By Kristia Niña G. Daymiel | February 9, 2024
What are artists if not driven by their passions? What is love without an outlet for its expression? The Silliman University (SU) Valentine Songwriting Competition (VSC) knows the answers to these questions very well, as love and art intertwine annually on the 14th of February—by celebrating both National Arts Month and Valentine’s Day.
SU VSC has its own stories to tell each year, serving as a window through one’s inner musician. It entails arrays of emotions and styles of music, showcasing talents in singing, songwriting, and composition. Naturally, its theme falls under the umbrella of love and romance, possibly touching on heartbreak.
Last year’s winning piece was once a token of love and pain written on secret pages. What were mere words longing to be heard became a song finding its way onstage, performed with an orchestra. It was called “Pangandoy”—or, in English, “Dream.”
“Pangandoy” has its own dreams
Competing with nine other musical pieces, the song brought home victorious melodies as it garnered “Grand Champion” and “Best Title” awards at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium. Behind its success is Julia Faith Joaquin, a second-year psychology student from Tagbilaran City, Bohol. It was in 2019, during a phase of grief when she found the driving force to write. For her, that moment—though unpleasant—“happened for a reason.”
The song encompasses a love fostered from afar, one that, though unfelt and unseen, remained steadfast.
“That happened, but I would really take that as a blessing, because if not [for] it, dili mu lugwa si ‘Pangandoy,’” says Julia, looking back to the time when pain stimulated her art.
(That happened, but I would really take that as a blessing, because if not [for] it, “Pangandoy” would not come out.)
Reminiscing the primitive years of “Pangandoy,” Julia is glad that a song came to life through her prowess in music. Though delighted, she chose to keep the words on paper for almost four years.
“I’m confident with my voice, not with my songwriting,” Julia said.
It was not until SU VSC welcomed her to the doors of songwriting in 2023 that she granted her song’s dream to break free—to be heard and sung. At last, it became a musical piece.
Julia’s musical feat
A musician by heart, Julia’s passion for singing was the cornerstone of her songwriting breakthrough. Before winning VSC 2023, she was then an 18-year-old who lined up in a long queue in front of ABS CBN studio, amid a 4 a.m. breeze, to test her luck on the national stage. Hoping to foster her singing career, Julia knew little of what lay beyond the threshold: the fate to become a Tawag ng Tanghalan (TNT) five-time defending champion and semi-finalist. But it wasn’t the first time her voice debuted onscreen. Before that feat, she voice-acted as Annie of Disney’s Little Einsteins on its Filipino-dubbed version in TV 5.
Sing-off after sing-off, she knew she wanted to do something else aside from her art. There, she decided to go back home and went to Silliman University for college. Despite leaning towards art, music, and the like, Julia pursued psychology, which she now finds instrumental in her plan to pursue music therapy.
Love and Art in a Single Tune
Grief was the receipt of how much Julia loved. For her, such emotions make great motivators in creating tunes out of your pain, believing it will “make you feel better, helping you relieve yourself.” Likely, songwriting consoles the heart—not just of the writer, but of those who relate to what they create.
Julia’s achievement in VSC 2023 may have found its roots in melancholia. But as an artist driven by passion, it was through the songwriting competition that she found the perfect outlet to express her emotions—celebrating both love and art on a single stage, in one musical piece.