Ryan Cayabyab Singers rock PH Independence Day fest in SF

WATCH: Ryan Cayabyab Concert and Gala Reception in San Francisco. VIC VALBUENA BARENG


SAN FRANCISCO – Glorious musical performances by one of the Philippines’ top vocal ensembles highlighted the back-to-back celebratory events in this city for the 119th anniversary of Philippine Independence.

KalayaanSF, in collaboration with the Philippine Consulate General, presented Maestro Ryan Cayabyab and the Ryan Cayabyab Singers — composed of Poppert Bernadas, Kaich Tiuseco, Erwin Lacsa, Celine Fabie, VJ Caber, Nica Tupas and Anthony Castillo — at a concert at the Marines Memorial Theater in downtown San Francisco, on Friday, June 16.


The group delivered a virtuoso act. The audience, mostly attired in barongs and ternos, applauded all the songs that brought them back to their youth perhaps, or recalled requited or unrequited loves. The RC Singers’ repertoire ran from the ‘50s  “Waray-Wary, No Money No Honey and Galawgaw” to the playful ‘60s with Buchekik, Sweet 16 and Mr. Lonely, among others. The ‘70s Disco fave “Awitin mo, Sumayaw Sumunod, Rock Baby Rock, Katawan and Legs Legs Legs” and nostalgic ‘80s English OPM “Never Ever Say Goodbye” segued to the ‘90s Francis Magalona hi, “Mga Kababayan Ko,” the poignant “Sirena,” and “Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas.” The finale was a jaw-dropping excerpt from one of Cayabyab’s operas, “Spoliarium,” based on the tragic life of internationally acclaimed artist Juan Luna.

Mga Bayani Ng Bayan

Prior to the concert, five 2019 KalayaanSF Community Heroes (Bayani ng Bayan) were presented by Consul General Henry S. Bensurto Jr, and KalayaanSF Chair, Radi Calalang with trophies for their lasting contribution and involvement in the community.

They were Eloise Scott, Bayani ng Bayan sa Larangan ng Pampamayang Pagliligkod (Public Service), Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara, Bayani ng Bayan sa Larangan ng Sining (Arts-Film Making), Dr. Ben de Lumen, Bayani ng Bayan sa Larangan ng Agham (Sciences), Atty. Lou Tancinco, Bayani ng Bayan sa Larangan ng Paglilingkod sa mga Beterano (Service to Veterans), and Bernadette Borja Sy, Bayani ng Bayan sa Larangan ng Panlipunang Paglilingkod (Community Service.)

Gala Reception

A gala reception followed with the traditional, Spanish-influenced Filipino quadrille known as “Rigodon de Honor” choreographed by Johnny Veloso. Participants were led by Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon and Atty. Lou Tancinco; Delia Merano was escorted by Renz Marion Katigbak; Elizabeth Espinda by Ben Enverga; Henni Espinosa by William Tan; Marian Castillo by Fernando Briosos; Marilyn Albert by Anthony Valdez; and Genevieve Jopanda escorted by Edwin Lozada.

On Sunday, an open-air festival at the world-famous Union Square featured sponsored booths, a Marketplace, regional dances, martial arts, pop dances and performing artists on the plaza.


To cap the week-long celebration that started with flag raising at the San Francisco City Hall, the TFC Hour featured a 30-minute fun and upbeat concert by by Maestro Ryan Cayabyab and the RC Singers. The crowd, wearing red KalayaanSF bandanas around hats, arms, waists, or heads, and already standing on their feet throughout the concert, gave the group a rousing ovation.


Spark-Connect and Empower

Part and parcel of celebrating Philippine Independence with more funfare than in the motherland itself is to inculcate in young Filipinos a love for their culture. With this mind, the Consulate together with the KalayaanSF Committee embarked on a movement to “Spark, Connect and Empower” the Filipino-American community.

Consul General Henry Bensurto said in his opening speech that, “this involves providing platforms to project Filipino culture and heritage to the larger community, in the hope that it will spark pride and curiosity among the younger generations of Filipino-Americans about their Filipino roots, and move them to connect with another in the US, including their elders, and with the country of origin of their ancestors, the Philippines.”

Bensurto further stated that Filipino Americans become the “new vanguards of our culture and heritage and of a more united (though diverse) and empowered Filipino American community – able to contribute more to the greater community here in the US and back home in the Philippines.”  The younger generation of Filipino Americans will eventually fortify the foundation of people to people ties between the US and the Philippines, he added.

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TAGS: Filipino singing group, Filipino songs, Original Pilipino Music, rigodon de honor, Ryan Cayabyab singers, San Francisco Philippine Independence Day celebration 2017
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