Composer for the Classical Guitar

Bayani's original solo classical guitar compositions incorporate Philippine folk and indigenous motifs. His “Kapilas na Giting,” the first serious work for guitar composed by a Filipino composer, has been included in a number of CDs by the German guitarist Hucky Eichelmann.


His later works, arrangements, and transcriptions can be found in a CD entitled "Kanta Filipina," performed by Yale graduate classical guitarist Theresa Calpotura, who teaches guitar at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.


Among his other guitar works are "Kudyawit," "Kundimang Walang Titik," "Batang Laro (Child Play) Suite of 7 pieces--all commissioned by Angelito Agcaoili--"Batikusan," "Talagad," "Parang Kahapon Lamang"--all commissioned by Theresa Calpotura--"Ritwal" for Guitar Quartet, commissioned by the UST Guitar Alumni Society, and "Amihan" for Guitar Orchestra, which was especially composed for the 2010 UST International Guitar Festival.


Below are collections of select arrangements and performances.


Kanta Filipina

The following guitar pieces by Bayani Mendoza de Leon, performed by Theresa Calpotura on guitar, are included in the CD entitled "Kanta Filipina" produced by VGo Recordings. For orders, go to

Talagad (Merciful) - Elegy for Guitar

This piece evolved from the motifs of a dirge called “Talagad” by the Tiruray, a traditional hill people of southwestern Mindanao in the Philippines. The composer sought to capture the chant’s melodic style and exploited to a large degree its scale and arpeggio patterns.

Maglalatik (Coconut Meat Gatherers) - Guitar Adaptation

Maglalatik is a mock-war dance, of Spanish origin, that depicts a fight between the Moros and the Christians over the prized latik, or coconut meat residue. In this guitar adaptation, the brisk, lilting character of the dance has been essentially captured, but some sections were given a different treatment to convey a more delicate and in turn rhapsodic feeling, making for a refreshing contrast to the normally spirited pulse of the music.

Tahip-Puso (Heart Throb) - Serenade for Guitar

This piece was a scene background music in one of the composer’s early zarzuelas or musicales. Because it was not meant to be sung, he had allowed more freedom in its melodic structure, contour, and reach. Despite its restless character, this serenade evokes a plaintive sentiment that is unmistakably Filipino. 

Parang Kahapon Lamang (It Seems Only Yesterday) - Lullaby for Guitar

Parang Kahapon Lamang was inspired by a scene in a musicale, written by the composer, of a mother pining for her children who are coming home after many years’ stay in a foreign land. It evokes the character of the Philippine’s native lullaby, Oyayi, and is notable for its effortless modulations and its clever, tasteful major-to-minor, minor-to-major shifts at key junctions. 

Mutya Ng Pasig (Maiden of Pasig) - Guitar Adaptation

Composed in 1926, Mutya ng Pasig epitomizes the essence of the kumintang, a pre-Hispanic song form that is said to embody the deepest aesthetic consciousness of the Filipino psyche. Abelardo pioneered nationalistic expression in Philippine music and is a much-revered composer by his countrymen.


Kapilas na Giting (A Measure of Valor)

This original composition was premiered as an international master class exhibition piece at the Espla Conservatory of Music in Alicante, Spain in 1976. The heart of Kapilas na Giting is the percussive beat of the pounding song of the Ifugaos, a northern Philippine tribe, and the lyrical kumintang, the oldest of the Philippine song forms.  The composition showcases the tonal and rhythmic agility of the guitar.


Below are select interpretations of the piece. 


Batang Laro Suite (Child Play)

Originally written for violin and piano, Batang Laro, a suite of 7 pieces, was inspired by animated scenes of children playing native Philippine games in the composer’s imagination. The rhythmic motifs were drawn essentially from Philippine folk dances ranging from the tuppaya-patung of the Igorots (northern Philippine tribe), the habanera, polka, balitaw, jota, and moro-moro of rural folks in Central Luzon and the Visayas, and the inagung and tinambul of Mindanao. The composer made liberal use of these rhythms, incorporating them into his own original dance-like melodies. As such, the various pieces in this suite can lend themselves to choreographic inventions that can be performed with the music, along the lines of Philippine children’s games specified in each number.

The impetus for this work came from the composer’s desire to write accessible pieces for violin and piano that could be performed by his then 10-year old violinist son, Okir, and 8-year-old pianist daughter, Amihan. The pieces were designed to draw his two children through graduated levels of technical difficulty as well as expressivity. The suite has also been adapted for solo classical guitar as commissioned by Angelito Agcaoili and Manual Soriano. 

Below are Angelito Agcaoili's performances of all 7 pieces in the suite.

Featured Performances of Select Pieces

Below are performances of several original guitar pieces.

Ritwal - Toccata Mambayu for Guitar

Mambayu, a rice-pounding song of the Kalinga, a Philippine northern tribe, provided the germinal motifs for this work.

As with his many other compositions, the composer has hewn closely to his compositional worldview, which is to achieve a dynamic fusion of the traditional and contemporary elements. This work was commissioned by the University of Santo Tomas Guitar Alumni Association and premiered by the UST Guitar Quartet.

Parang Kahapon Lamang

From the composer's zarzuela, "Villa Mariquita," this song is a mother's poignant and nostalgic reminiscences of three children's growing years.


Guitarist: Raffy Lata