Bisaya, both the language and the people speaking the language, can no longer be contained. Bisaya music is now mainstream and, to the surprise of big-name actors in Manila, a Bisaya took a plum role in an international film headlined by established Hollywood stars.
In the field of music, the Bisaya language has gotten attention. First there was “Alindahaw” that won the Grand Prize in the 2020 John Lennon Songwriting. Singer-songwriter Alfa Garcia must have smitten Yoko Ono (I’m not sure if she was one of the judges) by the bossa nova tune with lyrics that go like this: Kanindot nga adlaw/dinhi sa bukid/mga panganod nga daw ka puti/murag cotton candy. I’m sure that the English lyrics, like the Part 2 of the song, boosted its appeal, not to mention the lovely voice of Alfa. It is a timely song as the world grapples with Covid-19. Alfa says: “We all need a getaway when life gets to us and things seem insurmountable. That’s when I think about Mindanao, where I was born, and its coconut trees, clean streams and little dragonflies that fly amid the beauty.”
Just before the Christmas break, Philpop 2020 chose two Bisaya in the top three: grand champion “Suyo,” composed and performed by reon, and 2nd runner-up “Pahuway,” composed by Sherwin Fugoso and performed by Ferdinand Aragon. Fugoso and Aragon are known in the Bisaya music circle. It is reon (Reanne Borela and Noah Alejandre) who surprised everyone, including themselves. Their P1 million win should allow them to make more good stuff. Still fighting to win in the International Songwriting Competition is the song, “Ipanumpa Ko” by Oh! Caraga that has made it to the finals from more than 26,000 entries representing 158 countries throughout the world. Oh! Caraga is made up of Kenneth and Adam Corvera and Sherwin Fugoso. The latter is on a roll as 2nd runner-up in Philpop and 1st runner-up in Minpop (the song, “Buang” interpreted by Jewel Villaflores). In an interview with SunStar Cebu, Adam expressed his love for the Bisaya language: “(It) is something we shouldn’t be ashamed of, but rather it is something we should be proud of. Bisaya is part of our identity. The only way we can gain the attention of the world is when we show our genuine identity with pride through our art. And I think that is what happened here.” Chai Fonacier is known for her Vispop winning song, “Kung Di Pa Ko Buang” and sterling acting in “Patay na si Hesus.” She packed her bags to become a full-fledged artist in Manila and made decent appearances. Surprise, surprise, she’s co-starring with Eva Green and Mark Strong in the psychological thriller “Nocebo.” Her struggles as a Bisaya artist in Manila have finally paid off, and we all wish the best for her! You make us proud, Chai.