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Contemporary Music by Mindanao Artists

Joey Ayala
Joey Ayala
Photo taken from Joey Ayala's facebook.

Joey Ayala is the Philippines' most successful regional songwriter-musician having blazed a trail in the country's music industry—once the dominion of pop balladeers from Manila—and the world music scene.  Joey, likewise, popularized indigenous music instruments, (especially the hegalong of the T'boli), all deftly used by the members of his band Bagong Lumad (new or alterered native). He and his songs have been described in very many strong ways—prophetic, poetic, ethnic, and "plumbing the depths of the Filipino Spirit" (Eric Caruncho, Punks, Poets Poseurs, Anvil Publishing)—having found the magic formula for weaving beautiful melody and sagacious poetry into song. He has released 11 music albums: Panganay ng Umaga, Magkabilaan, Mga Awit ng Tanod-lupa, Lumad sa Siyudad, Lupa't Langit, 16Lovesongs, Awit ng Mandaragat, Organik, Basta May Saging, JoeyAyala: RAW, and the music soundtrack of Ballet Philippines' Engkantada.

Joey's major contribution to changing the country's musical environment, and raising awareness on social and environmental issues has earned him the TOYM (Ten Outstanding Young Men) Award, the Datu Bago Award and Special Philippine Centennial Citation from the City of Davao, Environmental Heroism Award from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Gawad ng Pagkilala from the Komisyon ng Wikang Pilipino, the Gerry Roxas Leadership Award, the Special MAGIS Award for Outstanding Alumni from Ateneo de Manila, and a Special Citation  from Concerned Women of the Philippines for inspiring "the youth and progressive movements committed to ecological wholeness, justice and peace through music and song.”

His website: http://www.joeyayala.com.

Popong Landero
Popong Landero
Photo by Greg Morales.

Popong Landero was first a musical sojourner before he finally took root in Davao, where he was born and raised. In the 70s to 80s he jammed with the indigenous pop/rock band Asin, played with the folk-rock band Ric & Roll, the new wave band Earthlings, the pioneering reggae-rock band Lolita & Sulabama, and Prisoners of the Worldbank. He is the legendary "Kaliweteng Gitarista" (Lefty Guitarist) and Davao's Father of Reggae. Popong has produced six albums to date —Ayayayayay, Laylay sa Sidlakan, Kamay ni Laan, Impact 2000, Rasta Mindanaw, and Bahaghari Tayo. His band goes by the name of PLO (Popong Landero Org).

Also a cultural worker, Popong has organized Roots-Arts-Reggae festivals, and is the founder of the Samahan ng mga Musikeros sa Davao, Inc. (SAMADHI). As a thespian, Popong has nearly 30 years of writing and directing music, and performing for major Mindanao plays. He has collaborated extensively with various music and theater artists around the Philippines, Asia, and Europe.

Popong won the 2009 Gaward Urian for Best Music for the film "Hunghong sa Yuta" by Arnel Mardoquio. He was again nominated in the 2011 Gaward Urian for Best Music for the film "Sheika" by the same director.

Grace Nono
Grace Nono
Photo taken from www.gracenono.com.

Born in Agusan, Northeastern Mindanao, Grace Nono spent nearly 20 years studying the indigenous and folk music of the Philippines.  Working closely with composer and music arranger Bob Aves she produced several albums of contemporary world music inspired from these oral traditions, including Tao Music, Diwa, Isang Buhay, Opo, Hulagpos, and Dalit. She also founded Tao Music Records, which produces music albums featuring indigenous and world music artists, and has co-produced with Aves an audio and print series on Philippine oral traditions and instrumental music. She is the Founding Director of Tao Foundation for Culture and Arts, a non-profit "engaged in cultural regeneration and holistic development initiatives."

Grace has reaped over 40 awards for her music and cultural work, including the country's prestigious TOWNS (The Outstanding Women Award in the Nation’s Service) and TOYM (Ten Outstanding Young Men Award), and music awards with the Catholic Mass Media, Katha, Awit, and National Press Club. Her book The Shared Voice: Chanted and Spoken Narratives from the Philippines bagged the 28th National Book Awards, Arts category. Her website: http://www.gracenono.com

Cynthia Alexander
Cynthia Alexander
Photo taken from Cynthia Alexander's facebook.

Cynthia Alexander started out in the music industry as the bassist Cynthia Ayala of the rock band Hayp, where she established herself as one of the country's leading bassists when she bagged the Best Bass Player award at the 1989 World Band Explosion Finals in Tokyo, Japan. She moved on to play with brother Joey Ayala and his group Bagong Lumad in 1991 playing the octavina and various indigenous percussion instruments.

