Mr. C on PhilPOP, Ang Pintig & realizing dreams

LIVE FEED - Bibsy M. Carballo - The Philippine Star

To most of us familiar with the sorry conditions of Philippine OPM recording, being suddenly confronted at a presscon with so much hope and positive vibes from producers, singers, composers and songwriters was just the kick-in-the-butt needed to leave the bad news behind.

Most especially if it was Ryan Cayabyab, Mr. C to all, and executive director of the PhilPOP (Philippine Popular Music Festival) who was delivering the kicks.

And what was all the rejoicing about? It was the good news from PhilPOP of the inroads it has accomplished in so short a period in 2012. The songwriting competition had spawned almost 3,000 song entries. An album of 14 diverse songs from the competition finalists is now on its way to achieving platinum record sales. We know this is close to miraculous.

The album PhilPOP Music Festival 2012 consists of new songs in various styles, with music and lyrics from some familiar names — a wounded Gary Granada, forlorn lover Soc Villanueva, deliriously triumphant Trina Belamide, ever hopeful Mike Villegas and interpreters like Sam Concepcion, Mark Bautista and the Akafellas, Gary Granada, Joey Ayala, Jay-R and Nyoy Volante.

What is the secret of its success? We listen to the album, to each song several times. They are different yet share an approach influenced by this new thinking that rules our lives, that impacts on even our favored medium of the love song. This is most obvious in the P1M grand prize-winning love song Bawat Hakbang, music and lyrics by Karl Villuga. It see-saws between helplessness “Tila hindi ko na kaya/ Madalas ay natutulala” and expectant confidence “Ang bawat hakbang ay kaya ko na/ Dahil natandaan kong kasama kita.” Its approach is lively, interpretations by Bautista and The Akafellas bouncy; we find our feet tapping with the song. The piece also need not be a romantic ditty. It could also be a tribute to a mentor, a best friend.

To us, however, Gary’s Minsa’y May Isang Bansa still dominates for its heartfelt lyrics and the singer’s obvious experience in music-making. It is sad, yet not quite hopeless, the perfect theme song for an indie portraying the depths of a nation’s despair. “Minsa’y isang bansa ay nagsisikap, na samantalahin ang panahon. Minsa’y isang bansa ay nangangarap na sana’y mahalin mo na ngayon.” We love it, but like Gary, who is all too suddenly the lolo, we find our grandchildren singing a different tune. Mike Villegas’ Negastar does better by delivering a message similar to Gary’s, but is more reachable with “Ang bigat ng bagahe mo na lagi mong pasan-pasan…Huwag kang Negastar! Ngumiti ka lang, Ang panaginip mararating!”  

We understand why the album is selling. It deals with our everyday aches and personal pains. Some songs may appear as unrefined to many as Takusa, but we are told that this number has been rated favorite in many places. The album is teaching us that there are, indeed, many ways of skinning a cat.

The best news, nevertheless, is that the second edition of the PhilPOP competition is ready to accept entries on Jan. 1, 2013. Same rules apply from last year’s — open to Filipino composer-lyricists residing here or abroad, never yet performed, a maximum of two songs in MP3 format and maximum of four minutes in length. Theme for 2013 is “Ako ang Musikang Pilipino.”  

Apart from this, Mr. C announced a dream project that had just been approved by big boss Manny V. Pangilinan’s PhilPOP MusicFest Foundation as a side project to start also in 2013. Dubbed Ang Pintig, it involves publication of a book containing the best Filipino love songs from the last century to today. One book per year is Mr. C’s goal. Involved are immense research and interviews on the lives of the chosen composers and lyricists. Lyrics and arrangements of each song will be included in this book to be sent to embassies, schools, all corners of the earth, translated in all major languages. The Filipino will be deified, no longer as singer of the world, but also as songwriter of the world, a homage long-overdue. 

In addition, there is that invitation from Mr. C for 10 new compositions to be included in the book each year. “Can you imagine how many songs that will be after 10 years, and how many of our best musicians and composers would have been celebrated,” he muses. The theme would again be love, but one of a higher degree, less personal, more sublime, touching on love of country, the environment, our God.

Mr. C is deliriously on a roll. Thanks to MVP. Thanks to one whose heart and pocketbook are on the same wavelength.      

(E-mail me at [email protected].)









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