AT MY age, I’ve celebrated the Kadayawan a good many times, and had my share of the “riotous” yet fun festival ingredients. I have endured the heat of the sun and humidity at night walking the city streets chasing parades, parties and people.

To tell a good story, you have to be at the center of it all, and that’s what I have been doing all these years until I began feeling too old (or lazy) to walk the streets and party at night.

I will always be a disco kid. Electronic music is not just my thing. I also had my share of live band music, which somehow got too loud to my preference. Where can a choosy old man go for a worthwhile Kadayawan experience these days?

Luck was on my side. There were a couple of intimate gigs that were under the radar during the recent festival weekend, and that only meant the affairs were going to be intimate. Intimate = less crowd = peaceful = happy old man.

Happier, if not happiest, since it’s one of my favorite singers (and one of the country’s best vocal artists) who was performing—Bituin Escalante.

I’ve always been a fan of this lady since the first day I heard her sing, and catching her perform live was a big fan moment for me. How can you not be proud of a girl belting gay anthems making the LGBT population along Orosa Street in Malate jumping with joy at a Gay Pride party? She recalled singing Frozen by Madonna but I remembered So Free by Ultra Nate.

Thanks to her good friend and fellow artist Daphne Jocson’s prodding to visit Davao for a couple of gigs, Bituin flew in for the Kadayawan weekend. Both artists collaborated and generously held two free shows in different venues. I caught the second night at Picobello in Ma-a.

I squeezed myself as the fourth wheel at a friend’s table. Lucky me, my seat was beside the singer’s stool. This time I was going to watch her sing next to me.

If you ask me, Bituin is still that shining star I’ve known her to be. She never lost her touch, the luster in her vocal prowess. In fact she’s even gotten better and yes, emitting more lumens to her star-like radiance. Is it even a wonder why she was named “bituin”. She’s certainly living up to her name.

Songs by Michel Legrand and Willy Cruz, Broadway tunes and the artist’ hit single, were some of the music heard at the show.

Listening to Bituin Escalante sing is by far the best diet plan. You'd only be too happy to forget about food yet feel full.

On the same night, a young Dabawenya debuted her first digital single under Ivory Music at BluGre MTS.

“A Song Inspired By You”, a song that delivers a message of universality, is an original composition by 16-year old Davaoeña Gabrielle Gross (available for download at iTunes, Spotify, Deezer and Amazon).

It was also a n intimate affair attended by music lovers, friends, family and followers of the young artist.

Catching the last set of Gabrielle, she was so sweet to sing her new song again. Surprisingly, the other songs she listed are quite familiar to me and a bit mature for her age.

She said that she grew up listening to jazz and classical music, to Michael Jackson and Jonny Mathis. It was her dad, popular balladeer Chad Borja, who really opened my mind to music.

It's a bonus to be the daughter of a famous singer, but Gabrille has plans of her own. “I want to be known for the things I do and for who I am.”

That’s Kadayawan for me — beautiful, relaxing music.


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