There is no age limit to discovering new things, to learning new skills, to reinventing yourself. National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab taught me this recently when he opened his first art exhibition last month. Yes, that’s right. The Maestro also paints, and he does a mean job of it.
Well into his 60s, Mr. C, as he is fondly called by friends and industry colleagues, reunited with paint, brush, and canvas to create beautiful works of art. His journey in visual arts started in his teens, having won third prize in the YMCA National Painting Contest in 1968, but this was relegated to the sidelines as he pursued a career in music. He would do the occasional doodle, but nothing really serious.
Until the Covid-19 pandemic struck, and he suddenly found himself with a lot of time on his hands. He got acquainted with acrylic paint, a medium he has never used before, and found himself so fascinated with it that he could not stop painting. Fast forward to 2023: he is all over the place again, busy with gigs left and right, with little to no time for painting. However, he has already created enough pieces to hold an exhibit, so that was exactly what he did.
“[There is] no profound reason why I want to put up an exhibit. I just want to show a collection of art pieces that reflect my current state of expression, after re-discovering color and texture in the visual arts,” Cayabyab said.
Tunay na Ligaya
Dubbed “Tunay na Ligaya,” after one of his well loved songs, the exhibit showcased 53 pieces curated by artist Nell Belgado. From October 21 to November 5, the artworks were displayed for the public to enjoy at the Power Plant Mall in Rockwell, Makati.
The 53 art pieces were divided into seven collections: “Red” in bold sunset hues; “Estilo” in geometric neoplasticism; “Riprap” in the use of model paste; “Hardin” in vivid, bursting florals; “Dreams” in fluid color play; “Explorations” in modernist lines and strokes; and the “Eyefie” series, a 16-part collection inspired by the Maestro’s 16 voices in his “One” album from 1981.
The opening of the exhibit last October 21 was a feast for both eyes and ears, with musical performances by the choral ensemble from The Music School of Ryan Cayabyab, conducted by no less than Mr. C’s wife Emmy, and the Ryan Cayabyab Singers. The Maestro himself accompanied them on the piano.
Federico “Piki” Lopez, Chair and CEO of First Philippine Holdings Inc. and President of the orchestral music foundation Ang Misyon, and Lilia de Lima, former Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director General, delivered heartwarming messages.
Mr. C sits on the board of Ang Misyon, which aims to make orchestral music more accessible through its Orchestra of the Filipino Youth. De Lima, on the other hand, used to study voice in the Cayabyabs’ music school, and through that has developed a deep friendship with the couple.
In his speech, Lopez zeroed in on Mr. C’s evolution as an artist, on how he continued to learn and develop despite everything that he has already achieved in his life.
“During the pandemic, a lot of us found the extra time at home to hone undeveloped talents and explore our inner child. Ryan returned to his early love for painting. And just when we thought we had seen the depth of his talents, we see him continually learning, evolving, and adding the visual arts to his arsenal of creativity,” Lopez said. “With this new layer, he likes to say that it deepens his understanding and love of all his other creative forms of expression as well, particularly music. I’m personally excited to see the new pathways it will take him to as an artist.”
De Lima, for her part, shared that Mr. C’s foray back into the visual arts was an inspiration for her to go back to painting herself, a hobby that she has set aside over the years because of her busy schedule. She added that this exhibit was proof that there was no age limit to exploring new things, especially when that exploration was driven by passion.
“I saw a brief clip of him painting and advising others to ‘dig into your inner selves and see what your other passions are. There are still so many things that we can do. There is no age limit to what we can do.’ Great advice! Even seniors like us can still do so much,” she said.
“Maestro and painter Ryan Cayabyab used the word ‘passions.’ He did not use the word ‘inclinations’ or ‘interests.’ I think that is his secret: his passion in everything he does. He is multi-awarded, multi-faceted, outstanding, and extraordinary—because passion spells the difference between mediocrity and excellence. We look forward to more of your excellence, this time in the beautiful world of painting,” she added.
Almost sold out
Just days after the exhibit opened, more than half of the paintings had already been sold, with some buyers getting more than one piece from the collection. Lopez was among those buyers, saying he was “stunned by [Mr. C’s] works and couldn’t resist buying a couple of them.”
Other buyers were, like Lopez, business executives, while some were people who just fell in love with the artworks.
“Tunay na Ligaya” will have a second run on November 10-26, this time at the East Wing of the Estancia Mall in Pasig. Inquiries about the art pieces may be directed to Ma. Dinah Remolacio (email@example.com, contact number: +639985561158).
“It’s clear: despite all his national and international accolades, Ryan’s not done yet and the best is yet to come,” Lopez said.
Mr. C is just a few months shy of celebrating his 70th birthday. He said he is not done with painting yet, although a second exhibit is not something that he is thinking about just yet. All he knows is that his exploration of the visual arts has just restarted and will not stop anytime soon.
PR Matters is a roundtable column by members of the local chapter of the United Kingdom-based International Public Relations Association (Ipra), the world’s premier organization for PR professionals around the world. Abigail L. Ho-Torres is AVP and Head of Customer Experience of Maynilad Water Services Inc. She spent more than a decade as a business journalists before making the leap to the corporate world.
We are devoting a special column each month to answer our readers’ questions about public relations. Please send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.