National Artist Ryan Cayabyab Shares His Thoughts On The Current State Of OPM
Hyper-localism: this is what Ryan Cayabyab speaks of when describing the current state of OPM (original Pilipino music). It's a new kind of movement, and one that's exciting for locally-reared talents such as Cayabyab himself.
A National Artist conferred at the age of 64, Cayabyab has spent much of his career see-sawing through the wide spectrum of music. He's done symphonic work, opera, and concerto, but has also made a name for himself in more mainstream media. As a seasoned maestro, Cayabyab has had the opportunity to do what newer, less experienced talents have not: he's seen, firsthand, how the music industry has changed over time. "I had experienced the 'golden age' of original Pilipino music starting with the birth of the Manila Sound and non-stop creation of homegrown music. [I'd also witnessed] the rise of Filipino performers of different genres from the 70s - 80s; the rise of bands and various acts, acoustic and electric from the 90s to the early turn of the millennium," he shares. Now, he says, he's seeing the rise of "hyper-local music", a movement that comes at a time of rejuvenation, particularly for the "Love Local" cause.
"[In hyper-localism], music from the other parts of the country—far from the centre of the music industry in Manila—will be felt in a big way," Cayabyab explains. "This is what I am most excited for." While he admits that international breakthroughs in OPM could be a long way off, he also says that this recognition towards Visayan and Mindanaoan music could pave the way for a stronger musical identity. "To whom is popular music for anyway? It is for the young populace. We are hoping (since way back when) that the tide of music consumption will turn to favour locally made songs."
The Support Needed
Today, efforts have been put into place to ensure that our youth are given a chance to shine in the field of music. For example, Elements Music Camp, of which Cayabyab is a mentor, has produced the likes of Ben&Ben, as well as Moira de la Torre. The Philpop Bootcamp, which produced two winners from Cebu and Mindanao the past two seasons, has also encouraged national talents to step forward. "As long as we have projects like these in the industry," Cayabyab asserts, "there will be constant improvement and appreciation for local music."
But of course, the reliance on short-term projects isn't fully sustainable without more concrete support. By studying Korean and Swedish models in the music industry, it's obvious that if there's one thing that can give our fledgeling industry a boost, it's backing, be it from government or private institutions. "If we highlight the commonality between the Swedish and Korean models it all boils down to a strong program by an institution (government or private) that will concentrate in encouraging, educating, promoting and investing large funds for local music creation," Cayabyab observes.
The Secret To Success
The amalgam of experiences brought on by a decades-long career has taught Cayabyab some pretty valuable lessons, among which is his own secret to success. While there is no definite formula to achieving what National Artists have done in their lifetimes, Cayabyab shares that stepping out of the box has served him quite well. "What can I say? To stand out from the rest, have the courage to wildly experiment." And at 66, our local virtuoso continues to do just that. "I plan to do two dream projects," Cayabyab shares, almost conspiratorially. "First, a fun project that involves what I like doing best—eating and making music! And second, a more quiet project, that of video-recording myself singing songs that I grew up with, so I can leave these for my future grandchildren."