National artist and Pilipino music icon Raymundo Pujante Cayabyab has been awarded the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award which is considered as the Asian version of the Nobel Prize. One of four siblings, Cayabyab was born in Manila. His father was a government employee and his mother used to teach music and was also an opera singer.
“In electing Raymundo Pujante Cayabyab to receive the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes his compositions and performances that have defined and inspired Filipino popular music across generations; his indomitable, undeterred confidence to selflessly seek, mentor and promote young Filipino musical genius for the global stage; and his showing us all that music can indeed instil pride and joy, and unify people across the many barriers that divide them”, read the artist’s citation.
— Ramon Magsaysay Award (@MagsaysayAward) August 2, 2019
Cayabyab has served on the music faculty of the University of the Philippines, runs a music studio with his wife, and has conducted free workshops for thousands of students across the country. He started to write music in the late 1970s, making his mark when his signature song Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika (“How Beautiful is Our Music”) won the grand prize in the first Metro Manila popular music festival in 1978, and in an international song festival in South Korea in the same year.
Other winners of the prestigious prize include journalist Ravish Kumar, Myanmar-based journalist Ko Swe Win, Angkhana Neelapaijit from Thailand, and Kim Jong Ki from South Korea.
Named after Ramon del Fierro Magsaysay, the third president of the Republic of the Philippines after World War II, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s premier and highest honour. Started in 1957, the Magsaysay award celebrates the memory and leadership example of the former Philippine president and is given every year to individuals or organisations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late and beloved Filipino leader.