In the years that followed, the music of my life became more and more the music of the
Philippines. Maybe it was because of the first radio shows I presented. The music archive was
full of Filipino music, but it was rarely broadcast. I thought that was a shame.
I asked myself: What makes Filipino music unique? My radio colleagues gave me an answer:
such is the case of Philippine music which until today is regarded as a unique blending of two
great musical traditions – the East and the West. The majority of Philippine Music revolves
around cultural influences from the West, due primarily to the Spanish and American rule for
over three centuries.
I learned from musicologist and professor of the University of the Philippines, College of Music,
that after studying abroad, modern methods of composition were employed by Eliseo Pajaro and
Lucresia Kasilag. Both were strongly influenced by American neoclassicism.
Jose Maceda is considered the first legitimate Filipino avant-garde composer. He was the first
Filipino composer to succeed in liberating Philippine musical expression from the colonial
European mold of symphonies, sonatas, and concertos.
Among the younger generation of composers, the first to respond to the challenges of new music
were Francisco Feliciano and Ramon Santos.
A still younger set of composers, all students of Santos includes Josefino Toledo, Ruben
Federizon, Verne de la Pena, Arlene Chongson, and Jonas Baes. Since the 1950’s to the
present, the trend of serious musical compositions in the Philippines has been towards a
synthesis of traditional concepts of structure, of time, of space, of melody, of performance
medium with the new and experimental techniques.
Then, I met Ryan Cayabyab (born Raymundo Cipriano Pujante Cayabyab; May 4, 1954), also
known as Mr. C – a Filipino musician, composer and conductor. His compositional style makes
much use of syncopation, extended chords, and chromatic harmony. He was the Executive and
Artistic Director for several years for the defunct San Miguel Foundation for the Performing
Arts. He was named as National Artist of the Philippines for Music in 2018. His musical output
consists of several masses, award winning film and television scores, short symphonic works, ten
full-length Filipino musicals, a major opera, full length ballets, solo and instrumental works,
orchestrations of Filipino folk, popular and love songs. I was fascinated by his stage
During her Europe tour, Imelda Papin crossed my way. Imelda Arcilla Papin (born January 26,
1956) – a Filipino singer and one of the bigger names in the Philippine music industry. Dubbed
the “Sentimental Songstress”, Imelda Papin is responsible for songs such as “Bakit (Kung
Liligaya Ka Sa Piling Ng Iba)” and “Isang Linggong Pag-ibig”.
In 2018, legend Rico Puno died. I experienced him, the naughty-mouthed macho guapito and
total entertainer, as he was described in 2005 during his performances in the Apo View Hotel in
Davao City. “Grabe”. The “Godfather of Pinoy Soul” passed away too early.
My encounters with Filipino music of all kinds were so colorful with the colors of a rainbow.
During some of my stays in Manila, the Madrigal Singers performed the Philippine and German
National Anthem. Goosebumps .
During their first performance in Berlin, I got tears in my eyes.
Filipino pop music, otherwise known as Original Pilipino Music or OPM, refers broadly to the
pop music that first emerged in the Philippines in the early ’70s and has since come to dominate
radio airplay and karaoke playlists in the Filipino market and beyond. But my radio shows
brought me back to the classics by Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Bach, Händel more and