Joey Ayala returns to Music Museum with 'Mandiriwa'

Shortly after producing a Neocolours (+Jamie Rivera) concert in Baguio in the late 1980s with a bunch of friends – I was convinced by my friend Eileen Dalusong into buying a show of the Outreach Program of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in mid-1990. 

The artist was Joey Ayala, and his group Bagong Lumad. The Mga Awit ng Tanod-Lupa tour would take them around the entire Philippines. My partner and I ended up buying two shows: a matinee and an evening show, both at my alma mater, Miriam College. My business partner and I found the perfect partner-organization for the shows: the Environmental Studies Institute (ESI).

Joey was then still based in Davao City with his wife Jessie Puentespina (whose clan is into cut flowers) and their young children Jaku and Jed.

The “madlang people” then weren’t aware of Joey’s existence. He was however, already very well known in the circles of activists and non-government organizations (NGOs), and had quite a cult following.

I remember getting my first Joey Ayala tape – then crudely recorded – from filmmaker Ditsi Carolino, who resided in UP Village, Quezon City.

Apart from the popular songs of Asin, nobody at that time really went around the country to educate young people about the environment. Talk about climate change was rare and “alien” to our ears.

That is why it was a delight to hear Joey interacting with Miriam high school students – who were required by the school to attend the concert – about the effects of their hair spray (an indispensable tool back then!) on the ozone layer. Joey had plenty of time for talkies in between singing his songs about the environment. It was practically a lecture disguised as a concert.

Within two years of that nationwide concert tour, Joey Ayala would sign up for a deal with Universal Records – a major record label – and would do something unprecedented: launch 3 albums simultaneously: Panganay Ng Umaga, Magkabilaan, and Mga Awit ng Tanod-Lupa. The venue? Music Museum. 

It is thus serendipitous that after not performing for a big concert in Manila for over two decades, he is back to where he started: the Music Museum! He and a reconfigured Bagong Lumad band are performing at 8 pm on  Saturday, September 16 at the Music Museum in a concert dubbed as Mandiriwa with a new generation of performers. [[WATCH] Rappler Live Jam: Joey Ayala]

Apart from singer-songwriter Dong Abay who rose to fame for hits like "Banal na Aso, Santong Kabayo" with his group Yano in the 1990s, Joey will be joined by the modern-day poets: Gloc9 and spoken-word artist-turned-playwright Juan Miguel Severo, and fast-rising unconventional singer Bullet Dumas. All of these artists create their own songs. He will also be joined by his former female vocalist Bayang Barrios who has of late made a name for herself as a solo artist, and as part of the trio Tres Marias. 

Dong Abay said he was excited to perform "Magkabilaan" and a Bagong Lumad-style rendition of his major hit "Banal na Aso." He considers Joey a major influence, and embraces being mentored by him “always.”

Joey Ayala with Dong Abay during their Rappler #LiveJam on August 15.

Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

While reminiscing good times with the original Bagong Lumad band, Bayang Barrios said, “I always jam with Joey at Conspiracy every chance I get, even if he doesn’t want to,” she quipped. “It’s been around 30 years since Bagong Lumad days. It’s just that I miss (percussionist) Noe Tio and the original sound of Bagong Lumad. We’d (she and Joey) been together for quite some time so the blending when we sing is ‘automatic.’ It’s exciting because the producers of the show are very young,” she added.

She added: “Yes, he was my mentor. Not only in performing and in creating songs, but in life as well.” She said she will perform "Bathala" and  "Magkaugnay" among other songs.

Incidentally, between Joey’s first and current concert at the Music Museum, the Department of Education (DepEd) has taught Joey’s songs to children all over the country. That’s why children and their teachers dance (with full choreography) to "Magkaugnay" wherever Joey performs every month all over the isles.

Why Mandiriwa? And what does it mean? We caught Joey rehearsing with Malu Matute and original Bagong Lumad member Oni Badiang; as well as Gloc9, and Bullet Dumas in his home studio. He said that while there are terms for specific artists, there seems to be no one word for “artist.”

Mandirigma (warrior), pagdiwang (celebration) at diwa (spirit). Mandiriwa is someone who works with, fights with, and celebrates essence, ideas, thoughts and spirituality,” he said.

The concert Mandiriwa is produced by Vandals Entertainment and Gabi Na Naman Productions. According to producer Ian Urrutia, head of PR and Sales, he and co-producer Mari Lara Pauline Bobier, who is also an events director, told Rappler that Mandiriwa is their 5th production, as they earlier had sold-out concerts – Damá featuring the 3Ds: Johnoy Danao, Bullet Dumas, and Ebe Dancel; and Secrets:#AiaBarbieKitchie: Live at the Music Museum featuring some singers listeners first heard as members of Imago (Aia de Leon), Hungry Young Poets/Barbie’s Cradle (Barbie Almalbis), and Mojofly (Kitchie Nadal).

Due to clamor from the audience, both concerts had repeats. The third member of their production group is Miley Habito, who doubles as production manager. They are only in their late 20s to (very) early 30s.

Urrutia said that they “Aim to give homegrown acts an opportunity to make history and be part of something big.” 

According to a press release, the producers behind the show said: “Get to know Joey Ayala’s parallel occupation as a wisdom-worker through a world-class music showcase that celebrates his legacy as an artist’s artist. The accomplished and award-winning artist will perform timeless classics and new songs that mirror the collective experiences and struggles of ordinary Filipino people. With his immaculate blend of Filipino ethnic instruments and alternative music, expect a deeply original set that solidifies his reputation as a music legend.”  

Oh, and once an educator, always an educator! The producers also added that  “As a proponent of capacity-building learning methods that incorporate songwriting and mind-mapping sessions in some of his music shows, Joey Ayala will also conduct short workshops in between sets to engage the audience and help them understand their inner selves.” Great! –


For ticket inquirires, contact Leah of Vandals Entertainment at 0917.878-9803 and reserve through or Music Museum at 721.6726. Passes may be purchased via Tickets are at P3,300 for SVIP, with signed poster & limited edition tote bag; P2,900 for VIP; P1,900 for Patron; and P1,100 for Balcony.