By Jamie Phill R. Duldoco*

As I listened to the song “Daw sa Kanami Lang,” I began to wonder how Kinaray-a music started. I went to ask Dante Beriong, who is the singer of the song. I asked him how he was able to compose songs in Kinaray-a. Tito Dante, a multi-awarded Antiqueno artist, told me that he gets inspiration from the person who first started writing Kinaray-a songs. I then became curious about who the man is. I again asked Tito Dante about this man who started it all and found out that it is Mr. Bernie Salcedo a true blooded Antiqueno from Anini-y.
Bernie Salcedo is regarded as the “Father of Kinaray-a Music” because he is started the trend of composing Kinaray-a songs. Although a mechanical engineer by profession, Bernie Salcedo loved to compose songs. He began writing Kinaray-a songs when he was just a teenager way back in 1969. He composed Kinaray-a songs without anybody telling him to.

His first composition was “Daw sa Kanami Lang” that talks about commitment through friendship and love and how it makes relationships worth keeping. It was followed by “Mamingaw nga Mata” which is a slow, soft, nostalgic song about the things that we leave behind in the past and remember when we grow old. He also wrote a song for Antique’s hero, Evelio B. Javier, entitled “Ang Bata.”

Bernie is inspired by so many subjects, themes and topics. He has written songs about his wife, on friendships and the sentimentalism of the Antiquenos as a people. He also tackles issues about the environment and social realities like poverty and oppression. In 1977 he wrote the first part of trilogy about the history of Antique which he entitled “Maragtas.” In 1982, he wrote the second and third parts of the story. The musical was done from 1984-1988 and most songs were revised in 1998-1999 when the plot in the script was updated.

Another reason why Bernie Salcedo is considered as the Father of Kinaray-a Music is that Bernie practically influenced the Original Kinaray-a Music (OKM) writers with his music. Because of him, many OKM artists rose like Dante Beriong, Sammy Rubido, Mark Quintella, Noel Tabo-tabo, Noel Alamis and Edmund Infante. “He started it, we followed,” says Dante Beriong who really salutes Bernie Salcedo. “It was really Bernie who endeared us, OKM artists, to the power of Kinaray-a music.” Although Bernie is not as prolific as most of the OKM songwriters, his compositions are so rich and unique in their style. Only Bernie can compose songs that other artists cannot. Even if he uses dalum nga Karay-a (native Karay-a), people are able to understand and enjoy his songs. He is even considered by the urihing tubo (the young generation of artists) as avant garde because his melodies being complicated are difficult to imitate.
The reason why Kinaray-a music is flourishing in Antique is primarily because of Bernie. Kinaray-a music has grown to an artistic proportion that Antiquenos of all ages like, appreciate and enjoy it. Kinaray-a music can be heard in any house not just in Antique but also in Iloilo. Sound system operators also have copies of the songs and the radio stations in Antique play the songs on-air. Kinaray-a language has been expressed as music which is a very powerful medium.

Many Antiquenos all over the globe visit, the official website of Antique, and there they would relish Kinaray-a music. Listening to OKM somehow diminishes their longing for Antique. And we have to thank Bernie for that. “We pay tribute to the person who started it all. We take off our hats to Bernie Salcedo” adds Dante Beriong.

When I went to ask Bernie Salcedo about what it feels to be regarded as the “Father of Kinaray-a Music,” this I what he told me, “Being tagged as the Father of Kinaray-a Music, wow! I never imagined that what I started would get such appreciation. I am proud, happy and vindicated. I feel that what I started brought back the dignity of every Antiqueno. To the urihing tubo, they must continue what I have started and must bring it to a higher level and they must be proud to be Antiquenos.”


* Jamie Phill R. Duldoco is a Bachelor of Science in Biology student of the University of the Philippines Visayas and is now in her second year. She is a ballet dancer, a theater actor and an avid fan of Sidney Sheldon.