Ryan Cayabyab

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Template:More citations needed Template:Use mdy dates Template:Short description Template:Infobox person Ryan Cayabyab (born Raymundo Cipriano Pujante Cayabyab; May 4, 1954), also known as Mr. C, is a Filipino musician, composer and conductor. He was the Executive and Artistic Director for several years for the defunct San Miguel Foundation for the Performing Arts. He was named as National Artist of the Philippines for Music in 2018.[1]

His works range from commissioned full-length ballets, theater musicals, choral pieces, a Mass set to unaccompanied chorus, and orchestral pieces, to commercial recordings of popular music, film scores and television specials.

Cayabyab's current project includes the Ryan Cayabyab Singers (RCS), a group of seven young adult singers comparable to his group Smokey Mountain in the early 1990s. After FreemantleMedia decided not to renew the Philippine Idol franchise, Cayabyab transferred to rival show Pinoy Dream Academy (season 2), replacing Jim Paredes as the show's headmaster. PDA 2 started on June 14, 2008. He also became the chairman of the board of judges for GMA Network's musical-reality show To The Top.

He is the executive director of the Philpop MusicFest Foundation Inc., the organization behind the Philippine Popular Music Festival. This songwriting competition for amateurs and professionals puts the spotlight on songwriters and encourages Filipinos to preserve their unique musical identity.

Early life and education

Born Raymundo Cayabyab[2] on May 4, 1954[3] in Santa Cruz, ManilaTemplate:Citation needed, he was among the four children of Alberto Austria Cayabyab and Celerina Venson Pujante. Ryan Cayabyab's mother was an opera singer and a professor at the University of the Philippines's (UP) College of Music. As early as age four, Cayabyab was already having piano lessons from music students boarders while accompanying his mother in the UP campus. He was also often brought to music rehearsals in the Abelardo Hall by his mother. When Cayabyab was six years old, his mother died due to cancer and shortly prior to her death at age 43 requested that the none of her children take up a career in music.[2] According to Cayabyab later in life, that his mother discouraged him and his sibling from pursuing a musical career due to hardship his mother himself experienced as a musician.[4]

After his mother's death, Cayabyab stumbled upon a box full of piano pieces left behind by UP music students using the manuscript to teach himself play the piano. By age 14, he was able to perform Johann Sebastian Bach's preludes and a solo piano reduction of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.[2]

Graduating from high school, at age 15 he was able to secure a job as a pianist of a bank's chorale group. His earnings would later fund his collegiate studies.[4] Cayabyab initially took up a bachelor's degree in business administration major in accounting at the University of the Philippines, Diliman,[2] as a way to honor his mother's request.[4]

In 1972, Cayabyab became involved with the Philippine Madrigal Singers and became acquainted with Victor Laurel who is a reputed film and theater actor at the time, who often worked with actress-singer Nora Aunor. Then-Senator Salvador Laurel taking notice of Cayabyab's talent in music convinced him to pursue collegiate studies in music and offered him a scholarship. With the consent of his father, Cayabyab moved to the UP College of Music the following year.[2][4]

Cayabyab took ten years to graduate from the UP College of Music due to doing tours within that period.[4] He earned a Bachelor of Music, Major in Theory degreeTemplate:Citation needed in 1983.[4]


After graduating from college, he became a full-time professor for the Department of Composition and Music Theory in the UP Diliman for almost two decades.Template:Citation needed

At the turn of the 21st century, Cayabyab was considering a move to migrate abroad with his family. Danding Cojuangco (President of the San Miguel Corporation) offered him a position to produce and perform new music to add to the Philippine music scene; Cayabyab accepted the offer as Executive and Artistic Director of the San Miguel Foundation for the Performing Arts. He served there for several years until the sudden closure of the foundation.Template:Citation needed

As music director, conductor and accompanist, Cayabyab has performed in the United States with leading Philippine music figures, at venues including Avery Fisher Hall in the Lincoln Center in New York City; Carnegie Hall (both the Main and Recital halls) in New York; the Kennedy Center and the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.; the Shrine in Los Angeles; the Orpheum in Vancouver; and Circus Maximus of Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip.

