PhilPOP 2013

Songwriter search is on!
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte

The PhilPOP Foundation (PFI) continues to enrich Filipino music through its second installment of the annual search for excellent Pinoy music composers, whether residing here or abroad, who can showcase musical ingenuity and passion to an overwhelming degree. Pinoy music is a genuine expression of Filipinos not only as a unified group but also as individuals. This is the very reason why the PFI established the Philippine Popular Music Festival (PhilPOP) last year, and is already setting the stage for the 2013 finals come July.
“This undertaking would shed light on deserving songwriters who could spark change through their writing and music. We will also go for the copyright protection of all songs. One day soon, we’ll produce another global song like Freddie Aguilar’s Anak,” shared executive director Ryan Cayabyab during an exclusive interview.
The PFI is once again giving Filipinos the opportunity to become their own inspiration; something that can be cascaded to future generations, who in turn can create their own music for posterity.
The competition has acquired so much excitement since its kick-off mid of last year simply because of Filipinos’ shared love for music. And with the spotlight being focused on songwriters now is indeed an enormous and noble undertaking that is long overdue. So much hype was garnered to the effect that a record of nearly 3,000 song entries came from close to a hundred cities around the world! Through the musical brilliance of these composers, the tradition of showcasing Pinoy pride and talent has been strengthened. All around the world, the Pinoy talent continues to sparkle and PhilPOP only saw the undeniable potential of our own songwriters.
“We will also revive the Metropop. It takes a popular vehicle to shake the industry and lobby the Filipino music industry to support an endeavor like this. Last year, we received a hundred and fifty entrants from abroad and 1,600 from outside Metro Manila.,” Mr. C continued.
The music festival is an advocate of Pinoy sound, being a cultural treasure that helps in shaping the identity of our people and the country. It seeks to enrich original Pilipino music (OPM) and educate us and the future generations on its uniqueness and importance. It seeks to resound and preserve the vanishing, perhaps extant, musical gems like our kundiman; further seeking to empower Filipino songwriters whose compositions can inspire and motivate a nation.
“Music can be a commentary and speak for social change. Bayan Ko, Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo and Magkaisa put forth very patriotic sentiments. It could also promote tourism and culture in such tunes as Halina Byahe Tayo and Limang Dipang Tao. Also, it could be for inspirational and/or spiritual upliftment in songs like Shine and Tell the World of His Love,” the Maestro elucidated.
PhilPOP was specially produced to shed light on deserving songwriters who can inspire and spark positive change through music. Amidst a sea of singers, actors, and other frontline performers, songwriters have finally gotten the appreciation and support they deserve, from the very people whose lives they have touched.
“Music can also be written for educational purposes like Gary Granada’s Math song or the traditional Paa, Tuhod, Balikat, Ulo. It could also be for accompanying dance movements (whether folk or modern) as well as theatre productions like Sumunod, Sumayaw or Minsan ang Minahal ay Ako (from Katy, The Musical). Songs can also be written for commercial and economic purposes like jingles to sell merchandise or as theme song to a specific product such as tooth paste. Remember “Closer You & I?” Mr. C enumerated.
A lot of foreign influence has been integrated into the local music scene. Filipinos are not only listening to international music but are also composing their own sound reminiscent of what they hear and see, yet still putting in their own unique local flavor. While it is terrific that the local musical caliber is developing through external influences, there is still an obligation to come up with original and innovative material.
“Lest we forget, music is most often written to entertain. We hear them essayed in the soliloquy of a husband in Takuza or the innate humor in Yoyoy Villame’s Mag-Exercise Tayo Tuwing Umaga. Music, therefore, communicates ideas and expression mirroring life in general.”
PhilPOP’s aim was to revive the nation’s latent love for Filipino music. In a society full of cluttered and meaningless lyrics, there was a definite need to push a giant undertaking like PhilPOP in order to remind people where our music would and should be headed. As everyone would agree, music is an irreplaceable force that binds people together, from all around the globe and from all walks of life.
“Ako ang Musikerong Pilipino will be the battlecry for PhilPOP 2013. Songs submitted as entries should not have been performed live in public, recorded or heard on radio and TV so that entries are really new and fresh.”
Better things are surely in store for PhilPOP, the PFI and the Filipino music industry in general. Apart from the songwriting competition, the PhilPOP also embarked on a nationwide tour teaching songwriting and music appreciation through the Songwriting with the Maestro series, which has reached thousands of students and other enthusiasts from several parts of the archipelago.
“The ‘Pintig: Tibok ng Musikang Pilipino’ project will be a spin-off of this venture. Classics from the last quarter of the 20th century and first decade of the 21st century will be contained in a music book and will be sent to schools here and abroad as well as to Philippine embassies so that it becomes available to foreign artists who may want to interpret it and thus become globally popular through recall. Ten entries will be added each year thereafter to the volume. These songs will be in vocal/piano formats and music sheets in Filipino languages.”
With Maestro Ryan spearheading this momentous venture as its executive director, the established members of the foundation, prominent business partners (Maynilad, Smart, Meralco, PLDT, Resorts World Manila and TV5), and well-known composers have become avid supporters of this movement. And based on the nearly 3,000 entries in 2012, Filipinos from all across the globe embraced the challenge of pushing their boundaries to create something that would appeal to every audiophile. “The 3,000 entries will be narrowed down to a thousand, then to a hundred. From there, 30 works will be picked out and the committee en banc will then decide who’ll make up the 14 finalists.”
“Nation building is something the Manny V. Pangilinan Foundation, our benefactor, is into – from roads, power, healthcare, unto communications among many others. In the same vein, PhilPOP builds our nation as well. There lies the parallel. From our end, we revive our nation’s love for Filipino music, to remind us where our sound should be headed.”
Last year, 14 fantastic and diverse songwriters had the opportunity to be part of the PhilPOP competition and the album recording it produced is on its way of achieving platinum record status. The finalists have also had the opportunity of being part of an important advocacy by inspiring and sharing their know-how and experiences to thousands of other budding young songwriters from all over the country. PhilPOP 2012 was able to accomplish everything that Maestro Ryan and the rest of the trustees wanted and they are set to continue to break boundaries this year.
It is not merely about competing for the P1-million prize but the legacy one leaves behind, though Karl Villuga of Akafellas, the first-ever champion certainly appreciated it. He sang his winning piece, “Bawat Hakbang,” with Mark Bautista and the rest of the Akafellas. He is currently in Singapore on a study grant. At the end of the day, joining the competition is all about making our music flourish; letting the songwriters shine in the process, whilst boosting Pinoy pride.
“PhilPOP is the DNA of Filipino music, that’s our raison d’etre. Music is the language of our souls. If all Filipinos feel good then we are happy Filipinos,” the Maestro said in closing.
The PFI sees Filipino music as a cultural treasure and an indication of Pinoy identity – something that should not be neglected nor taken for granted. The finals night on July 6th is the promise of even greater things to come for the music industry. The story that is being written in music history is not yet finished, and in fact is now on its next chapter as PhilPOP is bracing to stage the second edition of the competition. Interested songwriters can start sending their original song entries from now ‘til the end of February 2013 through


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