Singing of Heartbreak and Moving On, Ferdinand Aragon Wins Big at the Visayan Music Awards

A heartbreaking ballad, MATAG PIRASO, composed and interpreted by freelance graphic and visual artist Ferdinand Aragon, won the hearts of the judges and everyone in the audience last Saturday at the Visayan Music Awards Finals Night as he was named as its first Grand Prize winner. Ferdinand considers himself a storyteller and Matag Piraso is one of the stories he tells for the brokenhearted wanting to pick up the pieces after the pain in order to love again.

It’s one of those perfect sad songs that don’t just give you that kind of hugot – that thug in your heart while listening to it but the emotion that it evokes on every note. Then as the song hits its climactic note, it gives you this glimmer of hope that in time, all the pieces that have been broken in the past will be whole again.

Ten finalists performed a live rendition of their Visayan songs of love, heartache, peer pressure, and loneliness accompanied by the Cebu Philharmonic Orchestra at the Oakridge Pavilion, Mandaue City. 

TV personality Giselle Sanchez and former ABS-CBN Cebu talent OJ Cimafranca did a splendid job hosting the VizMA Finals Night.

Visayan Music Awards Finals Night Hosts TV personality Giselle Sanchez and OJ Cimafranca, a former ABS-CBN Cebu talent
Cebuana singer-songwriter Karencitta danced and sang her famous hits, Cebuana and BamBamBam
BAHANDI LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS Visayan music icon Max Surban​ and Msgr. Rudy Villanueva (not in the photo) are two of the recipients of the Bahandi Lifetime Achievement Awards for their great contribution to the Visayan Music industry.

The Second Prize song, BALITAW, is written by the Ohio-based father-daughter duo, Adonis and Yana Durado and interpreted by Atty. Georg Laurente and Dane Smith. Balitaw was originally written by Yana in English and was later translated to Cebuano with lyric revisions by Adonis. The song’s inspiration stemmed when Yana had a crush on someone, and she felt like serenading him. The song’s poetic and metaphorical connection between love and music will make everyone want to fall in love.

LINGI-A, composed by Electrical Engineer Melay Libres and interpreted by Mix Fenix, won Third Prize. The song talks about the longing for someone’s glance, even for a moment. That one eye contact could change everything, or it could simply be just a passing moment. 

HIT AND RUN, composed by Neil Salarda and John Peterson Villarin and interpreted by Chingkie Maylon, Jake Batiencela, and Markee, won the Texters’ Choice Award. 

Gail Blanco, who interpreted Sama Lang Kanimo, composed by Fr. Reymund Quito, won the Best Interpreter Award. 

Days after the Finals Night, I was able to chat with the winners and they were so kind as to indulge me with some questions about their whole VizMA experience. The top three composers were still in bliss when I asked them how they felt when they won in the songwriting competition.

Ferdinand felt truly happy being named the first Visayan Music Awards Grand Prize winner. According to him, it is not just a victory but also an opportunity to be heard. He’s also thankful to all those who supported and appreciated his song.

Upon learning of the news, Yana is very ecstatic to win the second prize being that it was her first attempt in joining a songwriting competition. She mentioned that being one of the top three is such a great achievement for her and she’s happy that she and her father got the opportunity to share and contribute to Visayan music.

As for Melay, she didn’t expect for her song, Lingi-a to finish in the top three in the first-ever VizMA. She finds it rewarding to be in the top ten and bagging the third place is something surreal for her. In fact, she’s still waiting for everything to sink in. “I also received tons of love from the people who believed in me since day one and grabe maka-full sa heart. It’s so hard to describe (Miss) but mora kog gibayaw ang akong kasing-kasing sa panganod,” added Melay.

Beyee (B): What are your plans after VizMA?

Ferdinand Aragon (F): I will most definitely continue to write and release music and continue to help make Bisaya Music more accepted throughout the whole Philippines and the world.  (His winning piece is already available in Spotify: Matag Piraso)

Yana Durado (Y): I plan to continue making music and hopefully join more competitions, as well. My Dad said he’s very happy as well. He says he wants to join more competitions as well and possibly collaborate with other musicians.

Melay Libres (M): After VizMA, I plan to release more songs independently. I’ve been doing this actually since 2017. I’ll low key release singles on all streaming and music sites like Spotify and iTunes. I actually have three songs out now and I plan to add more. I’m originally from Bohol and there I managed to submit my singles on the radio. I am hopeful that I can do the same thing here in Cebu since I plan to stay and build my career here. I will also continue my thesis because I’m working on my master’s degree at USC. (Catch her songs in Spotify: Melay Libres)

B: What’s your message to those aspiring songwriters and musicians?

F: Start writing. Keep on writing. Even though your song seems bad, and maybe it is, remember that no one starts good. Those bad songs have to be written in order for the good ones to come.

Y: Really focus on creating and honing your craft because success will follow suit. I also think that being unique and authentic will definitely help you stand out from the crowd.

M: For aspiring songwriters out there, I can’t really tell much since I’m still a newbie myself and I have a lot of room to improve on but songwriting doesn’t have a formula. Formula is a myth. Always write from the heart and keep writing. You have no idea how many songs I wrote before Lingi-a came. It’s not a one-time big-time thing. As you write, you improve and it’s important to keep the passion burning. Good luck and join next year’s VizMA.

The Special Awardees received a plaque and the Grand Prize Winner, Second Prize Winner & the Third Prize Winner received a trophy specially designed by world-class furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue and cash prizes of Php100,000; Php 75,000 and Php 50,000, respectively. While the fourth to tenth placers received Php 10,000 each.

All the ten finalists went home with a scholarship worth Php 150,000 from Thames International’s Innovation and Creative Enterprise Program (ICE).

VizMa is organized by the Sacred Heart School for Boys Batch 1985 Foundation Inc., and endorsed by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, with a goal to recognize men and women who have played an important role in the promotion of the Visayan language, culture, and music.

The Visayan Music Awards night was indeed a celebration of a treasure trove of Visayan talent and gift of music which everyone can relate to. True enough, songwriting competitions like VizMA provide a good venue for the Visayan artists to write more beautiful music and a perfect tool for Visayan music to flourish and make waves not only in the Philippines but also all over the world.



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