Palaweña duo “High Hello” won the Best World Music Recording category in the 34th Awit Awards on November 29, for their song entitled “Palawan” under Viva Records.

The Philippine Association of the Recording Industry, Inc. (PARI) organizes the Awit Awards, which “gives honor to Filipino performing artists and individuals behind the development of Filipino recorded music.”

Caitlin Jaycen Cruz and Princess Marsidel “Mara” Rizada are friends who developed songs together and began their career performing in venues and inside a vehicle in 2016.

One of their songs, “Konti Nalang” became viral on social media in the same year which gained 2.2 million views, 74k reactions, and 41k shares.

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They published their EP album a year later, and in 2019, the pair signed with Viva Records and released two songs, including “Pagsibol”, which was also nominated for Best World Music Recording at the 33rd Awit Awards.

“Palawan”, meanwhile, was a song written in 2017 and released in 2020 amidst the pandemic.

According to Mara, half of High Hello, the song nearly didn’t make it to the platforms because they believed it was the wrong moment to release it, especially because the song’s goal is to urge people to visit Palawan, which was still under lockdown at the time.

She also added that it was their first time receiving an award, which was fortuitous given the lineup of nominated artists, which included the Itchyworms, Leanne&Naara, and Jason Dhakal.

“Sobrang worth it yung oras and pagmamahal na ginugol namin sa paggawa hanggang sa pag record ng song. Sobrang lapit po sa puso namin ng song na to dahil ito yung lagi namin dala dala kahit saan kami magpunta,” Rizada said in a conversation with Palawan News.

“Kapag kakantahin namin yung song na Palawan, lagi nila sinasabi, ‘Gusto ko na pumunta sa Palawan’, kaya naman ang award na ito ay hindi lang para sa amin, kundi para sa Palawan,” she added.

Mara’s and Jaycen’s goal was to promote Palawan not just as a tourist destination, but also as a home for talented artists.

Earlier this year, High Hello announced its hiatus to focus on their personal endeavors.

Despite their break, the two are still following their musical passions and affection for the region in separate ways. Mara works in the provincial government and does concerts, while Jaycen performs on Kumu and other social media platforms.

Mara left a message to inspire other Palaweño musicians or aspiring artists to persevere regardless.

“Lagi po naming sinasabi yung lyrics ng song namin na Pagsibol, ‘ituloy tuloy tuloy mo lang, lahat ay itinakda sa tamang oras’,” she stated.

“Maraming salamat Awit Awards, Viva Records at sa lahat ng tumulong at naniwala sa aming musika. Mula Palawan, para sa Palawan,” High Hello, in a Facebook post, thanked their supporters.

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is a student-intern reporter of Palawan News and is currently taking up Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies at University of the Philippines Visayas. She covers special reports in tourism, business and other human interest stories. Her interests includes singing, painting, and volunteering in civic organizations like the Girl Scouts of the Philippines.