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14 PhilPOP finalists revealed

MANILA, Philippines - The organizers of the upcoming Philippine Popular Music Festival recently unveiled the chosen 14 finalists in the search for the next big Filipino songwriter.

The finalists were chosen out of a record-breaking 3,000 entries submitted by Filipino songwriters all over the world. Entries came from as far as the United Kingdom, France, and Canada; and as near as Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. The entries were then divided among—and subsequently screened by—over 100 adjudicators, who in turn were comprised of various musicians, artists, record executives, and media practictioners. Radio Republic Program Director (and Imago drummer) Zach Lucero was among the adjudicators, which also included Barbie Almalbis, Ebe Dancel, Eugene Villaluz, and Babsie Molina among others.

The 3,000 entries where whittled down to 1,000 which went through another series of screenings, out of which 100 entries were picked, which were then trimmed down to 32. The final 32 entries were subsequently trimmed down to the final 14, all spanning different genres of music.

The finalists are: “Bigtime” by Trina Belamide, “Negastar” by Mike Villegas, “Takusa” by Byron Ricamara, “Tayo Tayo Lang” by Ronaldo Sorioso, “Piso” by Kristofferson Melecio, “Kontrabida” by Soc Villanueva, “3AM” by Keiko Necesario, “Brown” by James Leyte and Jezreel De Oca, “Slowdancing” by John Kennard Eleazar Faraon, “Dulo ng Dila” by Noah Zuñiga Cabalquinto, “Bawat Hakbang” by Karl Vincent Villuga, “Minsa'y Isang Bansa” by Gary Granada, “Himig ng Panahon” by Timothy Alfaro, and “Kesa” by Edwin Marollano.

The entries' themes range from nationalism (“Brown,” “Minsa'y Isang Bansa”), social commentary (“Himig ng Panahon,” “Piso,” “Negastar”), and, of course, love (“3 A.M.,” “Slowdancing”).

PhilPOP Executive Director maestro Ryan Cayabyab (who also hosts 'Muchikahan' with Jay Durias here on Radio Republic) feels positive about the contest. “This is an exciting time for the music industry. With PhilPOP, we are helping shape the future landscape of OPM. The talent and the potential of the Filipino songwriter has always been there. We've proven it many times over.”

When asked about whether OPM is 'dead,' he declares, “Hindi patay ang Filipino music! Wala lang malabasan.”

For finalist Alfaro who goes by the RnB monicker Thyro, “Filipino music is so much more than covers, and we can prove it here in this festival.” His song “Himig ng Panahon” is a statement on discouraging conformity and thinking unconventionally.

Veteran songwriter Belamide finds it exciting to be part of PhilPOP. “It's not the same old faces! We get to exchange new ideas, and I'm looking forward to the festival.”

The final interpreters of the finalists' songs will be unveiled soon, and recordings will be streamed online.

All Top 14 finalists get to receive P50,000 each. The top winning entry will win P1 million in cash, while the two runners-up will each receive P500,000 and P250,000 respectively. All of them will also receive trophies designed by artist Ramon Orlina. A People's Choice award (P200,000 and a trophy) will also be given to the entry with the most number of text votes.

The awards night will be held on July 14, 2012 at the PICC Plenary Hall, and will be broadcast on TV5. 

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