Iloilo City Government Backs National Artist Push for Ilonggo Violinist

Violin virtuoso Gilopez Lopez Kabayao’s unparalleled feats will resonate deeply with young Ilonggo aspirants now more than ever following the artist’s official nomination in the “Order of the National Artist.”

The City Government recently firmed up Kabayao’s nomination through a resolution by the Iloilo City Local Culture and Arts Council (ICLCAC), acknowledging the artist as a conduit between the skills of the past and the future.

This was after various cause-oriented organizations in the city, represented by the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc., enjoined the City Government’s support in cultivating a deeper appreciation for local talent.

The Order of National Artists is the highest honorary title given to Filipinos who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts, jointly administered by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Cultural Center of the Philippines and conferred by the President of the Philippines.

Mayor Jerry P. Treñas, on his part, said Kabayao’s contributions, particularly in violin mastery, have a deep lasting impact on our cultural heritage. And with the City Government being one of the custodians of the nation’s cultural legacy, the endorsement is also a celebration of the rich artistry of the Filipinos, he added.

According to City Planning and Development Coordinator Ronald Cartagena, who is also ICLCAC Executive Director and Secretariat, Kabayao is indeed a pride of Iloilo.

“His National Artist nomination highlights the contribution of an Ilonggo to local and international music,” he said.

Born in Negros Occidental, Kabayao has Ilonggo roots and is currently settled in Molo, Iloilo City.

On March 18, 1950, he was the first Filipino to be invited and performed at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York City, showcasing to the world the earmarks of a true virtuoso at the young age of 19.

Kabayao is known by many names — “Mozart to the Barrios”, “Father of Outreach for Classical Music”, and “Traveling Salesman of Music” — all of which underscore the artist’s passion for bringing classical music closer to the masses.

His shows included holding concerts and lecture recitals in schools and unconventional places such as dilapidated basketball courts, rural cockpits, hospital corridors, marketplaces, mountain villages, and coastal areas from Aparri to Jolo.

His international travels also promoted global understanding and strengthened relations between the Philippines and other countries. A few of these were when Kabayao was invited as the first-ever Filipino violin soloist to perform with the Japanese orchestra post-war and was entrusted to organize the first Singapore orchestra. (Pearl Rylene Mae Socias/Iloilo City PIO)

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