MANILA, Philippines – The first Metro Manila Popular Music Festival [in 1977] is very close to my heart. I was then at a dilemma whether to finish my Bachelor of Music course at the University of the Philippines College of Music or not. I had been in and out of college like most young professional musicians making a living, working as a full-time musician.
I remember telling myself in September 1977 as I recorded my song entry “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika” that if I’d lose the contest I would say goodbye to work and finish my studies instead. And if I did win the contest I would have to stop schooling and concentrate on professional work. True to what has transpired, I stopped going to school the following year but eventually returned to finish all my requirements in 1983!
Listen to ‘Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika’ here:
The first Philippine Popular Music Festival was launched in 2012, a good 35 years after the first Metro Pop, which was born on March 8, 1977 and officially launched on August 15 of the same year. Written in the program of the grand finals night held on March 3, 1978 was one of the Metro Pop objectives:
“To develop, promote and enhance popular Filipino music by providing the proper vehicle by which it could be properly given exposure in the country and eventually abroad.”
The Philpop Musicfest Foundation shares the same vision, although it is not 100% right to say that both festivals were born out of a reaction to the same problems and needs of the times. It is uncanny that part of the same reason applies to the present.
I again quote from the program to show how it was back then, and how much Philippine pop music culture, it seems, has not changed in the last 35 years:
“Philippine popular music is at its most promising stage today. The wide acceptance of current Filipino tunes indicates that local audiences have finally come to appreciate and recognize the merits of original Filipino compositions. This growth of nationalism, so to speak, signifies a reaction against foreign dominance of the local music industry, and the realization of the need to establish a musical identity of our own.”
It reads like it was written only yesterday.
But wait. There had been great OPM (Original Pilipino MUsic) acts that had come and gone in the past 35 years, and there is a lot of movement happening in the present OPM scene. When the solo stars of the ’70s and ’80s made way for the emergence of the biggest band acts of the ’90s to 2000s, and the most memorable songs ever written remain memorable, what are we harping about?
Yes, we felt the Canto-Pop ripple (Taiwan-Pop to be more specific, with F4 et al), J-Pop, and later (still current) K-Pop invasion — I firmly believe these will all pass.
We Pinoys are voracious consumers of popular music. I have never seen so many foreign musical acts landing on our shores and accorded the de-rigueur adulation given these. The Filipino pop music consumer has never had it so good.
Why, even lesser known imported musical acts — aptly described as indie or non-mainstream acts — are performing in sold-out events! And there are many of them coming one after the other. I can hear many local performers saying, “Enough already.”
Listen to Philpop 2012 grand prize winner ‘Bawat Hakbang’ here:
But why feel defeated?
If you ask me, this situation only makes me want to roll up my sleeves and give it the competition it deserves.
There is so much more we can offer, believe me. And to think we have just started.
We just need to be more diligent, need to work harder, research further, analyze more, and aggressively create more original music material.
Which brings me to what my original intention was, writing this piece.:
If you want to make a difference in the Pinoy pop music scene, you could contribute by submitting the hit song, or the winning song, or tomorrow’s classic song in this year’s edition of the Philippine Popular Music Festival 2013.
You have a couple more days to write and upload that song that might have the entire country singing this year and the years to come!
Philpop is accepting original song entries on www.philpop.com.ph until April 15. Full details of the competition are available on the website.
(Philpop is supported by Maynilad, Smart, Meralco, PLDT, Resorts World Manila, TV5, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, NLEX, Sun Cellular, the First Pacific Leadership Academy, KBP, and Philex.)