Strings of endearment - Weekend

Strings of endearment

How Cebu fell in love with the ukulele

Text by Bernadette Mae B. Abangan
Photos by Marymil Cabrera

 

THE ukulele is one happy instrument.

UKULELE LOVING. Dawn Mirafuentes, a member of Ukulele Cebu, cradles her happy instrument.
UKULELE LOVING. Dawn Mirafuentes, a member of Ukulele Cebu, cradles her happy instrument.

“There’s a unique sound of a ukulele that makes you smile,” says the musician Paul Caca, founder of Ukelele Cebu, his face beaming as he explains how this tiny stringed instrument brings about brightness and joy.

Through the help of friends, word of mouth and social media, Paul formed Ukulele Cebu with fellow ukulele players and enthusiasts in November 2012. The group started playing at Koa Tree House in February 2013 with the help of Paul’s friend Akit Po, who owns the bar.

The group, which now holds regular ukulele sessions called “Ukelele Sundays” at The Outpost, plays the ukelele to entertain. It doesn’t stop there, however, as Ukulele Cebu aim’s “to inspire the young and old through music.” Further, the group hopes that more music lovers embrace the “ukulele lifestyle” or at least spread the word that the ukulele is one important instrument that’s more than a mere souvenir or plaything.

Plucking strings

Ukulele Cebu eventually became a “melting pot” of local talents from which beginners and experienced musicians shared a common passion. The group now has 40 to 50 members, who embrace a wide range of genres, such as rock, alternative, jazz, reggae, ballad, folk and country.

But what makes the ukulele such an endearing instrument?

“It brings good vibes to everyone listening,” says Paul, who is also a vocalist of the reggae band “Skankin Brews.”

“It’s a happy instrument,” adds Isser Job Libres, who plays the instrument with heart and soul when he’s not working at the business process outsourcing industry.

Stacey Cardoso, who plays the ukulele with her sister Karen, thinks that even if the song is about sadness, the instrument evokes a feeling of joy.
Says Stacey: “Bisag sad, happy paminawon.”

REGGAE A LA UKELELE. Isser Libres, Paul Caca and Marco Kumar play reggae music with a ukulele vibe.
REGGAE A LA UKELELE. Isser Libres, Paul Caca and Marco Kumar play reggae music with a ukulele vibe.

Outdoor ukulele

Ever thought of playing the ukulele outdoors? Well, Cebuano music enthusiasts are taking their ukuleles on bikes, if not bringing them to the mountains or hills. Through the “bikelele” and “bukidlele,” Ukulele Cebu helps spread the good vibe about this lovely instrument, as well as promote wellness and a love for nature.

Bikelele. The bikelele is a weekly bike ride around the City where the riders bring their ukuleles. Ever since Erick Mango Obispo, a pioneer member of Ukulele Cebu, hatched the idea, the group is now actively participated in bike activities such as “Tindak Sugbo,” which the Psychology Volunteers on Bikes spearheads.

Bukidlele. A mountaineering activity, the bukidlele has outdoor hobbyists as members who organize camping trips on weekends, during which they explore nature and bring their passion in music to the outdoors.

Aside from their outdoor activities, Ukelele Cebu also has online video tutorials and hosts a monthly ukulele workshop at West Gorordo Hotel for free, and anyone interested can join. Part of the group’s funds goes to their outreach programs for charity institutions, including orphanages and homes for the aged. Check out their Facebook page www.facebook.com/UkuleleCebu.

STRING SISTERS. Cardoso sisters Karen (lead vocals) and Stacey (ukulele) play an uplifting number.
STRING SISTERS. Cardoso sisters Karen (lead vocals) and Stacey (ukulele) play an uplifting number.

Paul Caca’s tips on learning the ukulele

Choose the right ukulele size according to your comfort level. There are three sizes: Soprano (smallest), Concert (mid-size), and Tenor (largest).

Learn the basic chords. You can learn these from the Internet.

Learn basic strumming.

Practice playing the ukulele while singing.

Learn from other people and have fun, like joining workshops.

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