Thank you for the music, Mr. C! | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

I saw the ad for “Ryan Ryan Musikwentuhan” only a week before the show. And I thought: This one I want to see.


Ryan Cayabyab is one of my all time music heroes.


My mom knew his mom, Celerina Pujante, who, like Mama, was a celebrated soprano. They both taught at the UP Conservatory of Music. Ryan was six when she passed away. They say she didn’t want him to go into music.


The show was held at the Globe Auditorium of Maybank Performing Arts Theater. It was billed as “an intimate tribute to honor Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, our National Artist for Music.” And it was all that.


We were regaled with funny personal anecdotes. We listened to his songs. There was laughter. And many were moved to tears.


There was no symphony orchestra. No drum roll. No curtain. No props. No special effects in the lights or sound. No contrived drama.


It was not a production spectacle. Not by a stretch. There were no sets. Costumes were ordinary. The artists wore normal clothes. Some seemed dressed up for a party, others looked like they were ready to go to school or a movie or the mall. It was not important what they wore.


Of course, for her number, the irrepressible, inimitable Pilita wore a sparkly, slinky black gown with a high slit. Like I said, normal attire.


So many missed out


I was sad to see that the venue was not filled to the rafters. It was a good crowd but it should have been SRO. I would have loved seeing people stand in line, elbowing one another for space, craning their necks for a better view, maybe even buying scalped tickets just to get inside. I am sorry that so many missed it.


But it was crowded on that stage. Some of the biggest names on any marquee came forth to salute and pay homage. They performed his music. They told their own “Ryan kwento” and expressed love and deep respect and maybe even awe for the composer, director, writer, friend, mentor and today, our National Artist for Music.


Every accolade they offered was well-deserved, and in my humble opinion, even the superlatives fell a tad short of the man’s genius.


But it was, like the organizers had planned it, “a sincere expression of gratitude.” And more.


I hear a repeat may be in the works. Sadly, the spontaneity and sincerity of that one special night of tribute will be impossible to duplicate.


Maribel Garcia, head of content for the BGC Arts Center who hosted the undertaking, paid her own tribute to the artists.


“We are in awe of the Filipino artists, their mettle and imagination. The power they unleash all find their way in our lives in ways that do not move stock markets or bank accounts. Instead they take sublime paths. They reshape our souls so that we can bend and ride the seasons of our lives. That is a running debt we owe our artists. Without them, we will decay before it is time.


“That is why ‘Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika’ is a currency of the Filipino soul. That is why Maestro Ryan Cayabyab is a national treasure. That is why we are extremely honored to produce this tribute for him.”


Soul searching


I heard a lady raving about the show say this: “Every Filipino searching for his soul, should have been here.”


I agreed.


Because only in the heart of Cayabyab’s music and the patent admiration and respect that each artist on that stage displayed for him, was it possible to find sentiments untouched by the deceit and duplicity in the world today.


We found a welcome respite and solace away from the arid and putrefied environment of greed and ego that prevails.


Thank you, Ryan. I believe many of us found our soul that night. We sat there mesmerized for three hours.


Yes, it was a long show. But no one seemed to mind. No one was restless. We loved the taste of our first glimmer of hope. We felt the commitment and dedication of each artist. We saw integrity of unknown dimension, a total giving of time and talent for the sake of and in gratitude for the music. That night, as far as everyone was concerned, the spotlight belonged to nobody else but Cayabyab.


The only headliner was Mr. C. As a result, every single one of them on that stage shone brighter than a star.


For the finale, the National Artist himself came down to join his friends and took on his favorite role, as a “musikero” at the piano. And we all sang our hearts out as he played “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika.” Bravo, Mr. C! And thank you!


A kind man


I have been reading such wonderful stories about the late Henry Sy Sr.; how he grew from an ordinary shoe seller to a globally acclaimed retail business tycoon, a philanthropist and the richest man in Asia.


I remember the early ShoeMart. I thought shoes fell from  the sky. They had a unique system. It was efficient. Flawless.


Great things have been said about Henry Sy. One description stands out for me. A colleague said, “He was a kind man.”


What an amazing thing to be known for. Kindness: such a rarity in the world today. Everything else pales in comparison.


I wish I had met him.


Godspeed, Mr. Sy.