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Folk singer-songwriter Noel Cabangon took home the Album of the Year trophy for his record, Byahe, in the 23rd Awit Awards staged last September 30.  He expressed surprise that a folk artist like him would win the award. Photo: Noel Orsal

The Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI) honored OPM (Original Pilipino Music) standouts for year 2009 with the staging of the 23rd Awit Awards, held last September 30 at Centerstage, SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

This year's installment of the annual prestigious local music event carried the theme of a live concert—significantly reducing the time allotted on nominee presentations and sidelights commonly seen on awards night.

Hosting the pre-awarding event were radio disc jockeys turned celebrities Nicole Hyala and Chris Tsuper who, incidentally, were nominated in the Best Novelty Recording category for their single "Mahal Kita Kasi."

Singer-songwriter Yeng Constantino and 6cyclemind drummer Tutti Caringal of ABS-CBN's late-night show Music Uplate Live served as lead hosts for the second part of the program together with singer-actress Karylle.

Folk singer-songwriter Noel Cabangon emerged as one of the big winners, taking home the Best Performance by a Male Recording Artist trophy for his rendition of "Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko," Best Song Written for Movie / TV/ Stage Play award for "Ang Buhay Nga Naman" and Best World Recording for "Binibini."

Cabangon's most notable award for the night, however, was the Album of the Year for his 15-track album aptly titled Byahe. While the album's cover and inlay photos were taken during the singer-songwriter's visit to Denmark, the songs are certified local gems, like "Ipagpatawad Mo," Tuloy Pa Rin," and "Di Na Natuto," among others.

Rapper Gloc 9's socio-political song "Upuan" bagged Song of the Year honors, aside from bringing home the trophy for Best Collaboration, Best Rap Recording, and Best Engineered Recording.

Controversial host Willie Revillame pulled off a surprise after his Ikaw Na Nga album was chosen as the Best Selling Album of the Year.

Star Records managing director and Awit Awards chairperson Annabelle Regalado-Borja received the trophy in behalf of Willie, saying, "Mapa-Kapamilya ka man ngayon o mapa-Kapatid, mananatili kang Kapamilya ng Star Records."

YouTube sensations Moymoy Palaboy cornered the Best Novelty Recording for "Lumayo Ka Man Sa Laklak"—a hybrid of Rodel Naval's classic ballad "Lumayo Ka Man" and '90s rock band Teeth's signature anthemic hit, "Laklak."

Fast-rising band Franco's single "Castaway" was named Best Performance by a Group Recording Artist, while the soulful Kat Agarrado and the rest of Sinosikat? clinched the Best Jazz Recording trophy for their funky remake of "Mr. Musikero."

The Dangal ng Musikang Pilipino honors were bestowed on pioneering female rocker Sampaguita, the influential folk rock group Asin, and Filipino jazz icon Boy Katindig.

Performers that evening were Ogie Alcasid, Letter Day Story, Skabeche, Kyle Balili, Aria Clemente, Hannah Flores, Sam Concepcion, Sinosikat? Protein Shake and 6Cyclemind's Tutti Caringal, Callalily's Kean Cipriano, Ney Dimaculangan of 6cyclemind, Jay R, Kyla, Young JV, Six Part Invention, Bugoy Drilon, Lito Camo, Carol Banawa, Jay Durias, and Yeng Constantino.

The most impressive performance of the evening was delivered by a collection of artists: Yael Yuzon, Sabrina, Top Suzara, Aiza Seguerra, Noelle Cassandra, Princess, and Toto Sorioso.

All singers and performers took turns in performing past Song of the Year winners like "Yugto," "Rainbow," "Forever," "Kailan," "Narda," "Kailangan Ko'y Ikaw," and "Hallelujah."