OPM finds fresh interpreters in Baguio

Elizabeth Lolarga - The Philippine Star
OPM finds fresh interpreters in Baguio
Jasmin Salvo, Kay Balajadia Liggayu and Jan Briane Astom

MANILA, Philippines — There’s this misunderstanding that Original Pilipino Music (OPM) is only in the Filipino language. Soprano Jasmin Salvo, one of the singers in OPM Revisited: Mga Awit na May Hugot set on Oct. 5, 5:30 p.m. at Canto (32 Kisad Road, Baguio City), believes that “these songs are not just in Filipino but can also be in English. They show how great the Filipinos are in the arts, especially in music.”

Her fellow soprano Kay Balajadia Liggayu defines OPM as “modern or contemporary songs written by Filipinos. They are distinct from the kundiman or other traditional Filipino songs, folk songs, ethnic music, Filipino torch songs, Filipino rock music, although you find elements of these other traditional models of Filipino music. OPM, written by Filipinos of experiences as Filipinos, indicates patriotism.”

She continues, “The fact that this is a genre of Filipino music that is regularly played and performed in all kinds of media by popular artists makes it familiar. OPM embodies the changing attitudes and experiences of Filipinos. It utilizes local and international influences and reflects the musical genius and capability of the Filipino composer.”

Tenor Jan Briane “JB” Astom says, “OPM is music written by Filipinos for Filipinos. It doesn’t necessarily have to be patriotic. In fact, a huge chunk of Filipino music I have encountered is about romantic love. This speaks a lot about how we Filipinos are emotional in nature. From Nicanor Abelardo to Moira, we have found a myriad ways to express the joys and pains of falling in love and everything in between.”

Asked to define hugot and which local singer epitomizes it, Jasmin says, “Hugot seems to be a very in term for something that means straight from the heart and guts. I love the song Sana Maulit Muli by Gary Valenciano or Regine Velasquez. The qualities of hugot are: first the lyrics, if I can relate to them and it feels like the song knows what I’m going through. Second is the accompaniment, if it matches the lyrics and adds more feeling to it.”

Kay agrees with Jasmin, adding, “Listen to Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan and you will understand why.”

JB confesses to love hugot songs which he calls “happy love songs that make me kilig. Some of my favorite OPM songs are hugot and challenging for my voice. That’s why I love Lani Misalucha and Regine. Happy love songs don’t need to be challenging. I just love to listen to them and relax. Hugot is raw emotion transformed into musical form.”

They are one in saying that Ryan Cayabyab’s Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika embodies the OPM spirit. Jasmin says, “I love the lyrics of the song, they show how beautiful our Filipino music is. It is very festive. It makes me prouder because it won a lot of awards not just in the Philippines.”

JB adds, “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika does a good job of telling the Filipino people’s relationship with its songs and how it has become an integral part of someone’s life.”

Apart from Ryan, Kay cites these artists and composers who gave meaning to OPM: “The generation of Kuh Ledesma, Basil Valdez, Hajji Alejandro, Ogie Alcasid, Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera, Sharon Cuneta, Joey Albert, Regine, composers Louie Ocampo, Vehnee Saturno, George Canseco, Odette Quesada. During their time, the rise of OPM was recognized and validated. The songs sung by this group were all not just beautiful to listen to but the lyrics were deeply personal. A lot of these songs became titles of telenovelas, movies and hugot lines.”

Two of the singers, Jasmin and JB, were part of the successful run of The American Songbook concert series in Baguio last summer. Jasmin says “OPM Revisited is different from The American Songbook because the songs are closer to my heart and we can relate more to it. These are the songs that I usually heard when I was younger.” 

JB says, “OPM Revisited presents fewer challenges to us, interpretation-wise, because we do not have to think outside of our lived experiences as Filipinos. The songs in our program present unique facets of our Filipino identities which we do not need to learn elsewhere because they either continue to be a reality for us or they have been passed down to us by our elders.”

The three will be accompanied by prize-winning pianist Paul Casiano, a big fan of the songs of Parokya ni Edgar in his youth.

(Canto is preparing a special cocktails menu ranging from Baguio’s fresh salads to proteins to desserts, including non-alcoholic drinks for the non-drinkers, before the concert proper. For ticket inquiries, call or text Dimps Blanco at 0915-888-3525. OPM Revisited is presented by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Genesis Transportation Service, Inc., Mother’s Garden and Restaurant, Musar Music, University of the Philippines Baguio Committee on Culture and the Arts, Cultural Arts Event Organizer and Guacamole Productions.)



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