A bard is born

Joseph Gara is not only Bohol’s most sought-after wedding singer and highly in demand entertainer in the music bars of Panglao and Tagbilaran.

He writes songs. He creates melodies, picking his notes from the widest spaces of experience, sa halapad nga kawanangan, incorporating intrinsic elements of his home province – from the chirping of birds, the lapping of waves to the soft sea breeze that lulls Boholanos to sleep. He sings of the longings of the heart of a spouse left behind by a sailor husband, a mother’s wishes to her newborn, of romance and lullabies, of heartbreaks and hope. All in the vernacular.

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Take the following lyrics of the song “Paghunas” that emerged as grand winner of last year’s VisPop 4.0 held in Cebu City:

Hinaut nga unta mahunong ni’ng langit

Ang pag-unos ni’ng dagat.
Hinaut nga unta mabadlong ni’ng adlaw
Ang paghuyop ni’ng hangin.
Sa ikaduhang paghunas, makita ka.

VisPop is a song writing campaign that “celebrates the Visayan language and culture by encouraging Visayan-speaking composers and music enthusiasts to write quality Visayan songs that speak of today’s generation.”

“I am a proud Bisaya and more than a privileged man to create and render songs in my native tongue,” he quipped.

With the vast and verdant fields of La Hacienda in Alicia town, where he was born and raised, he draws inspiration from the local flavors of his hometown, and growing up in a music-loving family with a father who also sings.

It is not often that a local talent like Joseph Gara comes along; a man truly immersed in his music and one who takes his art seriously – as a career, a passion and even, a vocation. He never settles for what could be good enough but, continually strives at perfecting his craft. After finishing his BS Management course from Holy Name University, he went to pursue formally an AB Music degree from the University of Southern Philippines.

What is also remarkable of this young singer-song writer is the professionalism and integrity in keeping himself organized despite the many appointments and gigs, a trait that is sometimes wanting in artists and creative individuals. It is no wonder that clients speak well of his services and one after another, we watch him winning singing and songwriting competitions.

In Bohol, he has been winner in various competitions; notably, the 2014 Bohol Sandugo Song Festival where his song “Duyan” won First runner up and his other original composition “Bahandi” made a debut. He also emerged First Runner Up in last year’s song writing tilt for the Diamond Jubillee of the Diocese of Tagbilaran.

Joseph Gara has indeed arrived, such that when one thinks of producing an original composition, his name always crops up in the local scene. He wrote the lyrics and helped arranged the city’s official Saulog, Tagbilaran track. He also wrote and was instrumental in the Bangon, Bohol song that celebrated the spirit of volunteerism after the 2013 earthquake. He lends his voice in the official Sandugo and Balik Bohol jingle.

But there’s no stopping for this young man. He longs for the day when many Boholanos would appreciate and give value to local original compositions. He works together with other musicians urging them to unite and form a cohesive group. These past weeks he has been busy gathering artists to prepare for Himo’g Huni: Unang Hugna, a local song writing competition.

And the music, it would seem, has just began.  (Sonieta D. Labasan)



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