By Jana Tabligan and Ninna Aglugub

Awitenista is the biggest annual song writing competition in Ateneo De Davao University, spearheaded by the official yearbook publication; Kalasag. After years of being a competition with entries composed solely of bands, the doors have finally been opened for solo composers. On its 29th year, Awitenista‘s theme song was “Habiin ang Musikang Atenista” which highlighted authentic Atenean music. The grand finals was held last Sunday, February 28 at the Finster Auditorium.


LEGEND. Ebe Dancel, the guest judge and frontman of the band Sugarfree, performed his songs “Bawat Daan” and “Tulog Na”. Dancel surprised the crowd when he added a medley of his old songs as a thank you to the production staff to his requests for seafood and coffee while jokingly saying it was their way of bribing him for a song request.


DUO. DJ Naranjilla and his partner, Diego Borromeo served as the representatives of their group who claimed the award for  the Best Awitenista Music Video. Both received 10,000 pesos worth of cash, a box of a dozen from Kripsy Kreme, and a trophy.


PHOTOGENIC. Paolo Camacho and Nikka Go were named as the awardees for the Most Photogenic.


PANEL OF JUDGES. Fr. Charlie G. Cenzon, Jr. S.J., Michael Zachary A. Leyson, Mari Anathea C. Chua, Maricel Tabuclin Contaoi-Cayas, Myrina N. Pabuna, Joseph Malay Dichoso, and Ebe Dancel are called onstage to receive their plaque of appreciation. (not in order)


HOUR OF FAME. The composers are called onstage to perform Awitenista’s theme song.

The Best Live Performance was awarded to Gabriel Sabalo and Trisha Senerado who sang “Mahalin”, which was composed by Maniell Dymna Dulay. They were awarded by Awitenista’s media partner Oomph Radio. Although the said entry was the last to perform, it elicited applause and cheers from the audience. Certain lines from the song electrified the crowd such as “Kulang pa ba ang oras, kulang pa ba ang rosas, kulang pa ba ang sugat hatid ng bawat sandalil na hindi ka mapasaakin,“ and “Walang hiya, ang manhid mo naman pala”.


Pauline Tolentino, the winner of the religious category with her composition “Over Me” shares that her hardest struggle during the competition was the finalization of her entry. Although she wanted her song to be personal, a part of her believed that the audience should be able to relate and understand the song. With that, said Tolentino, comes the challenge of creating balance between the two. “As a song writer, you should be conscious of what you’re writing,” Tolentino commented.


The nationalistic category was won by the songwriter and singer; Kent Salera. “I want my music to be the voice to others,” he explained for his reason in joining Awitenista. Salera considers his song as a message for the Ateneans, just as what its title, “Mensahe” entails. Another song Salera composed was “Tinig”. The song was for the contemporary category which won the People’s Choice Award.


John Wary Ybanez, claimed the award for the Best Jam Category with his entry, “Kinabuhing Atenista”. When asked who or what the influences for his composition were, he based it on the lifestyle of Ateneans. He also drew inspiration from his own experiences as student. He sent his hopes for the Atenean community through his song, saying that, “If someday marinig ng mga taong naggraduate na, ma reminisce ang stay nila dito sa Ateneo. (If someday this heard by those who already graduated, they will reminisce their stay here in Ateneo.)”.


The song “Roller Coaster” bagged the award in the contemporary category and the grand finals championship. It was written by Joanne Frigillana with her song interpreter, Ann Valerie Pamplona. Ann said that when this song was still being written, they were struggling with their academics. They then decided to dedicate it towards the students who also felt the same struggle.


The event ended with an encore from the grand finalist champion interpreter, Ann Valerie Pamplona, alongside her composer, Joanne Frigillana as they sung together the winning song, “Roller Coaster”.