NATIONAL Artist for Music Ramon Santos thinks it is unimaginable to live in a world without music. “Walang kakanta ng ‘Happy Birthday’? Walang kakanta sa kasal? Walang radyo? (No one will sing ‘Happy Birthday’? No one will sing at weddings? There will be no radio?) Can you imagine a world like that?” he said. “Music is a gift for humanity, kaya hindi pwedeng mawala ang music (that’s why music cannot be lost).”

This month, the National Music Competitions for Young Artists (NAMCYA) presents “Alab ng Musika: Wagi #galingNAMCYA” at the Main Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Aug. 23.

The country’s most prestigious competition for young musicians, NAMCYA has identified and nurtured Filipino musicality since 1973. For 46 years, the competition has done its part “to preserve, develop, and promote Philippine music as an art and as a handmaid of cultural development.” During its first year, it introduced competitions for choir, piano, solo instrument, and family ensemble.

Ang ating mga tradisyon, tayo lang ang nakakagawa noon (We are the only ones who practice our own traditions),” said Mr. Santos, who is a member of the NAMCYA Board of Trustees, at the press launch in Dusit Thani Manila in Makati City.

Mr. Santos explained the importance of playing traditional instruments: “Kailangan nating malaman ang mga ito sapagkat kung hindi natin alam iyan, parang wala tayong identity (We need to know them because if we don’t, it is as if we have no identity).”

The concert will feature award-winning cellist Giancarlo Castrillo Gonzales; the DYCI Dagalak youth choir from Bulacan led by Nelson dela Cruz; youth string orchestra Pundaquit Virtuosi led by Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata; and the University of Santo Tomas Symphony Orchestra led by Dr. Renato Lucas, president of NAMCYA and principal cellist of Philharmonic Orchestra.

Following the concert on Aug. 23 is “NAMCYA @ ALABANG 400: The Cellist and The Apprentice,” a free mini-concert on Aug. 24 at Alabang 400 Village Clubhouse. The performance features Mr. Lucas and Joshua Ethan Dakanay, both on cello, with Denzel Abarquez on piano.

Aside from discovering and developing young Filipino musicians from around the country through annual competitions, NAMCYA also organizes workshops and cultivates Filipino music by commissioning and performing new works.

“We need the general public to understand the work that NAMCYA does. We’re reaching out to extremely talented young people,” NAMCYA chair Maria Paz Lagdameo said on the struggle of performing artists with regard to promotion and performance opportunities.

The competition is open nationwide to professional and non-professional music ensembles, choirs, instrumentalists, and solo performers who are below 30 years old. This year’s competitions will start on Aug. 31 in different parts of the country for the semifinal round; with the finals week on Nov. 26 to Dec. 1 at the CCP.

“We’ve been in existence for 46 years, we’d like to be able to say that we will be there for the next 25 years. With the Filipinos proud of every young artist who makes it to the international scene, not only nationally but in the very community where they live,” Ms. Lagdameo said. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

For tickets, contact the NAMCYA Secretariat at 836-4928, 836-4929 or 0949-9932592, or visit