Performer, Singer, Composer
Noel comes from a modest family. He grew up in a small town in La Union province called Rosario. As a kid he remembers performing at home every time his parents have some guests for a visit. Mesmerized with the sound and playing of the guitar by his relatives, he started learning how to play the instrument at the age of 10. Patiently he never stopped playing the borrowed guitar from the neighbor until he finds his fingers turned into green or get all the rusts of the strings.
He grew up a shy and insecure boy running away from people who enlist his name every time there is a singing contest in there town. He was too scared to perform in public – on stage where the town’s people would watch him. Lack of confidence made him repulsive from joining any contest or doing public performance. Not knowing that his talent for singing coupled with his songwriting skill would soon be his instruments in paving his own journey and creating his life-story.
Now, Noel is the voice behind the popular song Kanlungan or Pana-Panahon, as most people would call it. He is a singer-songwriter and musical director for theater. He started his career as a folksinger in 1982 and since then has been performing in various folk houses and music bars in Metro Manila. Noel has also performed in several concerts local and abroad. He has already released four albums under the Jesuit Music Ministry (JMM) label of the Jesuit Communications Foundation (Jescom) and one under Ballyhoo Records. His album includes: “Pasakalye”- 2001, “H’wag Mangamba”- 2002, “Medjas“– 2003, and “Noël” (Christmas album) – 2003. His music video “Kayod Kabayo, Kayod Barya”, a song from Pasakalye which portays the hardships of street vendors and common Filipinos, won the Best Music Video Awards for the 2002 Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA). “Pauwi Na”, a tribute to the Filipino overseas workers, from his album Medjas, was nominated as finalist in the Best Alternative Music Category, “Pasko Na, Pasko Na!” and “Ang Pasko Dito sa Amin”, songs about the Filipino Christmas traditions were nominated as finalists in the Best Christmas Song category, while “Tinamaan Mo”, from Medjas album, a bossa-nova-type about love was awarded as the Best Jazz Recording, all in the 17th Awit Awards – a prestigious award being given to Filipino recording artists by the Philippine Association of the Recording Industry (PARI). Aside from being part of several collaborative albums, Noel recently released his latest and 5th album, “Himig Nating Pag-ibig”, a collection of mostly original works which speaks not only about romantic love but also its other facets. This album was released under an independent recording company, Ballyhoo Records.
Now as an artist of the Universal Records Philippines, he just released his sixth solo album entitled Byahe. It is an album featuring his renditions of the OPM (Original Pilipino Music) classics in the 70s and 80s. Byahe in English means journey. Noel grew up with most of the songs in the album which were also written by the most prolific songwriters in the Philippines, Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika by Ryan Cayabyab, Pinay by Florante, Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko by Rey Valera and many more. Noel’s life has also been a musical journey since he started as a folksinger in the 80s.
Since then he has done several concerts and performed not only in the Philippines but also in Europe, Asia, Latin America and US.
Noel is also a respected artist because of his songs that speak of the environment, peace and other social concerns.
As a songwriter
While doing all his social involvements, Noel never stopped from performing at the bars where his roots as a singer started. And he also never stopped from writing songs not only for himself but also for other artists who are in need of new materials to record. This was also the time when Noel first made his way to the mainstream music industry.
