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Rediscovering Joey Ayala: Sensible, inspiring artist-educator


No, I am not a newbie to the so-called alternative music, fact is, I bask on it, being my kind of music and Joey Ayala was and still my hero.

Even more so when I met him decades ago at a national artists and cultural workers conference at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP-Manila). I arrived late and sat at the last row alone when a tall guy sat beside me and had a small. When the next speaker was called, he stood up and walked to the front. I knew it! It was Joey I was talking to! This fan was thrilled.

I earlier heard his songs when I started hanging out with Mindanaoan artists and cultural workers. Those songs to my mind were poetry to me.

We kept playing them on cassette recorder and even singing along with community-based theater practitioners like Titing Trinquite, who obviously idolized the Davao City-based singer.Songs like “Haring Ibon,” “Walang hanggang paalam,” “Saan ka patungo panganay ko,” “Wala ng tao sa Sta Filomena”and some others.

It’s been a long time since I sang along and heard the songs until this recent at YouTube. I accidentally saw his “How Lupang Hinirang ought to be sang” and “How I became a native” video engagements which were remarkable and I should thank god for the opportunity.

Both are inspiring and affirming even if it was held a couple of years back. All artists in whatever degrees and levels should see them and learn from it.

It was truly refreshing to encounter an intelligent artist of originality unlike and different from other run-of-the-mill trying hard mainstream vocalists. Joey is more just an entertainer but a cool, trailblazing performer who educates his audience.

The son of a poet-writer parents from Bukidnon and Davao, he is respectfully known as the country’s leading artist in world music, a term referred to musicians who devote their artistry to tribal and country inspired hymns with elevated universal appeal but reflecting one’s identity and integrity.

The talks and songs on video should appeal aspiring artists who meant well by sharpening their craft and not just become one of the many so-called talents empty and devoid of originality and vision.

What they need to know is to possess a real artistic spirit.

Photo courtesy of Megabites

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