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Jim Paredes defends Cayabyab’s National Artist title: ‘Ryan has tons of great work’

/ 09:05 AM October 26, 2018

Image: Facebook/Jim Paredes

Activist and musician Jim Paredes, one-third of the iconic APO Hiking Society, recently took to social media to defend the conferment of the National Artist title on musician-composer-conductor Ryan Cayabyab. The title or order of National Artist was bestowed on him on Wednesday, Oct. 24.

Cayabyab joined the likes of six other esteemed artists: architect Francisco Mañosa (Architecture), filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik (Cinema), Cebu-based writer Resil Mojares (Literature), dramatist Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio (Theater), Hiligaynon writer Ramon Muzones (Literature, posthumous) and cartoonist Lauro “Larry” Alcala (Visual Arts, posthumous).

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It was on the same day, Oct. 24, that Paredes took to social media to respond to a certain Miyako Izabel, a writer and independent publisher, after the latter questioned what Cayabyab has done that would merit the honor.

“Cayabyab fans, you can always disagree with me. What has he done that is worthy of the greatest praise? Da Coconut Nut?” wrote Izabel (@sejoalzir) on Twitter.

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“Has he created a music genre? Is his body of work lasting as a cultural treasure? I don’t think so. Heber Bartolome, a political folk singer, is more deserving.”

Paredes replied to Izabel’s tweet, vehemently disagreeing and saying Cayabyab’s body of work is diverse.

“Ryan has TONS of GREAT work as diverse as classical pieces, full orchestral scores and pieces, full musicals, groundbreaking acapella albums when no one was doing them, pop hits, film scores,” Paredes said in defense of Cayabyab.

“I do not think you have been exposed to his life’s work.”

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Izabel wrote back, saying that the talk was about “national treasures.”

“I can say Nora Aunor is the Meryl Streep of the Philippines. I can also say Mike de Leon is the Kubric of the Philippines. I think we should up the ante.”

Paredes and Izabel went back and forth for some time, with Paredes continuing to defend Cayabyab as deserving of the National Artist Award. “I think Ryan has a sound and style clearly his own and he has worked and made great music in practically all genres.”

Izabel, on the other hand, used Cayabyab’s popular works as basis, saying, “So pedestrian.”

Izabel also doubted that the songs of Smokey Mountain—a musical group that Cayabyab formrd in the ’80s—were cultural treasures.

“Do you really think the songs of Smokey Mountain are cultural treasures? Come on…” Izabel wrote. “I assess our national artists by not distorting the meaning of ‘national artist’. Amelia Lapena-Bonifacio’s body of work in children’s theater, for example, is unparalleled in the Philippines.”

Paredes maintained, on his end, that Smokey Mountain had good songs. “The problem is your view is so myopic and so limited…”

Paredes also admitted that he is unfamiliar with Amelia’s work, but would take Izabel’s word that it is good.

“I do not know Amelia’s work. I take your word that it is good. Now I ask you, is it popular? Has it resonated with many Filipinos?”

Cayabyab’s monumental win was celebrated and marked by fellow artists including Tony Award-winning singer Lea Salonga, who took to Twitter last Oct. 23 to congratulate Cayabyab with utmost reverence.

“Kay ganda ng ating musika… dahil nariyan ka!” Salonga wrote then. “Maraming salamat sa mga awiting iyong nilikha upang mapaawit ang ating bansa!!!”  /ra

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TAGS: Culture, jim paredes, National Artist, National Artist Awards, OPM (Original Pilipino Music), Ryan Cayabyab
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