Voice of Praise
by Pam Estalilla
June 15, 2010
“Awiti ang Ginoo og bagong awit,” are the opening lines of Psalm 98 in Cebuano, which means “Sing a new song unto the Lord”. Ironically, while the majority of people perk up to hear the latest pop or R n’ B songs on the radio, they are rarely acquainted with the latest in liturgical music- the songs we actually do sing “unto the Lord”.
Understandably, the Cebuano church-going public often prefers to stick to the familiar mass repertoire that they know by heart and can sing along to. And truly, a lot of these are beautiful songs by foreign composers that also regale churches and cathedrals around the world. But what a pity to limit ourselves to this same old line-up, when there are equally majestic songs that are not as weather-worn, written by a homegrown composer, and in our very own dialect.
This “homegrown composer” is Msgr. Rudolfo Villanueva, known more popularly as Fr. Rudy Villanueva. His local and international training are responsible for his strong musical foundation, and his personal taste (which spans musical genres) coupled with his innate creativity results in songs that are world-class. The music is much like the man himself- witty and unexpected, thought-provoking, complex in parts- a mosaic of contrasting elements that come together to form a serious work of art.
The album is “Way Sukod ang Pagmahal: the Words and Music of Fr. Rudy Villanueva”, recorded by the Voices of Praise Carmel choir (VOP) as a loving tribute to their mentor. It is a collection of the group’s favorites among his songs in their own interpretation. While it may, at first glance, appeal to people with more maturity in musical preference, VOP hopes to reach out to the Visayan youth and open their eyes to the beauty of our own music. All the old gems are dusted off and given brand-new arrangements from the perspectives of different musicians throughout the country. The result? A delightful collaboration of the old and the new, of diverse artists like internationally-renowned Michael Dadap and popular diva Raki Vega, all set to choral music and intense orchestration.
But what it is really all about, as the title proclaims, is love. And every song in the album takes us to the soul and the many aspects of it- love that is overflowing and without measure, love that is restful and comforting, love that inspires one to sacrifice, forgive, obey, and rejoice. The same love that inspired the making of the album, which was recorded not only as a tribute, but to benefit the Carmelite Monastery and the street children of Cebu.
“Way Sukod ang Pagmahal: The Words and Music of Fr. Rudy Villanueva” is now available for sale at BisayaBulletin.com.