He has traveled as music director in most of the Southeast Asian cities, in the cities of Australia as well as in (Germany), France, Spain, the Netherlands, Japan, and the United States. He has worked in the same shows with Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra, as well as conducted the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra for special performances of American jazz singer Diane Schuur and pianist Jim Chappel.

He has performed as music director in command performances for King Hasan II in Rabat, Morocco, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia of Spain in Manila, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in Tangiers, Queen Beatrix at the Noordeinde Palace in the Netherlands, and U.S. President Bill Clinton in Boston, Massachusetts.

In Manila, he has conducted the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines for a concert of Philippine and American contemporary music; and the Manila Chamber Orchestra for a concert of his original works.

Cayabyab only wrote at least three songs in the 2010s, due to focusing on promoting Original Pilipino Music for most of the period. In 2020, due to the idle time caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cayabyab was able to write at least ten songs in 2020 alone, two of which was made available in Spotify.[5]


Cayabyab composed a jingle for an advertisement of a softdrink brand Sarsi, entitled "Sarsi: Angat sa Iba" (Sarsi: Different from Others) in 1989. The commercial became the most creative TV ad of that year.

Under collaboration with Philippine fruit juice brand Locally, Cayabyab did the composition for "Prutas Pilipinas" a 2020 contemporary folk song which featured fruits cultivated in the Philippines. The lyrics was written by Noel Ferrer and the song was performed by The Company.[6]


Ryan Ryan Musikahan, the television show, has won a total of fourteen awards as Best Television Musical Show and for Cayabyab, the Best Show Host in various television award-giving bodies. Likewise, as an artist, producer, arranger, and composer, he has won a total of eighteen awards from the recording industry for various commercial recordings. He has produced albums of the popular Filipino teen group Smokey Mountain, Broadway and West End's diva, Lea Salonga, and Spain's internationally acclaimed singer Julio Iglesias.

In 1987 he composed and rearranged the classical tinged version of ABS-CBN jingle, which was used in the network's Station ID from 1987-1995. He also composed the "ABS-CBN Millennium Overture", which was used in the ABS-CBN New Millennium Station ID in 2000.


Among his many works, his theater musicals Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo have won acclaim and have been performed extensively in the cities of Japan in 1994 and 1996. They received a special NHK broadcast in November 1996, and in Kuala Lumpur in the same year. Another musicale, Magnificat, has had nearly 200 performances. To date, he has composed the music for 15 original musicals, an opera, four dance productions, and a musical teleplay.[7]

Cayabyab composed the sung-through musical “Ang Larawan,” based on National Artist Nick Joaquin’s play “Portrait of the Artist as Filipino,” with libretto and direction by Rolando Tinio, who also became National Artist. For “Ang Larawan,” Cayabyab requested to hear a reading by actors of the full libretto before he started composing. The musical proved to be very successful, spawning an equally successful and award-winning film version directed by Loy Arcenas.[7]

His other popular musicals include Katy (words by Jose Javier Reyes), Alikabok, Ilustrado and the classic pop-ballet Rama Hari (words by 2006 National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera). Katy would become Caybyab’s most famous musical in the 1980s. With a libretto by Jose Javier Reyes and directed by Nestor Torre, it is based on the life of the “Queen of Philippine Vaudevile and Jazz”, Katy de La Cruz.[7]

His latest opera, Spoliarium (libretto by Fides Cuyugan-Asensio), premiered in February 2003 at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo of the CCP, and is to be followed by another opera also with Asensio, Mariang Makiling at Ang Mga Nuno sa Punso, with music also by Ryan Cayabyab.

Cayabyab also wrote an original dance score for Ballet Philippines’ La Revolucion Filipina (choreographed by Agnes Locsin, libretto by this Dennis Marasigan) and for Ballet Manila's Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin.[7]

In 2011, he lent his genius once more by composing music for the concert Ageless Passion (libretto by Kristian Jeff Agustin), which was commissioned by the family of retired Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, and staged at the Meralco theater. In 2016, "Ageless Passion" was staged as a full musical, reuniting Cayabyab and Agustin.

LORENZO, a musical on the life of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, also showcases music composed and arranged by Cayabyab. LORENZO started its runs in September 2013.


Cayabyab composed "Mabuhay", the opening song of Miss Universe 1994 pageant, held in Manila, Philippines.