In 1996, she went solo with her album Insomnia and Other Lullabyes which reaped the KATHA Music Awards for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album in 1998, and nominations for New Artist and Best Bass Player in the NU107 Rock Awards a year earlier. Her second album, Rippingyarns, won Album of the Year, Best Alternative Music Album, Best Album Design and Producer of the Year in the 2001 KATHA Music Awards. The song "Intertwyne," in the same album also won the KATHA for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Alternative Music Vocal Performance and Best Alternative Music Composition. Another song, "Motorbykle," won the Song of the Year award in the 2001 NU107 Rock Awards. The third album, Comet's Tail garnered Best Guitarist and Best Producer awards in the 2005 NU107 Rock Awards.

Bayang Barrios
Bayang Barrios
Photo by Larry Bolotaolo.

Bayang Barrios of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur flew to stardom when she won the Grand Prize at the prestigious 2003 Metro Manila Pop Music Festival for her song Malayo Man, Malapit Din. By then she has already produced two albums Bayang Makulay and Harinawa, and the popular single Bagong Umaga, a finalist at the same competition in 1996. She then came out with Alon (2004) and Biyaya (2009), which bagged the Philippine Movie Press Club Best Alternative Album of the Year.

Bayang is known for the voice behind the theme songs of hit television shows Encantadia, Etheria and Pinoy Abroad. She has reaped many awards and nominations, including 2003 MTV Choice of Women Achievers; 1998 Anvil Awards for the interpretation of Gary Granada's Lakbayin ang Pilipinas; 1997 Lorenzo Ruiz Award for Music from the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) for Bayang Makulay; 1997 Katha Awards for Best World Music Song (Bagong Umaga), Best Vocal Performance and Best Folk Song (Saan Nanggagaling ang Himig), Best Folk Arrangement (Alay sa mga Kapatid), and Best Album (Bayang Makulay); and 1996 Asian Vocalist Festival Golden Awardee at the Hanoi Music Festival.

Her website: http://www.bayangbarrios.com

Waway Saway
Waway Saway
Photo by Donald Brian Antipasado.

Waway Saway, born of the Talaandig tribe in Bukidnon, started playing music in the early 90s doing small gigs with a band of nomadic musicians and artists in small venues in Manila and Boracay. He has since formed his own, carving a name not just for himself, but also for his tribe. Waway's involvement with theater artists and other cultural workers led him to wider and wider circles of connectivity, bringing him and his fellow Talaandig artists to more performance venues across the country, Europe, America and Asia; and bringing those whose lives he has affected with his music home to his little hut at the foot of Mt. Kitanglad. From his cold tropical mountain studio, Waway churned out seven music albums: Dilig, Punla, Lupa, Dilay, Lendeng, Kulahi hu Bugta and Punla: Pangarap, Pantasya, Panaginip, producing, as well, music albums for his Talaandig co-musicians flutist Sultan and percussionist Balugto. He invented a new instrument called the tambuleleng, a 2-stringed instrument akin to a violin (click to see it on YOUTUBE ), featured in the first track of his music above.

Waway's special feature on OOV: http://www.oovrag.com/portrait/portrait2004a-1.shtml

L-R: Paolo Sisi, Maan Chua, Maia Tampoy, Maree Contaoi, Geejay Arriola (Geej Langlois),
Chico Zambrano, Gauss Obenza. Photo by Dustein Sibug.

L-R: Paolo Sisi, Maree Contaoi, Gauss Obenza, Maia Tampoy, Maan Chua,
Raffy Ayala. Photo taken from Mebuyan's facebook.

MEBUYAN, based in Davao City, is composed of a motley of accomplished composers-musicians. Gauss Obenza was nominated for Best Music in the 2010 Gawad Urian for Arnel Mardoquio’s film “Hospital Boat.” Paolo Sisi won first place at the 2008 Annual World Music Competition (Tunog Mindanao), Maan Chua won third place in the nationwide Nokia MusiConnection competition, Maia Tampoy made it to the second round of the national talent competition Pilipinas Got Talent, and ex-member and co-founder Geejay Arriola (Geej Langlois) has written music for various major Mindanao plays for 20 years. Other members include percussionists Maree Contaoi, Chico Zambrano and Fayebelle Mayo-Lacerona.

Mebuyan's first musical project was the dance-musicale Panaw hailed as one of the top 10 performances at the Asian Theater Festival in India in 2003. It was the prime mover in the highly-acclaimed concert-play Salima, which closed the Philippines' Third National Theater Festival in 2004. Five years later, Mebuyan was nominated for PHILSTAGE’s Annual Gawad Buhay Awards for Outstanding Musical Composition for Tanghalang Pilipino’s (TP) “Madonna Brava,” an adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s play “Mother Courage.”

Mebuyan has released its first music album entitled “Mga Kuwentong Bata.” Their website: http://www.mebuyanpeaceproject.org.

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