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Life lessons from a musician in Vigan

If you are here in search of a foolproof formula, a step-by-step, or a go-to method that would absolutely launch you into your lifelong dream, this may not be the answer.

Or it could?

There really is no perfect guide to what measures one must take to secure success or aspirations.

But this story you are about to read may help you find your way in this rather puzzling life.

A child who would become a gift to his family was born in Vigan City, in November of 1988.

His name is Bernard Tabag, now 34, the youngest child of Emilia Babas and Benjamin Tabag.

As a young kid, he said he was always fascinated with music.

Looking back on his memories during his younger days, he said, “Ubingak pay lang, talagan a love-ko ti music. (I have loved music since I was a child).”

He shared his story as if he was telling a friend how great his day went — his smile never faded.

His mom, who is with him almost everywhere he goes quipped, “Talaga a mahilig agkanta, no adda mangegna nga tukar tultuladenna uray saan palang umumno diay lirikona. (He has always been into singing; he copies what he hears even if he gets the lyrics wrong).”

(Upper Right) Bernard Tabag, 34, a musician from Vigan City takes a family photo with his family. PIA/ATV

As if finding the right notes and creating musical sounds with his slightly raspy voice was not enough, he can also use instruments to express his passion.

He learned guitar as a child when he studied in Baguio City, not long after he went home, unable to withstand the distance away from his family.

Feeling more at ease in his home, he taught himself how to play the organ gifted to his mom by a family friend.

Later, another instrument caught his interest. Playing during the flag-raising ceremony at the Provincial Capitol of Ilocos Sur for many years, he requested a drum set which he also learned to play on his own.

He can sing. He can play the guitar, drums, and organ. 

Bernard Tabag singing and playing the organ at one of his performances. PIA/ATV
Bernard performs during the "United Ilocandia Disability Summit" of PWDs in Region I on November 25, 2022. PIA/ATV

All this, he pursued with his ardent desire to master music, all while without a sense of sight.

Bernard was born with blindness.

Despite this being a disability, he was more than able to follow his heart.

He has performed on numerous occasions, and stages as remarkable as the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

He teaches marching bands at schools and gives private lessons to other music-driven individuals.

For him, lack of vision was no adversity to conquer.

Growing up, as any child who was seen differently would experience, some children his age would call him names.

A terrible memory that draws pain in his mother’s eyes remembering was the one incident when he was a child and a kid deliberately injured her son.

There were more scenarios he shared where he faces discrimination, yet Bernard’s bright perspective was not shaken.

“I am happy. My parents are understanding and very supportive of me,” Bernard simply said.

He “never felt different”, because his parents have always made sure he feels complete, just like any other kid.

They would ask him to help with household chores, and his mom said he organizes his things even better than those who can perfectly see colors and images.

Apart from being a good son, he is also a friend to lean on.

He shares his blessings with his friends in need and comes to their rescue without reservation. One trait his mom is a little cautious of but pride over her son being a compassionate person cannot hide in her discrete smile.

Bernard Tabag shares his story of rising above his disability.

There are always adversities attached to the process of obtaining your aspirations, they will always try to deter your progress.

“Do not lose focus on what you want to do. Hold on to hope, because if you do not then it will really be difficult for you,” Bernard said.

He emphasized the importance of having a resolute mind—unyielding to the challenges of life.

“Do not allow yourself to stay in the mud,” he said.

Bernard tells us that it is not about what you do not have, but what you have an abundance of.

It is through how we perceive the circumstances that we can rise through hardships.

What one needs in order to succeed is found within themselves. (JCR/JPD/ATV, PIA Ilocos Sur)

About the Author

Aila Villanueva

Writer

Region 1

Aila T. Villanueva is an Information Officer I of the Philippine Information Agency Ilocos Sur Information Center based in the Heritage City of Vigan.

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