Iloilo City gov’t endorses Ilonggo virtuoso violinist for National Artist title

By Mariela Angella Oladive

The Iloilo City Government has endorsed the nomination of renowned violin virtuoso Gilopez Lopez Kabayao for the prestigious “Order of National Artists” title, recognizing his significant contributions to Philippine culture and music.

The Iloilo City Local Culture and Arts Council (ICLCAC), led by City Planning and Development Coordinator Ronald Cartagena, passed a resolution acknowledging Kabayao as “a conduit between the skills of the past and the future.”

The move follows the nomination initiated by the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc. (IDFI) in December 2023.

“His National Artist nomination highlights the contribution of an Ilonggo to local and international music,” the city government said.

Mayor Jerry Treñas emphasized the enduring impact of Kabayao’s contributions to the country’s cultural heritage.

“With the city government being one of the custodians of the nation’s cultural legacy, the endorsement is also a celebration of the rich artistry of the Filipinos,” he said.

Kabayao, born in Negros Occidental with family roots in the Molo district, achieved a milestone at the age of 19 by performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City on March 18, 1950.

He holds the distinction of being the first Filipino invited to this esteemed venue.

Known by many titles such as “Mozart to the Barrios,” “Father of Outreach for Classical Music,” and “Traveling Salesman of Music,” he has dedicated his life to bringing classical music to the masses.

He has performed in unconventional venues including schools, dilapidated basketball courts, rural cockpits, hospital corridors, marketplaces, mountain villages, and coastal areas from Aparri to Jolo.

His international performances have also promoted global understanding and strengthened relations between the Philippines and other countries.

Notably, he was the first Filipino violin soloist to perform with a Japanese orchestra post-war and played a key role in organizing the first Singapore orchestra.

The Order of the National Artist is the highest honor given to Filipino artists. It is jointly administered by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and is conferred by the President of the Philippines.


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