In 2005, Cayabyab composed the official soundtrack for the 23rd edition of the Southeast Asian Games in Manila.

In 2006, Cayabyab signed on as a resident judge for the first season of Philippine Idol, offering critiques for the contestants on the reality-talent show. He was chosen by the top guns of Philippine Idol, while the other two judges, Pilita Corrales and the late Francis Magalona, had to undergo auditions. He also composed the themes of TV Patrol and The World Tonight in 1993 and it was used until 1996 for TV Patrol (The World Tonight has since been using his composed theme from 1996 up to now).

In 2019, Cayabyab composed the theme song for the 30th edition of the Southeast Asian Games, "We Win as One"; with lyrics by playwright Floy Quintos, and sung by Lea Salonga.[8][9][10][11]


Ryan Cayabyab is 2004's Gawad CCP para sa Sining in MUsic. On February 2, 1999, he was selected as one of the 100 awardees of the CCP Centennial Honors for the Arts . He became the first recipient of the Antonio C. Barreiro Achievement Award on May 4, 1996 for significant and lasting contributions to the growth and development of Filipino music. Likewise, on June 18, 1996, Awit Awards, the recording industry awards, awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award for "invaluable contribution and outstanding achievements in the promotion and development of Filipino music." The University of the Philippines Alumni Association has conferred upon him the Professional Award in music for the year 1998. In 2012, Ryan won the prestigious MYX Magna Award in the Myx Music Awards 2012 for his achievements in music and in the OPM industry.

Ryan Cayabyab The Music Studio, a music school that specializes in developing outstanding performance artists is run by Emmy Cayabyab, Ryan's wife. Established in 1986, the music studio has trained a whole generation of young singer-performers who have become nationally known Filipino performing artists.


Ryan Cayabyab was also the Executive and Artistic Director of the San Miguel Foundation for the Performing Arts for several years. He was the conductor of the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra (SMPO) and the San Miguel Master Chorale (SMMC). Under his direction, the SMPO and the SMMC recorded seven award-winning albums to date: Great Filipino Love Songs (2004), Great Original Pilipino Music by Ryan Cayabyab (2004), The Sacred Works of Ryan Cayabyab (2004), Pasko I and Pasko II (2005), Great Original Pilipino Music from the Movies (2006), and Dancing in the Rain (2006).

But in a swift and silent move, the big bosses of the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) have already disbanded the SMMC and the SMPO. Late January 2007, instrumentalists of the SMPO and SMMC were summoned one by one by the big bosses who informed them of the non-renewal of their contracts. Insider reports say that the SMC was "more inclined" on supporting its four professional basketball teams.

Cayabyab said that he considered the experience with San Miguel as a learning one. The following are excerpts from the said interview by Rito Asilo of The Inquirer.

The experience proved that it could work – because it did in our case! I learned so much from it. I still wouldn't consider the group world-class, but we were getting there!

Five years is too short a time to build a good reputation. But, I didn't really see any malice in the management's decision to pull the plug. It might have had something to do with the viability of the company – there may have been a clamor from inside to cut the umbilical cord. And, I understand that they also have to answer to their stockholders. Perhaps this is something you need to ask them yourself.

National Artist of the Philippines

In 2018, Ryan Cayabyab was proclaimed National Artist of the Philippines for his contribution to Filipino music.[1]

Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation

In September 2019, the Ramon Magsaysay Award was presented to Cayabyab – the only Filipino among the honorees in 2019 – recognizing him for "showing us all that music can indeed instill pride and joy, and unify people across the many barriers that divide them."

Personal life

Cayabyab married Emmy Punsalan in 1985.[12] They have two children named Cristina María and Antonio María.[13]


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As composer

Feature films
Year Title Director Notes Ref
1973 Ophelia and Paris [14]
1977 Mga Bilanggong Birhen [14]
1980 Aguila [14]
1991 Hihintayin Kita sa Langit Carlos Siguion-Reyna [14]
1997 Ligaya ang Itawag Mo sa Akin [14]
2016 Ignacio de Loyola Paolo Dy Score [15]
2017 Ang Larawan Loy Arcenas Full-length musical [16][17][18]
Studio albums
Year Album Label Notes and remarks Ref
1981 One Arranged by Ryan Cayabyab. Collection of Filipino song in a capella. Includes original composition "Kay Ganda Ng Ating Musika". [4]
1991 Paraiso Sony BMG Arranged by Ryan Cayabyab. Performed by Smokey Mountain
1991 One Christmas Ivory Arranged by Ryan Cayabyab. Collection of Filipino christmas songs and carols in a capella. Includes original christmas composition "Kumututikutitap"


