Candon’s first music fest a smash hit

Edmund Silvestre - The Philippine Star
Candonâs first music fest a smash hit
The Manila Symphony Orchestra

MANILA, Philippines — A multitude of thrilled Ilocanos turned out at the first Candon Music Festival from May 23 to 25, with National Artist for Music Maestro Ryan Cayabyab setting the stage to make the city — a gateway to Ilocandia and the Cordilleras — a mecca for music tourism in northern Philippines.

Cayabyab, the festival director, was euphoric during the three-day fusion of classical music, pop, rock, OPM and Ilocano songs at the Bagani Campo Concert Grounds. Ecstatic spectators, at one point, braved a 30-minute downpour just to cheer their favorite bands like Gloc-9, Sponge Cola, Rivermaya, 6Cyclemind and Moonstar88, sharing the stage with the Manila Symphony Orchestra, the Candon City Chamber Orchestra and the Ryan Cayabyab Singers.

EricNational Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab and Noel Cabangon

“They loved it. Many of them were millennials, and they had a great time,” Cayabyab exhuberantly told The STAR. “They went wild when the Manila Symphony performed Buwan.”

“I just hope this will have a ripple effect on other cities and towns of Ilocos and other provinces in the region,” he added.

The festival is a brainchild of former House Deputy Speaker Eric Singson, who has been advocating tourism promotion through the integration of music, arts and culture. Rep. Singson welcomed the participants and spectators at the festival’s opening night and was joined by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, who hailed Candon’s first-ever music festival.

 “Let us continue to amplify our ‘It’s more fun’ message by providing meaningful tourism experiences for our visitors to share and serve as first-hand sources of positive content,” Romulo-Puyat said.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

Also present at the milestone launch were Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Singson, Candon Mayor Ericson Singson and Congresswoman-elect Kristine Singson-Meehan (Ilocos Sur, Second District).

It was Rep. Eric’s vision and “noble” advocacy, according to Cayabyab, that convinced him to take on the challenge of directing this ambitious project — and lend his name to the cause.

“I saw everything was in place — there’s logistics and production arm — and it’s so good that their intention was born out of 10 years of giving free training to young musicians in Candon,” he noted.

Ilocos Sur, Second District Rep. Eric Singson conceptualized the Candon Music Festival to promote music tourism.

About 300 gifted youngsters in Candon are being trained to sing and play classical music by eight scholars, who are paying it forward after graduating from St. Paul University Manila’s Conservatory of Music. The scholarship was granted by MDS Heritage Music Foundation, headed by  Singson-Meehan.

“That was the clincher for me,” said Cayabyab on accepting the festival director task, “that they’re really serious, that their heart is in the right place and that they really want this to happen.”

He added that Candon’s inspiring story reminds him of the summer camp he put up in Dumaguete City for aspiring singer-songwriters that produced some of the biggest songwriters today, including Moira dela Torre, Davey Langit, Lara Maigue, Yumi Lacsamana, Thyro Alfaro, Bullet Dumas and Ben & Ben.

Candon City Mayor EricNational Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab and Noel Cabangon son Singson.

“Like our benefactor in Dumaguete, our benefactor in Candon didn’t ask what’s in it for me,” Cayabyab revealed. “What I saw is a noble undertaking to plant the seeds to help the community, especially the young, to not only appreciate a higher form of art like classical music but teach them how to play.”

Candon has produced the city’s finest music ensembles such as the Candon City Chamber Orchestra, the Candon City Children’s Choir and the Candon City Chorale.


Other major performers at Candon music fest were Noel Cabangon, Banda ni Kleggy, Deck of Cards, Imago, Philippine Cello Ensemble, Prof. Ronan Ferrer (tenor), Gracenote, Pinoy Brass, Tila Baliw, Aimee Mina dela Cruz (marimba), Cardona Youth Symphonic Band, DJ Patty Tiu, Jammers, Kabataang Gitarista, Orange & Lemons, with Regina Garabiles (soprano), Jedessa Calacday (soprano), Melissa Nartatez, (piano), Joy Allan dela Cruz (viola) and DJ Lester Paulo Vano.

From Left: 6Cyclemind, Gloc-9 and Banda ni Kleggy.




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