lecture, Cayabyab showed clips of the artists he has trained, some of them winning competitions abroad. He also showed videos of acapella groups, which he believes will be the future of Filipino music.

"I feel sad because there is no Filipino music out there. Perhaps the only song known worldwide is 'Anak' by Freddie Aguilar. There must be more (original music)," he said, noting that while Filipinos are known worldwide as performers, they mostly sing Western songs abroad.


Cayabyab was joined at the lecture by musicians Noel Cabangon and Rom Dongeto, both members of the activist folk-rock band Buklod.

All three agreed that Filipinos already have the talent but are struggling when it comes to promotion because of the changing music landscape.

“We should be teaming up with people who know promotion and marketing and business,” Cayabyab said. “Content is nothing unless it goes to the public.”

“I think we have the content. The one that’s lacking is the delivery to the people. A lot of people won’t notice it if they are not bombarded with it,” he said. “It’s not being promoted very well. The more we flood the industry with a lot of songs the more choices we will have.”

Cabangon, who wants Filipino music to find global popularity, said the local music industry needs to find the right platform. 

“To be heard we need platforms, especially now everything is digital. But in the digital world everything is competing. We’re all competing. What we need is how to encourage the Filipino public to support our own,” he said.

Cabangon pointed out that the Philippines has an executive order requiring radio stations to play original Pinoy music but this is not being implemented.

“Requiring radio stations to broadcast a minimum of four original songs every hour is inconsistent or wala talaga masyadong sumusunod (or no one really follows it),” he lamented.

“In neighboring Indonesia, almost all of the music you hear on the radio are their own. We need to correct the imbalance here,” he urged.

For his part, Dongeto said there is also a need for “more places not driven by commercial interest.”

“Nung kami 'pag mag-set kami may bayad kahit papano. Ngayon wala ka nang bayad ikaw pa mamomroblema sa ticket sa gate,” he explained. “Hindi makakabuhay kahit ng isang anak ang pagtugtog.”

(During our time, we were paid when we played at venues. Now they don’t pay you and you’re the one who would need to bring in people. You can’t feed your child by being a musician.)

Dongeto said that in addition to legislation, there is also a need for public funding, noting that there is a lot of money in government but not enough is being allocated for culture and the arts.

The panel also discussed the reduced time for the arts in schools after a teacher asked about training for music teachers. 

“Can you imagine MAPEH (Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health) lumped into one subject? Now we understand our public school student have little appreciation for music,” Cayabyab said. “The public schools they need art and culture. Art and culture will bring them a better perspective on life and work, work ethic.”

“How can we teach the arts if we do not have enough time?” Cabangon said. “Maybe we should talk to the government again.”

Cabangon later told ABS-CBN News that their group, the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc. (FILSCAP), is working on a proposal to create through legislation a Music Development Council of the Philippines. They are hoping to include in the bill guidelines to help promote Filipino music.