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Entertainment

Meg Zurbito reflects on her humble beginnings in music

Jerry Donato - The Philippine Star
Meg Zurbito reflects on her humble beginnings in music
From being a student-singer, Meg is now an Ivory Music & Video talent. She has recently released her single, Panandalian, about lovers’ broken promises that lead to a breakup and heartaches. The song, however, reminds Meg that her love affair with music is never fleeting.
STAR / File

Year after year, with or without pandemic, the local recording scene is flooded with new talents, who wish that their unique voice and musicality be heard. One of them is Meg Zurbito of Ivory Music & Video, who recently released her single, Panandalian.

In the customary, new-normal media call, Meg sat cozily in a room that doubled as her waiting and interview room. She tried to relax her nerves as Meg anticipated the questions that would be thrown at her. But the singer-songwriter definitely found her center to finish another interview, set for her in one fine afternoon.

“I saw my siblings playing instruments like the guitar and, (at some point,) nainggit ako (I wished I could do the same thing),” Meg looked back on how music got her interest. “My dad taught me how to play the guitar, like the basic chords of a song, but I couldn’t learn.”

Despite that failed initial attempt, Meg knew, deep down in her heart, that she had a special feeling for music. It intensified more as she grew up, surrounded by a sister and a brother, who were a cover band member and a songwriting contestant, respectively.

“In the house, we had a complete set-up of drums, mixer, speakers,” recalled Meg, who also dabbled herself in playing the ukulele, guitar, violin and saxophone. But it was in college that Meg somehow realized that she had a calling for music performance.

“At that time, I was in my third year in college and stressed by school work,” shared Meg, an Entrepreneurship graduate at the University of Caloocan. “Performing was one of the things that I looked forward to (after school). At the end of the day, (I would toy with the idea that) ‘May gig ako at magiging masaya ako dun.’”

She would attend open mic sessions and grace gigs in bars like Route 196. In her first open mic, Meg brought her ukulele and guitar for her performances and was accompanied by her dad and siblings. “It was my dad who pushed me to give it a try,” said Meg. “I had doubts if I could do it because I thought then that what I was doing was pambahay lang. Hindi ako kinabahan because of the support (of my family) and nakapikit lang ako all throughout (my parts).”

As an artist who was on the road of music discovery, Meg couldn’t deny the bliss she could get from performing and the sense of belongingness from watching fellow singers and musicians, who would churn out song after song.

“‘This is what I want to do,’” Meg whispered to herself in those defining moments. “Gusto kong maramdaman din ng tao kung ano yung nararamdaman ko (I want the audience to feel what I feel). Ang saya pala nito (The feeling was great).” Invitations for a bar gig poured in and Meg simply embraced them. An open mic, in which she was a part of, in her go-to-place, Route 196, led for Ivory Music & Video to discover Meg’s talent. Their collaboration is Panandalian, with a music video now available on YouTube. As a wont, Meg wore the dual hat of singer and songwriter. As a hook of the song, she explored the theme of panandalian or the impermanence of things.

“I wrote the song at the time when I thought that what I had done in music was panandalian,” remembered Meg, who also experienced bashing from some who couldn’t understand her music, but saw it as a creative opportunity to write more songs. “This is one of those songs. I felt that parang napadaan lang ako dito, hindi talaga ako para dito (I just passed by this road and I didn’t belong here).” But after that, came the realization that Meg could start a career in music and her dad became a constant voice in reminding her to continue on.

So, Panandalian, the song is a testament to Meg’s tale of finding her place in the Pinoy music scene and her always move-forward attitude towards her career. As a line from her song goes, “Kung aalis ka rin lang pala, bakit pa ba nasimulan.”

Panandalian, a song about broken promises that lead to a breakup, is a follow-up to her previous releases such as Salamat, Paalam and Pakiusap. She, too, has her own take on Silent Sanctuary’s Pasensya Ka Na.

Meg, the composer added that Panandalian was originally written for another singer and Meg, the artist believed that once a song has been released, it is, in a way, owned by listeners, who make their own interpretation of its theme.

How does she describe her brand of music? Meg, who outright considered the question difficult to answer, said, “It’s hard to classify. Sometimes when you’re being asked about it (and you give an answer), somehow you are giving boundaries of what you can do. Parang ang hirap kasi na nalilimitahan mo lang ang sarili mo (through) a genre. You have to be very open.”

Artists like Meg need not be limited and they should remain accepting of new possibilities. But she understands the value of having an identity, which is a function of a music genre. Given her generosity, Meg said her music is pop, but articles written about her categorize it as indie folk. The 23-year-old artist names The Beatles and Clara Benin as her music inspirations.

After walking everyone through her humble beginnings, Meg is off to create good music. What matters now to her is she has the platform and recording company that will nurture her artistry in the years to come.

(Panandalian is available in streaming platforms. Follow Ivory Music & Video on https://www.facebook.com/ivorymusicph, https://www.instagram.com/ivorymusicph, https://twitter.com/ivorymusicph and https://youtube.com/ivorymusicph.)

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