Fil-Am musician Jeremy Passion: ‘It’s not about the views’

Ryan Macasero
'What is a million views if you’re not using a million views for something that’s important?'

MANILA, Philippines – He doesn’t seem to mind the labels, but Jeremy Manongdo, 27, a Fil-Am singer and songwriter – better known as “Passion” – became a music sensation online long before popular video sharing platform YouTube was even born.

It all started with a song called Lemonade which he uploaded on a site called in 2003, when he was just a teenager. “I had no idea it was going to get this big,” Passion told Rappler during a #BalikBayan Hangout. The song quickly became a love song anthem for many Fil-Ams and other teens across the United States, and around the world.  

He said a hot day in San Francisco – a city that isn’t normally hot, a tall glass of lemonade, and comparing it to being in a good relationship, inspired the song.

Then YouTube came along in 2005. His YouTube channel has 235,000 subscribers and a combined total of 36 million views across the channel.

Passion was here for his first Southeast Asian tour, with his first stop in Manila. He performed at the Music Museum on Friday, March 21. It was also his first solo concert here.

He never expected that songs recorded at home with very basic equipment could reach millions of people around the world.

“I don’t think there’s a formula to capture somebody’s attention,” said Passion. But while the mold for artists signed to major record labels could be quite formulaic, Passion says Internet musicians have more freedom in their music. “You have to act a certain way, look a certain way, you have to have sex appeal to reach out to people” Passion said, referring to some artists who sign to record labels. “The Internet has made it [in a way that] it’s not about that per se. People will watch who they really enjoy.” 

The number of Filipino American musicians posting their music on YouTube is growing, but Passion does not see competition there. “In California, for the Filipino community, it’s like we’ve devised our own community of artists,” he says. But “it’s not a competition,” he clarifies. “I feel like we support each other 200%.”  

Online musicians

What makes Passion’s music click with YouTubers? “I would say my music is real, honest, soulful,” he says. “I think they see I’m not just singing. I do have a message in my music.”

Passion released his first album in 2011 and did it without a major record label. He was able to fund the release of For More Than a Feeling. Some popular songs on the album include Suddenly, Lemonade, and 32.

The album was financed by the crowdfunding website He had an initial goal of $10,000 (or about P450,000), but he was able to exceed this and raise $20,000 to fund the record and a European tour.

Passion has been to over 17 countries to perform and has been to Ghana, in West Africa, to volunteer to help impoverished communities in rural villages there. 

He emphasizes that it’s not about the hits or views, but what you do with the views.

“What is a million views if you’re not using a million views for something that’s important? If you’re a singer, artist, dancer or painter and you get these views for doing something you really enjoy doing, use it to help others, to nourish, encourage and inspire other people,” he says. –

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Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers social welfare for Rappler. He started at Rappler as social media producer in 2013, and later took on various roles for the company: editor for the #BalikBayan section, correspondent in Cebu, and general assignments reporter in the Visayas region. He graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a degree in international studies and a minor in political science. Outside of work, Ryan performs spoken word poetry and loves attending local music gigs. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmacasero or drop him leads for stories at