Joey Ayala's Real Thoughts on Being Nominated to be a National Artist for Music

And how synchronicity factors into it.

Joey Ayala is pretty much the closest thing we have to a living legend. For over 40 years, he’s gifted us with consistently brilliant music while promoting causes close to his heart along the way, one of which is his well-known love for indigenous Filipino instruments. He’s a Palanca Award-winning writer, a native of Bukidnon, and a graduate from Ateneo de Davao, but his most popular descriptors are singer, songwriter, and frontman musician of the band Ang Bagong Lumad.

This legend was gracious enough to accept Esquire Philippines’ invitation to be the first ever guest to our Calamansi series, Esquire Sessions Live, where we invite fans to listen and talk intimately with their favorite artists using Calamansi, a new Filipino audio live cast app. For those who couldn’t attend the candid talk, we’ve recorded and produced the live cast into a podcast so you don’t miss out on the timeless wisdom of the one and only Joey Ayala.

In our freewheeling conversation, we asked Joey about what he really thinks about being nominated to be a National Artist for Music. And Joey being Joey gave us an answer that went deep, reflecting on how the circumstances of his career led to this moment.

“In the late ’80s, naisip ko ‘yan, and then I forgot about it. In ’86, I had this sense that there was a vacuum in Philippine pop and that vacuum was in my shape. So the sensation was I got sucked in the vacuum. It was very interesting, very integrated experience for me. I could say suwerte ako. I could say right place, right time. I could say I’ve been preparing for it without knowing. So on many levels, wala e iyun lang ang natural na nangyayari,” said Joey.


Tapos sa mga imbestigasyon ko diyan sa thing related to synchronicity, things seeming to go to your way, it seems to be a function of doing things you’re really meant to do, doing things that you can do, uniquely. Knowing yourself in other words and matching that with action. You know yourself, you know what makes you happy, you know what you’re not good at, you know where you should study—then you do it. And apparently, that alignment also makes other things align to you. So I guess that’s what other people mean when they say “I don’t believe in luck, you make your own luck” I think it has something to do with alignment.”

Whether it was happenstance or fate, there’s no denying that Joey Ayala’s long career has made him more than worthy to be considered to be a National Artist. Listen to more of this living legend’s underrated wisdom in the first episode of Esquire Sessions Live, now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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