Ryan Cayabyab can’t still wrap his head around the idea – the fact – that he is a National Artist of the Philippines for music.
In an exclusive interview with Bulletin Entertainment, he said he even feels “embarrassed” when people tell him so.
“It’s the highest compliment that could be given to any Filipino artist. You know why? Because it’s very difficult to pass the requirements. Even the first phase itself is already hard as if you’re going through an eye of a needle.”
How has it changed him? Not at all. For Ryan, it’s work as usual.
“I like my work, I like doing my work, it’s something I enjoy doing, so I just continue my work.”
Ryan shared how his music has evolved through the years.
Born to a classical-oriented family (his mother, for one, was an opera singer), Ryan grew up listening to pieces from the likes of German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven and Cuban singer Abelardo Barroso.
Later in high school, thanks to radio, he became aware of “popular” music.
Although his first course in college was accounting, he shifted to and finished Music major in Composition.
“I was doing serious music, classical music. But I’m fortunate because I got a job as pianist and later on, I became a musical director for many artists like Basil Valdez, Celeste Legaspi, Pilita Corrales. I also arranged music for Jose Mari Chan,” he recalled.
Ryan said his journey to music brought him first to arranging before he became a songwriter.
“But I became a little more known as songwriter from 1978 because of ‘Kay Ganda Ng Ating Musika.’ Because I joined a contest and I won the contest. So from then on I started writing songs. I mean I was not a songwriter before, my winning piece was actually the third composition I’ve written,” he said.
He related that aside from performing, sharing music, he likes educating people about it.
In fact, he even put up his own school together with his wife.
“I give a lot of workshops. I go around the country and help new songwriters,” he said.
He is also one of the forces behind the Elements Music Camp, primarily tutoring budding songwriters nationwide.
Who could be the next Ryan Cayabyab, we asked.
“Actually the younger artists have established their names on their own and so they’re not the next Ryan Cayabyab. They’re on their way to being the best in their field.
“I especially like Gerard Salonga. For me he’s on top of the list in terms of musical direction, arranging, conducting. He has come a long way.”
Of course, Ryan couldn’t be happier that he inspired Gerard to take up music.
Recall that Lea Salonga’s brother completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at the Ateneo de Manila University in 1994, and briefly studied music theory with Ryan. He subsequently went to the United States to pursue arranging studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts where he graduated summa cum laude and received Berklee’s Contemporary Writing and Production Achievement Award.
Ryan also has good words for Louie Ocampo, Cecile Azarcon, Vehnee Saturno, Rey Valera, all of whom he described as “really good singers-songwriters;” as well as Jungee Marcelo and Ebe Dancel.
After years of years of teaching, Ryan has his own set of gems – Ryan Cayabyab Singers (RCS).
He shared that the musical group started in 2007 wherein about almost 200 people auditioned but only seven singers were handpicked.
“My idea is not just a singing group. My idea is to get seven soloist but when they sing they can also blend in harmony. I really wanted to have a power vocal group,” he explained.
Ryan shared each of the seven artists has their respective forte. There’s a pop singer, a balladeer, a R&B singer, thespians, a classical singer who could also sing pop, and one that came from a choir.
Ryan and RCS graced the event at Eastwood City that re-imagines Christmas with enchanted forest of lights.
Over 100 lighted displays of captivating sea creatures, larger-than-life animals, and towering skyscrapers are ready to tickle the imagination of kids and kids-at-heart.
Made up of over 1.3 million LED light bulbs, the Enchanted Forest of Lights was officially launched to the tune of the iconic Filipino Christmas song “Kumukutikutitap” performed by Ryan with the RCS.
Guests can easily spot the more than 60 enchanting lighted animal displays spread across the Eastwood Citywalk, Eastwood Avenue and Eastwood Mall Open Park, where the iconic 50-feet Christmas tree dominates the landscape.
To showcase parallel worlds of fantasy and reality, there are also eight enchanted trees and eight towering skyscrapers, each measuring about 27 feet. The eight towering skyscrapers are derived from the famous landmarks around the world which includes, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Empire State and Chrysler buildings in New York, Burj Al Arab in Dubai, Eiffel Tower in Paris, Petronas in Malaysia, Big Ben in London, and Taipei 101 in Taiwan.
Tags: Basil Valdez, Cecile Azarcon, Celeste Legaspi, Eastwood, Ebe Dancel, EXCLUSIVE: Ryan Cayabyab and the story so far, Gerard Salonga, Jose Mari Chan, Jungee Marcelo, Louie Ocampo, Pilita Corrales, Rey Valera, Ryan Cayabyab, Ryan Cayabyab Singers, Vehnee Saturno, “Kay Ganda Ng Ating Musika”