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Great Filipino Music Artists (80’s – Present) Essay

Basil Valdez

Like many Filipino singers in the 1970s, Valdez started solo on his career as a folk singer. In 1972, he joined the Circus Band and after it was disbanded, he released Ngayon at Kailanman, his first solo album. In the Circus Band, he met Ryan Cayabyab, who was then part of other band. When Valdez was preparing his album Ngayon at Kailanman, he asked Cayabyab to give a few songs, he did. Cayabyab stands as Valdez’s musical director for 27 years. In the 80’s, Valdez republished himself as a singer of movie theme songs; some of them are “Paano Ba Ang Mangarap,” “Muling Buksan Ang Puso” and “Paraisong Parisukat.” A circumstance which sidelined his singing career occurred in 1990, when he found himself as a “healer”. Valdez then sought the guidance of his Jesuit friends. They explained to him that he has gift of healing.

Ryan Cayabyab

A great Filipino music artist known as the Executive and Artistic Director of the defunct San Miguel Foundation for the Performing Arts. He was also a resident judge for the solo season of Philippine Idol in 2006. A versatile artist with his works ranging from commissioned full-length ballets, theater musicals, choral pieces, a Mass set to unaccompanied chorus/congregation, and orchestral pieces, to commercial recordings of popular music, film scores and television specials. Cayayab’s current project includes the Ryan Cayabyab Singers (RCS), a group of seven young adult singers comparable like his group Smokey Mountain in the early ’90s. After FreemantleMedia decided not to renew the Philippine Idol franchise, Cayabyab decided to transfer to rival show Pinoy Dream Academy (Season 2), replacing Jim Paredes as the show’s headmaster. PDA 2 started on June 14, 2008.

Nonoy Zuñiga

Nonoy Z’s singing career spans more than 3 decades; as a folksinger from 1971 to 1975 and then as one of the lead singers of the Family Birth Control Band which performed in the best nightspots and hotels like Philippine Plaza, Holiday Inn and the Manila Hotel from 1975-1980. To hone his skill, he took special voice training from the late Aurelio Estanislao, a well-known tenor singer and music-voice professor at the University of the Philippines.

With his clear baritone voice he started to attract the attention of music buffs. His style and rendition of different songs especially love songs made him acquire a number of distinct awards,

Bayang Barrios

Lumad origin, born on June 12, 1986. A Filipino musician who hails from Bunawan, Agusan del Sur, and is known for her use of indigenous instruments and styles. In 2005, Barrios’ song Isipin Mo Na Lang was used in end credits of the indie Filipino film Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Maximo Oliveros (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros). In September 2008, she launched her fourth album entitled “Biyaya”.

Ramon Jacinto

Jacinto has always tried to put music and business together. He started to enter the world of entrepreneurship at the young age of 15. He built up his first enterprise called RJ Enterprises, a company which dealt with producing and release records. RJ Enterprises pioneered multi-track recording in the country and eventually became the primary studio choice for many artists and advertising agencies at that time. Two years later, Jacinto ventured to establish what would become a legendary radio station in the Philippine broadcasting industry – DZRJ.

It served as a venue for on-air experiments of radio concepts which were never heard before in Philippine entertainment history. Manned by students, mostly coming from Jacinto’s high school class, the radio station introduced alternative music to the Filipino youth. It was the first station to play songs from rock legends such as the Beatles, the Ventures and the Beachboys. The radio station also gave emphasis on playing the music of local talent. Apart from DZRJ, Jacinto also established the now defunct, DZUW.

Pepe Smith

a Filipino singer-songwriter, drummer, and guitarist. More commonly known alternately as Joey Smith and Pepe Smith, he is an icon of original Filipino rock music or “Pinoy Rock”.

Gary Valenciano

Born 6 August 1964, better known as Gary Valenciano or Gary V., is a Filipino musician. Also known as Mr. Pure Energy, Valenciano has released 26 albums, and won the Awit Awards for “Best Male Performer” eleven times. In 1998, he became UNICEF Philippines first National Ambassador. His most notable songs include “Di Bale Na Lang” (“Never mind”), “Eto Na Naman” (“Here we go again”), “Sana Maulit Muli” (“Hope it repeats again”), “Natutulog Ba Ang Diyos?” (“Does God sleep”), “Gaya ng Dati” (“Just like before”), “Pasko Na, Sinta Ko” (“It’s Christmas already, my love”), and “Narito” (“Here”). He is currently part of ABS-CBN contract actors, and is frequently tapped to sing theme songs for the network’s soap operas and films.

Fr. Eduardo Hontiveros

Fr. Honti, as he is fondly known, was educated at the Capiz Elementary School and the pre-war Ateneo de Manila in Padre Faura, graduating from high school in 1939. From 1939 to 1945 he was at San Jose Seminary. He entered the Society of Jesus after the war in 1945, pronouncing first vows at Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches in June 1947. He finished his studies of philosophy there and then proceeded to Ateneo de Zamboanga for his three-year regency, teaching religion, Latin, and English, and moderating the Choir String Band. In 1951, he traveled to the United States to study theology, and was ordained in 1954 by Francis Cardinal Spellman.

After earning a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, he returned to teach in the Philippines in 1958. He pronounced final vows in the Society of Jesus in 1960. Fr. Honti’s initiatives have been recognized with the Ateneo de Manila University’s Tanglaw ng Lahi Award (1976), the Asian Catholic Publishers’ “Outstanding Catholic Author” (1992), and the Papal award Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (2000), among many other awards and citations. He suffered another major stroke in early January 2008, and died on January 15th. At his funeral Mass at the Ateneo’s Church of the Gesu, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was present to honor him with the Presidential Medal of Merit (awarded posthumously).

Fr. Manoling Francisco

Fr. Manoling Francisco SJ entered the Society of Jesus after second year in college in 1985. As a child he had aspired to be a concert pianist; nevertheless he decided to discontinue his classical piano training at the age of 14 to devote his time to school and socio-civic activities. It was in his First Year High that he composed Hindi Kita Malilimutan. has been popularized by Mr. Basil Valdez. During the past 17 years he has composed more than a hundred and fifty songs such as Tanging Yaman, Sa ‘Yo Lamang are being sung all over the country – indeed, whatever there are Filipinos gathered together in prayer and liturgical celebration. Today, he is easily one of the most gifted musicians in the country.


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