Year Title Role Network Notes Ref
1988–1995 Ryan Ryan Musikahan Host ABS-CBN [14]
2006 Philippine Idol Judge ABC [4]
2008 Pinoy Dream Academy Season Two Headmaster ABS-CBN


Ryan Cayabyab is a recipient of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice in 2013. Pope Francis awarded him the highest papal award for Laity for his many contributions in the field of religious-themed compositions and sacred works. Among his ecclesiastical works are, "Eclesiastes" for choir and piano, his first large religious composition; "Misa" for unaccompanied choir; stage musicals like "Magnificat," “Birhen ng Caysasay" and, "Lorenzo;" and church songs such as or "I Believe in Peace," “The Prophet," “Asin ng Pamayanan," “Live Christ, Share Christ," and "Icthus" in St. John's Mass.[19]

He is also a TOYM (Ten Outstanding Young Men) awardee for contemporary Filipino music in 1978. He won the Grand Prize award at the first Metro Manila Popular Music Festival for the song "Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika".

He received in September 2019 the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, highlighting "his compositions and performances that have defined and inspired Filipino popular music across generations...", being cited, among other achievements, "that have defined and inspired Filipino popular music across generations."

Year Award Giving Body Category Nominated Work Results
1981 Gawad Urian Best Music (Pinakamahusay na Musika) "Iduyan Mo" (Aguila) Template:Nominated
1993 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Music "Kung Mawawala Ka Pa"
2018 Asia Pacific Screen Awards Best Original Score Ang Larawan Template:Nominated
2020 5th Wish 107.5 Music Awards The KDR Icon of Musical Excellence Award Template:N/A


  1. 1.0 1.1 Aguilar, Krissy. "Ryan Cayabyab is now National Artist for Music". 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Music giant Ryan Cayabyab met his career by chance", Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 11, 2017. (in en) 
  3. "Ryan Cayabyab releases new song ‘Kapit Lahat’ for 66th birthday", Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 5, 2020. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 "Ryan Cayabyab is still making the soundtrack of our lives", CNN Philippines, December 28, 2018. 
  5. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named fifty
  6. "Finally, a Filipino folk song about local fruits", The Manila Times, October 11, 2020. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Marasigan, Dennis. "Ryan Cayabyab: Blessed with greatness of talent, yet his heart throbs with humility", Philippine Daily Inquirer. 
  8. Parungao, Regina Mae. "Three PH Gems Working on 2019 SEA Games Theme Song", The Manila Bulletin, Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation, August 8, 2019. 
  9. "Cayabyab, Salonga, Quintos work ‘as one’ in official theme song of 2019 SEA Games", 3 September 2019. 
  10. "Ryan Cayabyab and Lea Salonga launch 2019 SEA Games theme song ‘We Win as One’", 6 September 2019. 
  11. Go, Beatrice. "WATCH: 2019 SEA Games launches theme song by Ryan Cayabyab", 11 July 2019. 
  12. Salterio, Leah C. (2020-12-21). Ryan Cayabyab's daughter Krina weds 'El Bimbo' actor Stephen Viñas (en).
  13. https://lifestyle.inquirer.net/364704/mr-c-in-the-eyes-of-his-kids-krina-and-toma/
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 "Mr. C on writing his hits, Doy Laurel’s life-changing advice, and the wisdom of George Canseco", ANCX, August 25, 2019. 
  15. Order of National Artists: Ryan Cayabyab. National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
  16. Kuipers, Richard. "Tokyo Film Review: 'The Portrait'", October 31, 2017. 
  17. "'Ang Larawan' to have world premiere at Tokyo film fest", ABS-CBN News, September 27, 2017. 
  18. "Ang Larawan, The Musical’ makes the leap from stage to screen", Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 6, 2015. 
  19. Papal award is a gratifying affirmation for Ryan Cayabyab. Philippine Daily Inquirer.

External links

Template:National Artists of the Philippines Template:Authority control