Saturday night at the Ford Amphitheater, music and song filled the night air with the presentation of “The Music of Life” a musical salute to Philippines’ native son, Ryan Cayabyab. Sponsored by the Bahay Kubo Center for Philippine Culture and Arts, “The Music of Life: Awit ng Buhay” was a tribute concert to honor the Philippines most famous composer.
The show was a concept to the award-winning Filipino trio, Three of a Kind, the same set of talented singers who opened the show with “Kay Ganda Ng Ating Musika” (…How beautiful is our own music…”). Three of a Kind’s Annie Nepomuceno and Ed Nepomuceno rotated throughout the evening in the role of narrator for the telling of the story of Ryan Cayabyab’s life through the composer’s own musical works, while Gelo Francisco served brilliantly as the shows musical director.
Erwin Andaya plays the adult Cayabyab who leaves his small town to make his way in the world. He meets a girl (Lara Avengoza) that immediately catches his eyes, but has to work up the courage to approach her. Once he does, however, the rest is easy. They have fallen in love and eventually wed.
Later in life they have a son (Edsel Godwin Sotiangco) and are living out an idyllic life, until financial woes set in. Mama must go away to find would, rattling the young family with sadness and uncertainty. However, once the business market in the Philippines picks up, Mama can return to her family, now knowing she will find work at home. Reunited, the family sings in rejoicing.
The award for showmanship, hands down, goes to Edsel Godwin Sotiangco who played the son of fictional Cayabyab as Ryan’s son. Sotiangco’s energetic, spirited open to the second act was hampered by a malfunctioning microphone. He went two verses, just singing and dancing away, until a working microphone could be brought to him on stage. The show must go on and he did without missing a beat. Edsel’s mic was working perfectly for his melancholy solo “Mama (is a Maid in London)”. This young man displayed astounding mature in his performance and vocal ability. His numbers were electrifying, hopeful and the highlight of the evening for me.
Special participation of Kultura Philippine Folk Arts in the way of modern dance was also a wonderful nuance to a night devoted to cultural heritage and pride in the Filipino community – both at home and on their home away from home.
I do feel obligated to mention that I do not speak Tagalog. I brought a friend and she only caught half of it though it was presented mostly in her native tongue. However, sentiments and emotions were clearly conveyed through musical numbers that were both moving and festive. It was quite an enjoyable evening of cultural exchange through song.