Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Cebuano composers to be feted

POP ARAZZI - POP ARAZZI By Nathalie M. Tomada -
Vicente Rubi and Mariano Vestil, composer and lyricist, respectively, of "Kasadya Ning Taknaa" and Ben Zubiri, composer of "Matud Nila," will receive posthumous awards for their exemplary contributions to Cebu arts and culture.

The awards are to be given by the former congressman and the University of the Visayas executive vice-president Jose "Dodong" R. Gullas, in coordination with the The FREEMAN, Banat News and ABS-CBN's dyAB.

The awarding and tribute concert, featuring the award-winning UV Chorale who will be performing their timeless pieces, will take place on February 28, 6pm at the Casino Español de Cebu. The event will be aired live over DYAB.

Relatives of Vicente Rubi and Mariano Vestil expressed their elation over the recognition, which began as an idea long conceived by Sir Dodong to afford due honor to Cebuano artists and performers, being an avowed fan himself of original Cebuano music even as a child.

"Wala mi mag-expect aning pagpasidungog sa among amahan. Hinaut unta makadasig kini sa ubang Sugbuanon na artists," said Rodolfo Rubi, a former mediaman and the eldest son of Vicente Rubi. Indeed, awards should never cease on coming to people who have had made their fellow Cebuanos proud.

There is little doubt, if none at all, at how much of an impact their works have made. No Christmas is complete without Cebuanos bursting into the famous spirited Yuletide carol, "Kasadya Ning Taknaa." And I've been told many times by performing groups and artists that during their overseas gigs they are forever requested by Pinoys working or living abroad to play the ballad, "Matud Nila," which could still send many hearts a-flutter and waxing nostalgic.

In a brief interview with Rubi and Vestil's family members last week, we learned that "Kasadya" was born in 1933. Cebuano playwrights were then planning to mount a stage play that called for a scene with carolers. Rubi and Vestil, who were neighbors, came up with the music, "Kasadya," to accompany and enliven such scene.

"Kasadya," which has been translated to various local dialects over the years and is sung nationwide, continues to be a source of pride for many Cebuanos wherever they may go, so much so that whenever its Tagalog edition "Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit" is wrongly acknowledged as the original version, expect Cebuanos to protest.

Yes, it is unfortunate but true, if you try to "google" the song; notice that there are still articles (even on the web-based free encylopedia, Wikipedia!) that attributed it to the late national artist and prolific songwriter Levi Celerio as one of his original compositions.

An interesting story I got from the children of Rubi: there was this one time when Cong. Eddie Gullas heard mass at the Quiapo Church, during which "Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit" was sung and credited as an original work of Celerio. The congressman was said to have approached the priest who was celebrating mass and corrected the mistake.

With due respect to the late national artist Celerio, if he were still alive today, I believe he will be the first one to amend this misconception.

Anyhow, the lasting power of "Kasadya" and "Matud Nila" goes to say that long, long before several of our "Bisrock" bands have been making waves in Manila, the above-mentioned songs and composers have gone to prove and validate Cebuanos' innate musicality and consummate artistry.

Please read the more detailed lifestory of Kasadya composer Vicente Rubi in tomorrow's issue in this section.










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