Levy Abad: Winnipeg’s Lone Filipino Folk Singer/Songwriter

Levy Abad: Winnipeg’s Lone Filipino Folk Singer/Songwriter

Surely there are many Filipinos in Winnipeg who could play a guitar and sing well. However, so far, there’s only one I knew of who could play the guitar and sing passionately not only covers but songs that he himself wrote.

Levy Abad started playing the guitar when he was in second-year high school. He wrote a whole cassette tape of love songs. Unfortunately, he could no longer find the said tape. He grew up with songs of The Cascades (“Rhythm of the Rain”) and Neil Diamond (“Sweet Caroline”). When he was in high school, his favorites were Jim Croce (“I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song”), Simon & Garfunkel (“The Sound of Silence”), Asin (“Kapaligiran”), Eagles (“I Can’t Tell You Why”), Neil Young (“Only Love Can Break Your Heart”), Dan Fogelberg (“Leader of the Band”), and CSNY (“Teach Your Children”). During his university years, he was influenced by Bob Dylan (“Blowin’ in the Wind”), Woody Guthrie (“This Land Is Your Land”), Buklod (“Kanlungan”), Gary Granada (“Mabuti Pa Sila”), Danny Fabella (“Aking Pangarap”), Tambisan sa Sining (“Dakilang Pakikibaka”), Musikang Bayan (“Awit kay Bambi”), Tracy Chapman (“Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution”), and Jackson Browne (“For Everyman”).

Abad has released two albums here in Canada: Canadian Experience volume 1 (an all-Filipino album that sings about the struggles, challenges, and successes of the Filipino community; with songs like “Na-Shock Ako,” “Dito sa Winnipeg,” and “Hinahanap-hanap”) and Never Give Up: Canadian Experience volume 2 (about human rights, with songs like “Never Give Up,” Stand Up for Your Rights,” and “Heading to Manitoba”). He is currently wrapping up his third album, tentatively titled Rhythms of Compassion. Both albums are available to purchase via iTunes. You may also check out on YouTube videos of songs that Abad wrote in tribute of the victims and survivors of the recent typhoon Haiyan that struck areas in the Philippines—“Winds of Haiyan” and “Christmas Tears.”

Abad has been actively performing and promoting his original music. He has performed already in Mississauga (Ontario) with Lolita Carbon, Mike Hanopol, and Heber Bartolome; in Toronto (Ontario) at venues like Relly’s Bar & Grill, Ryerson Student Centre, and University of Toronto Auditorium; Montreal (Quebec) with Acalanto, a Chilean Cultural Group; in Vancouver (British Columbia); Ottawa (Ontario) at Manila Hut; in Winnipeg (Manitoba) at Park Theatre, West End Cultural Centre, Sam’s Place, Artbeat Studio, and Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba.

Abad’s song “Para kay Ellen, Jocelyn, Sol, at Juana” was used as a musical score for Shasha Nakhai’s documentary “Baby, Not Mine”; while “Na-Shock Ako” for the documentary “End of Immigration?” by Marie Boti and Malcolm Guy.

If you want to watch a live performance of Abad, check him out at the Migrant and Human Rights Forum on June 26 and at the Winnipeg People’s Social Forum on July 5.

I asked if he had something more to say especially to the community at large: “I produced these albums because I want to give back to the community to inspire them to go on in the midst of struggles. I would like to be remembered as one of the pioneers in writing socially relevant songs that depict our life’s journey in Canada. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Radio Migrante–CHRY and CKJS–Good Morning Philippines for supporting and promoting my music.”
You may check more details about Abad by visiting www.levyabad.com or writing him an email: lev67.abad@yahoo.ca.