He had his first song, “Hanap-hanap Ka”, written for Calvin Millado, then an upcoming recording artist of BMG records, then followed by “Ang Diwa ng Pasko”, a Christmas song for GMA7’s Christmas Collection which was interpreted by Janno Gibbs. And after that he wrote a couple of songs, “Kita’y Maghihintay” and “Nasa Langit”, for Agot Isidro, also a BMG recording artist. The latter song “Nasa Langit” became her second single. His being a finalist to the Metro Manila Popular Music Festival in 1999 opened a lot of opportunities for him in the industry. His entry to the festival “Dito sa Kanto”, as finalist was interpreted by the APO Hiking Society. Then the following year he joined the ABS-CBN: Himig Handog sa Bayaning Pilipino, another songwriting festival where his song “Ikaw ay Bayani” made it as one of the 10 finalists. Since then, he has also written several songs for other mainstream artists like Cesar Montano, Randy Santiago, Dingdong Avanzado, Nikki Gil and many others. He also composed the theme song of Pahina, an educational television program of the ABS-CBN Foundation. He was also a finalist at the Asian Songwriting Festival Local Search 2000 with his entry Ikaw Lang. His song “Kayod Kabayo, Kayod Barya” was used as a soundtrack for the movie “Ang Tanging Ina”. Recently, Noel frequently appeared as guest composer/singer for the television program of GMA7 “Debate” where he wrote and perform songs related to the topics on every episode. He also composed the song Alaala Ka Infanta, a special tribute to the people and communities of Infanta, Real and Nakar, Quezon province, who were ravaged by the three big typhoons in December of 2004. The song was performed at a concert in the town center of Infanta during the Earth Day celebration in April 2005.As a Musical Director
Aside from being a recognized singer-songwriter, Noel is an active artist-teacher-member of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA). He has already written several songs and musically directed for PETA’s plays which include: “Ang Tiririt ng Ibong Adarna”, “Summer Dreaming”, “Don Guillerno”, “Romeo at Julieta: Isang Komedi“ (a collaboration with the Black Tent Theater of Japan), “Dream Weavers,” “Mga K’wento ni Lola Basyang”, and “Walang Himala”. He also joined the casts of PETA’s musicale “1896,” where he played the part of Jose Rizal.
As an actor Noel has also acted as Jesus Christ in the rock opera Jesus
Christ Superstar where he portrayed the role of Jesus. The musical was staged at the Music Museum in June 2000.
Noel is a member of the Board of Trustees of FILSCAP (Filipinos Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers); member, Board of Trustees Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) – a nationwide multi-sectoral coalition working for economic justice and empowerment ; member, Board of Trustees Jubilee South/Asian Peoples Movement for Debt and Development (JS/APMDD); Ambassador for Conservation of the Haribon Foundation – a foundation that promotes the protection and preservation of the environment; an Ambassador for the protection and preservation of the Cordillera Watersheds; volunteer for Greenpeace International – an international environmental organization; and a founding member – Dakila (Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism).
In 2004, Noel was given a special recognition by the provincial government of La Union during its 154th Foundation Anniversary, for his outstanding service and invaluable contribution to culture and the arts. And in February of 2007, he was chosen as the endorser/spokesperson for the National Arts Month (NAM) with the theme “Ani ng Sining – 2007” by the National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA).
Recently, awarded Gold Records award by the Universal Records.
PASAKALYE – is an album about different street stories of the common Filipino. It is also Noel’s first album as a solo performer after Buklod. The term pasakalye also means an introduction. And the term could also be a contraction of the phrase from the streets. The album consists of 14 songs with 16 tracks. Two of which were reprised.
H’WAG MANGAMBA – is a album for reflection. An album which contains songs written by the Jesuit Fathers and brothers rendered in contemporary arrangements and with minimal instrumentations.
MEDJAS – (med – jas) n 1: coined from the words medyo and jazz. Medyo means a “little of”…and jazz means, music style or genré characterized by improvisation, syncopated rhythms, and sontrapuntal ensemble playing” – of which this album has only a little of. The composer jokes that this album is pretentious because he is neither a jazz singer nor a musician but just a big fan of the genré. He only knows and palys a little of it, but appreciates everything about it. It is a compilation of mostly new and some not so old works. n 2: Medjas is a sockful of dreams, of faith, of love, of social reality…and of collective hope.
NOËL – is a collection of Christmas songs. Since Noel was born on Christmas day and he was named after the birth of Christ he thought of coming with an album of celebration.
HIMIG NATING PAG-IBIG – coined from two classic OPM songs Ang Himig Natin and Himig ng Pag-ibig, this album is a collection of modern Filipino love songs. Written in the beautiful language Pilipino, “Himig Nating Pag-ibig” also conceals the composer’s emotions and passions for love. The album speaks not only of romantic love but also love of country, for the children, care for the environment, of freedom, and of peace and harmony.
BYAHE – Journey in English. It is a collection of songs written by the most prolific songwriter in the Philippines. The album features songs from the 70s and 80s. Rendered mostly on acoustic feel the album is a cross over from generation to generations.
(Just recently released under Universal Records Philippines)