On May 3, Filipino composer Ryan Cayabyab, or Mr. C to many, celebrated his birthday eve with a tribute concert at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The concert, led by conductor Gerard Salonga and the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, featured true OPM gems like Hajji Alejandro, Kuh Ledesma, Martin Nievera, Ogie Alcasid, Celeste Legaspi, Mitch Valdes, and the newer ones like Noel Cabangon, Bugoy and Morisette, Piolo Pascual.
I was a proud wife and aunt, happily watching with my mom and daughter. My husband was invited to sing with the Ateneo Chamber Singers, while my niece (daughter of my cousin), Leana Tabunar, sang a song from the musical Katy, where she acted as the young Katy last year. It was first time for her to sing with a full orchestra, that’s why the whole Macanaya clan is proud of her. Check out a video of her performance here:
As part of the orchestra’s Spotlight Series, they featured an all-Mr. C repertoire, which brought so much nostalgia to many OPM babies, like me. But not all Mr. C songs that I like are OPM, or Original Pilipino Music. I also liked his choral works, some we have sung with the Madz, and some with my children’s choir.
So, without further ado, here are my favorite Mr. C songs in random order. Full credit goes to the owners of these videos. Thanks for sharing and posting on Youtube, especially the older video clips:
1. A questa me guiaba/O noche que guiaste. The text of this piece is from the poems of St. John of the Cross. We sang this in the Florilege Vocal de Tours in France in 2006, the competition where we earned the spot for the European Grand Prix the following year. Listen to the sudden unisons and key changes, they are quite challenging to approach.
2. Aba Po, Santa Mariang Reyna. Another favorite of competing choral groups, I first heard this song when my husband (then suitor) sang this with the Ateneo College Glee Club back in 2000. I immediately fell in love with the dissonances of the female in the beginning. I remember the story of this song. Madz founder Prof. Andrea Veneracion, or Ma’am OA, asked Mr. C to write a new work for the Madz, and this was it.
UPDATE: This is a most recent version of the Ateneo Chamber Singers. Have always loved their rendition of this.
3. Kailan (Smokey Mountain). I was a young seven years old then, and we were in a trade fair at then PhilCite at the CCP Complex (don’t compute my age!). I was a super fan of Smokey Mountain (yes, Geneva Cruz, James Coronel, Tony Lambino, Jeffery Hidalgo, I was a fan!!!) and of their songs. My dad entered me in a mini-talent showcase in one of the trade fair’s events, with the late great Pepe Pimentel as host. I told him I will sing the song Kailan (When, in English), but he teases me as to when I will sing! I got to take home gift packs after I finally sang…after all the teasing!
4. Paraiso (Smokey Mountain). Another Smokey Mountain song I like is Paraiso. I loved it more when I sang it with the Madz. Here’s our New York performance in 2007:
5. Gloria (from Misa). My husband was the soloist for this song during their 2000 Ateneo College Glee Club tour for one of their competitions. I was able to watch it during their farewell concert, and he definitely gave a great performance! (Now, if only there was a video of it!). But here’s an audio recording from their 2000 tour.
6. Hibang sa Awit. Umiikot, sumisirko. (Twirling, tumbling.) This is definitely a “Tatak Korus” song. Korus is the University of the Philippines Concert Chorus, who adds challenging choreography in their singing. Here is their performance during the group’s 50th Anniversary and reunion concert in 2012. Check out the inset, same choreo and energy through the years!
7. Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika. An award-winning song synonymous to a singer named Hajji Alejandro. This won the 1st Metro Manila Popular Music Festival (Metropop) in 1978, and as this song opened last Saturday’s concert, it still proves timeless, beautiful, and classic.
8. Can this be love (Smokey Mountain). This was sung again by Sarah Geronimo as theme song for the Sandara Park-Hero Angeles movie of the same title.
9. Kumukutikutitap. Famous director Joey Reyes wrote the lyrics of this Christmas favorite. Check out a video of my choir’s performance during the Christkindlmarket in 2012 (the beginning of the song was not taken, though, and this video included other repertoire). To whoever uploaded this on Youtube, many thanks! (PS: Spot my little princess!)
10. Prayer of St. Francis (from Mass for Peace). I first encountered this when I was a freshman at the UP College of Music. The librarian was selling only a few copies of Mass for Peace and I immediately got one. My choir still sings this during our masses. Here was our performance in our concert at the GSIS Museum last October.
What’s your favorite? Any other Mr. C. songs in mind? Would love to hear from you!