Libre: The siloy of Cebu

Libre: The siloy of Cebu

THE Cebu Siloy Music Awards began in 2017 and has named some of the outstanding works of Bisaya artists including Kurt Fick’s “HahahaHasula” (2017) written by Jude Gitamondoc and Rowell Ucat, Karencitta’s “Cebuana” (2018) and Juan Karlos’ “Buwan” (2019) as Best Song of the Year.

Why include the word “Siloy”? It is a valid question and thus, requires an explanation. Siloy (or Black Shama) is an endemic bird in the island of Cebu. Found in the last few forested patches in Cebu, the Siloy is listed as “endangered” and if not protected, may become extinct.

It is said that the siloy sings one of the most beautiful melodies among the birds in the world, and I thought of this as an exaggeration. A few weeks ago, a brethren in TawagAwit, Rosalinda Capitoc, who resides in Lahug, Cebu sent me a recording of siloys singing in her neigborhood. I must say, it is true that the siloy bird of Cebu sings so sweetly.

So, it is just perfect for a music award celebrating the best Bisaya songwriters and performers to be brought to the level of the siloy. Also, it is meant to bring public awareness of the plight of the siloys and the need to protect them from extinction.

How did we end up with the image of the siloy for the awards? Google search, of course. Among the many photos of the siloy, there was one that really stood out. I used it at the very start of the awards in 2017, not knowing who took the photo. I wanted so much to ask permission from the photographer and express my appreciation for the beautiful shot of the siloy.

On May 9, 2020, I received a message in Messenger of one my colleagues in the accountancy profession, Raul Benjamin Puentespina, who is based in Hong Kong. I had earlier invited him to be a member of the FB group, Bisaya Orig. He wrote: “I saw the latest nominees of the Cebu Siloy Music Awards 2020 and noticed that the Siloy logo was based on my photo of the Siloy (Black Shama). Just to let you know that I took that photo of the Siloy in Barangay Tabunan, Cebu City.” He added that it was included in the award-winning book, “The Birds of Cebu & Bohol” published by the University of San Carlos Press. We then had a video call where he told me how he ventured to Tabunan alone for a day and luckily found the birds. Such commendable work, Raul.

This year, we shall announce the awardees on May 29, 2020 possibly through Facebook Live. Who could be the composers and performers worthy of a Siloy?

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