The power of language in music

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya - The Freeman

I just listened to songs that have endeared previous generations and would hopefully be loved by the current generation because they have been translated into our own Cebuano language while the melody has remained unchanged. This is the essence of Hubadawit, coined Hubad and Awit (translate and song) which a good friend, lyricist, musician, mediaman and my teledrama director Sam Costanilla has been performing in partnership with his well-known singers such as Dulce, Raki Vega, among others.

For example, Sam's translation of Asia's eternal diva, Dulce's song "Paano," which became a jukebox smash in 1979, has become so appealing utilizing crisp Cebuano language, which he titled “Unsaon Ko.”

Dante Luzon, a veteran broadcaster, painter, my co-actor in a film and stage actor, was likewise grateful for the opportunity to perform the hubadawit "Pinangga Ko Ikaw," a Cebuano rendition of the 1934 jazz standard "The Very Thought of You." Ray Noble composed the music, and the words are in Cebuano. Sam's second Hubadawit project for him. "Walay Sama," his Cebuano rendition of another standard, "That's All," was the first.

Juve Villar, a Cebuano composer and finalist in the 29th Cebu Pop Music Festival, sang "Higugmaon Ka," a song set to the tune of "You're Closer to Me." The lyrics eloquently expresses a never-ending, loving soul that is genuinely unrivaled.

Who could forget the grand winner of Born Diva, a Philippine reality show hosted by Zsa Zsa Padilla that aired on ABS-CBN and internationally on The Filipino Channel from August 28, 2004 to March 27, 2005? Sam also invited Raki Vega, who is now based and living in Hong Kong as a principal cast member of Disneyland's "Mickey and The Wondrous Book," to perform a rendition of "In My Life," penned by Lennon-McCartney of the Beatles, with Cebuano lyrics and titled "Julia," which is the name of her daughter.

Songs can be adapted by either translating the lyrics with the complete message carried over or departing away from the entire message and weaving a fresh message while keeping the original tune. Since a result, changes stem from the composer's artistic freedom, as he may wish to keep the message but express it in a different language, or change the message totally by relying on strong melody recall for an entirely new meaning.

Music is the world's universal language. Music speaks when words fail. Life is like a lovely tune with messed up lyrics. The melody or music of a song is said to be a universal language as it addresses our innermost feelings, whether it's a message of love, hatred, disappointment, or longing. However, it is the message that the listeners actually comprehended that brings genuine feelings and emotions to life.

The bottom line is that music has a specific position among humans in all cultures and all parts of the world, and it impacts us in distinct ways. In some manner, we've all experienced it. This is something we don't need science to tell us!

Kudos to Sam Costanilla and our Cebuano singers/artists, who, despite the fact that some of them are already in various parts of the world, continue to instill in us the universality of music through the language we are most familiar with and proud of.


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