10 Vispop songs to get you hooked on the genre
MANILA, Philippines – Growing up in Cebu, I never paid much attention to Visayan songs.
My young ears only listened to the music of the Backstreet Boys, Shania Twain, and the Meteor Garden soundtrack. The few OPM songs that were on my radar back then were from singers like Nina and King.
Visayan songs were filed away as "lola music" due to the likes of "Usahay" and other classic songs of a bygone era.
It wasn't until I moved to Manila and began missing the sounds of home that I learned about an entire genre of music based on my native dialect. One day, I clicked on a YouTube link, and it led me to the funniest hugot song I have ever heard. I would later learn that this type of tongue-in-cheek humor is what epitomizes modern Visayan songs.
Thus began my love affair with Visayan music, locally known as Vispop (Visayan pop music) and Bisrock (Bisaya rock music).
Over the years, and through all my cravings for home, I've gathered a small collection of favorites from Visayan artists.
Here are 10 songs that are guaranteed to get you into the Vispop genre:
'Gugmang Giatay' by The Ambassadors
"Gugumang Giatay" is what many in my generation consider our entry song into the Bisrock genre. This song brings back awkward but happy sepia-toned memories of high school students giggling in school halls while defiantly singing the titular curse word: "giatay (damned)."
A slow and memorable tune straight out of the Visayan song vault, it is as easy to remember as it is to fall in love with. We all dedicated this song to our one true loves.
'Inday' by Missing Filemon
A 90s classic Visayan rock song by one of the pillars of the Bisrock community, "Inday" is a song from Missing Filemon's debut album – arguably the very first Bisrock album – released in 2003.
When I watched Patay Na Si Hesus last year and this song played in one of the scenes, the entire cinema slowly began to sing along. It made me realize just how this kind of music can connect Bisaya people even in Manila.
'Bisan Pa' by WetSlipperz
It's the perfect song to belt out to at a karaoke as you think about the one that got away. Here, WetSlipperz rocks out to a song about the suffering that comes with a lost love.
This is another song that will sound familiar to almost anyone who has lived in the Visayas and Mindanao area. It's also a song that was translated into Tagalog as "Kahit Na."
'HAHAHAHasula' by Kurt Fick
This is a song about a love that doesn't love back, a one-sided affair that both enthralls and devastates, and a love that persists despite the hopelessness. It's also about how, sometimes, when all these elements combine, there's nothing else left to do but laugh it off.
Kurt Fick, in this song especially, is all of us.
"HAHAHAHasula" made such big waves when it was released that I even heard it playing on Manila-based radio stations.
'Baklay' by Jerika Teodorico
Summer's here, and that means it's time to call your friends for a fun day around town!
This feel-good song in Jerika Teodorico's signature light and upbeat style, talks about the joys of laag-laag (lakwatsa, strolling) around different places in Cebu, even if it means running out of cash.
A word of caution: This tune will make you want to shake it all the way from Talamban to Argao. Just make sure to avoid your scoundrel of an ex.
'Solid Ug Lawas' by Smooth Friction
This isn't your usual rock song.
It's a coming of age story – full of anguish and painfully unreachable goals – wrapped up in a frustratingly funny rock song. If you've ever felt like you're just not good enough, this song will help you laugh it off.
Smooth Friction will leave you laughing out loud at the absurdity of the situations the main character gets in – all in the name of love.
'Duyog' by Jewel Villaflores
Imagine a cold, windy night spent at home in the warm embrace of the person you love the most. That is how this song – and Jewel Villaflores' cool voice – makes you feel. It was also sung by Kim Chiu's character in Etiquette for Mistresses – a perfect fit for a character who was, ultimately, only in want of love.
A romantic song you can dance to in a wedding, this song is chock-full of some of the most beautiful Bisaya words and phrases.
'Kung Di Pa Lang Ko Buang' by Chai Fonacier
We've all been there: young, hopeless, most probably broke, and very surely clueless about how the world works. Chai Fonacier expertly mixes a catchy beat with her tongue-in-cheek wit in this ode to anyone who has ever felt they should have known better.
Not only is she the talented actress from Patay Na Si Hesus and Respeto, Fonacier is also a gifted musician, as proven by this jazzy tune.
'Liar Evil' by Aggressive Audio
Need a new song to dedicate to your no-good ex? Try something in Bisaya for a change.
Aggressive Audio presents the story of a young man who's down on his luck and has managed to do everything wrong. There is no happy ending, just lies and a great karaoke song.
This is a funny song that many have come to associate with the Visayan song genre, and one which my friends from Manila enjoy hearing despite the language barrier.
'My Morena Girl' by Hey Joe Show
Why, oh why, wasn't I born a morena? When 5 young Americans began their Bisaya-speaking YouTube channel back in 2014 called the "Hey Joe Show," they became instant celebrities.
3 years later, they are now veritable rock stars that have girls swooning.
This song – and Sumner Mahaffey's deep crooning voice – has everything it takes to reduce listeners into a writhing ball of kilig.
Love them or hate them, to me, these songs feel like home somehow.
So the next time you're feeling nostalgic or you just want to belt out your feelings, put on your earphones and play a couple of these Vispop songs! A few tears may be shed, but it will always end in laughter.
Do you have any Visayan song recommendations? Write about your favorite songs and artists on X! –Rappler.com