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Himaya music relatable across audiences

May 16, 2019

Himaya, a Cebuano term meaning praise in English or papuri in Tagalog, is also the name of a band founded by rocker-preacher Alvin Barcelona.

The band is a pool of talented musicians that continues to evolve from a “praise and worship” band to a secular pop-rock band. Members include Barcelona’s son Aio in vocals and guitar, 16-year-old drummer Gab Espinosa, keyboardist Jeric Mison, bassist Matthew Perez and vocalist-lead guitarist Mike Nuez.

Barcelona has been a long-time singer-songwriter-musician, concert and recording artist since his days with the legendary Freddie Aguilar. He is also a vocalist-multi instrumentalist that had recording sessions with the likes of Ogie Alcasid to Maegan Aguilar, to concerts with music icons such as Kuh Ledesma, Rey Valera, Joey Ayala, Bayang Barrios, Top Suzara, Geneva Cruz, and opening acts for Ai-Ai de las Alas, Alden Richards, Coco Martin, and more.

Rocker-preacher Alvin Barcelona (center) headlines the secular pop-rock band Himaya. contributed photo

Probably one of the most enduring and active bands for close to two decades now, Barcelona brings along the band for performances around the country, not limited to church gatherings, but mostly to schools, companies, and secular events with audiences numbering to thousands of people from different ages and walks of life.

“Sa loob nang halos dalawang dekada ng Himaya, hindi po kami nagpapahinga. Nalibot na namin ang bansa. Sa tagal may mga nawawala pero tuloy-tuloy. Except that through the years, the music, the audience, the platform has evolved especially now that we have social media. So now, we found a need to look for new faces and newer sound. With Aio and Gab, we listened more to the sound of today,” Barcelona said in a press conference.

The band covers a wide range of songs from the 1960s to the present genre, from rock ‘n roll to the classics, from pop to ballad, from disco to rock, from reggae to rap, depending on the type and demands of the audience and event, thanks to the versatility, skills, and long musical experience of each member making the band highly unique as the age of each member connects to all age groups, and thus to their tastes in music.

The “father-son” tandem of Alvin and Aio instantly connects to parents and children or adults and millennials. Every event or live performance treats the audience with a complete experience (at times accompanied with full production numbers and even short comedy skits or inspirational messages, when needed and required). Each show always leaves everyone wanting more.

“That’s why we integrate the old and new generation. Nasusukat po namin lahat. With their experience po nila before, we also try to bring something new at pinagsama namin. We try to mix the old and new sound and create something na hindi pa naririnig ng iba. We go to schools, company events and maraming mga kabataan doon. So I think that’s one of our strengths,” Aio noted.

His dad seconded, “Before, we’re into nationalistic and folk songs. We’re also heavily influenced with neo-ethnic genres. Times have indeed changed so we also have to adapt to that. Dati four years old pa lang siya sinasama ko siya sa stage. Ngayon, baliktad na. Siya na ang nag-i-influence sa akin, sa kanya na kami nakikinig. But I really appreciate my son, he also values the sound before, para hindi rin mawala yung originality namin.”

Himaya primarily believes in and promotes OPM or OFM — Original Filipino Music. That is why through the years the band continues to come up with numerous originals with independently produced albums and music videos.

This year, with the encouragement of music icons such as Jose Mari Chan directly telling the older Barcelona to bring out his music to more people, especially to the millennials, and with the continuous secular exposure of the group, The Himaya Band is relaunching and repackaging itself with its music and image, and in social media and live performances, highlighted with the band’s upcoming newest single, “Payakap.” The band has been receiving encouraging breakthroughs since its relaunch.

Under Madhouse Music

Recently, Madhouse Music, founded by another OPM/OFM icon, Rannie Raymundo, took in Himaya under its wings. Himaya just had an unprecedented two-hour live performance radio-streaming that continues to add viewers and listeners up to now. Shows, radio-TV guestings and performances are also lined-up for them.

“I was looking for original sounds. In our radio internet program, we don’t do covers, and it doesn’t matter kung sikat or not. I know it’s ambitious but I think we owe the audience something new na hindi pa natin naririnig. My brother Lance said, ‘Kuya you have to hear Bro. Alvin and Himaya. Of course I got curious and met with them,” Raymundo recalled.

“Then I figured na pareho kami ng adhikain because we believed that the artists have the means to educate the people. The now doesn’t necessarily mean the best, the same like the old is not exactly the best. How we have yet to find what is the best and we will never hear it if there is no venue for them to be heard. I was really happy when I heard the music of Himaya. If you listen and you analyze their songs, it takes you on a journey of decades. That’s the reason why we signed up with them,” he continued.

Himaya’s “Payakap” was officially released along with its music video simultaneously on Spotify, Facebook, Youtube and other social media platforms on May 5. The song is already in the Top 3 list of Madhouse Radio.

Like most original songs written by Barcelona and arranged by Himaya, the song has an inspirational tone but can easily be related to as a “love song” between young lovers, friends, parent to a child, or yes, even between an individual and God. Because of the inclusion of millennial members in the band, the “new” sound has been very warmly and loudly welcomed by millennials in different parts of the country.

“More new originals are upcoming this year for a full new album,” reminded Barcelona.

Indeed, Himaya has its high hopes that more people will be introduced to new, fresh, and Original Filipino Music that will not only entertain but also inspire, move, and even bless the world which, at present, could surely use Himaya’s brand of music.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net


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