A record-breaking 3,000 song entries, not just from the Philippines but Filipinos based in other parts of the world including the United Kingdom, France, Canada and neighboring Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, beat the deadline to submit their entries for the first ever Philippine Popular Music Festival’s (PhilPOP) search for the next, big Filipino songwriter.
The overwhelming local and global response to send entries for the competition is a clear indication that Original Pilipino Music (OPM) is indeed still very much alive – all that is really needed is the right vehicle to showcase their talents.
PhilPOP is composed of respected local artists and prominent personalities from various industries brought together by a shared vision—to spark renewed pride and enthusiasm in OPM and bring about another golden age in Philippine music.
With the entries screened, reviewed and segregated, the million peso question now is who will make it to the coveted top 14?
At the press conference held recently, the 14 finalists were finally announced to the general public. Come July 14, 2012, these top 14 will showcase their compositions through the final performance and competition to be held at the Plenary Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
Timothy Anjello Alfaro
Song: Himig ng Panahon
This 20 year old RnB-Rap artist and songwriter goes by the name Thyro. He is part of a duo and has had some exposure in the local hip-hop scene. This so far is his biggest break. His song “Himig ng Panahon” discourages conformity and encourages people to think outside the box. He hopes to share the values he carries through his music and influence this generation of artists to be bold and unique.
Song: Dulo ng Dila
This is his first real contest. For Noah Zuniga, “Dulo ng Dila” is a song he wrote especially for PhilPOP. It took only hours to write the song which talks of unconfessed love. This guitarist is part of an alternative pop-rock band called Klay. He’s made some strides in the songwriting scene, having written songs for notable artists like Nina and Kris Lawrence, but he’s hoping that he’ll make his real mark in the industry through this competition.
John Kennard Eleazar Faraon
Kenny Faraon is a student from San Pablo Laguna taking up a 2-year Diploma and Information Technology course. This amateur songwriter started composing in 2004 when he fantasized about forming a band. They disbanded before they got anywhere, but he never stopped honing his skills in the electronic genre—he finds himself doodling with his recording device all the time. The original piece is something he came up with at home.
Song: Minsa'y Isang Bansa
James B. Leyte
James works the night shift as cellular service support for an engineering company. He is an absolute amateur songwriter and has never joined any contests in the past. His sister Genevieve was the one who encouraged him to join the contest with only 5 days before deadline. He wasn’t sure of himself but fortunately, he was a lot more confident about his entry “Brown”. He had planned to buy shoes, but instead, he used the money to pay for the recording studio.
Edwin B. Marollano
He wrote the song “Babae Po Ako” and a very popular jingle for a pharmaceutical brand. He’s written “I Feel For You” for Kyla and has been commissioned to compose numerous songs for movies. But Edwin is left wanting. When he was 13, he joined the Likha Awit ng Bata competition but didn’t win. He never stopped though, not even when he turned pro in 1995. He’s pinning his hopes on becoming a known songwriter through PhilPOP.
Kristofferson B. Melecio
This is the first time he’s ever joined a contest such as this. Kris found out about PhilPop through Filscap. His song "Piso" is his take on what’s happening in society. Since it’s election time, he hopes this song will reach out to people, particularly those who are looking for power. Kris has made a living through music—he sings, writes songs, works with advertisers, organizes events, and he will soon put up a music production house. He considers "Piso" his masterpiece, and he knew that it would be a perfect song for Joey Ayala to interpret. He has made songs for Maegan Aguilar, Glaiza de Castro, and has even brought out the crooner in Bayani Fernando.
This is great achievement for a young singer-songwriter who just turned 21. Keiko was once a Conservatory of Music student, but she shifted to another course which she'll soon graduate from. She’s written dozens of songs but this is an absolute first for her. “3:00am” is a song she penned about a guy she had a crush on. Coming from a wake of a common friend’s father, this crush of hers drove her home at 3am. She relished the moment and was inspired to write a song.
He’s the vocalist of an alternative band called Squeezers, which has two self-produced albums, and he also works as a spot producer and DJ for a popular radio station. Byron has written songs before but only one got air play. He’s hoping Takusa (takot sa asawa) will top the charts. He vehemently denies that this song is about him.
Ronaldo M. Sorioso
Song: Tayo Tayo Lang
“Toto” started writing songs in high school. Since turning pro 12 years ago, he has further honed his skills working as a sound engineer and an artist, singing songs similar to his rock ballad entry “Tayo Tayo Lang”, which talks about the loneliness of playing music on a stage, in an empty bar, with no one really watching. He’s experienced having a cat cross the stage during a gig.
Michael Angelo Santos Villegas
Mike Villegas admits to not letting an opportunity to compete in a songwriting contest pass him by. He’s a veteran and many of his works have been recognized. He placed in the 2001 Metro Pop, and also won 2nd place in 2003, behind his wife Bayang Barrios. He feels this year’s PhilPOP will be even sweeter because it’s been 9 years since the last. But he never stopped writing songs for whenever the next opportunity to join a contest would be. Mike and his twin brother are very well-known in the music industry.
Karl Vincent H. Villuga
Song: Bawat Hakbang
Karl will soon be the former member of the group called the Akafellas. He’s been there since 2001 but the group is transitioning to have new members. He has plans of moving to Singapore to take his MBA later this year. Karl is a brilliant finance consultant. He labels his work on corporate finance “geeky”. He’s pretty new to songwriting contests; this is only his 2nd attempt. He’s written a couple of songs, including some originals for the Akafellas. He says his song “Bawat Hakbang” carries deep personal meaning, which saw him through when he went through some personal crisis.
Music maestro and PhilPOP executive director Ryan Cayabyab said, “We want to thank all our kababayans who shared their compositions with us. The mere fact that we received this overwhelming response for the very first Philippine Popular Music Festival is a victory not only for OPM (Original Pilipino Music) but more so, for the Filipino people.”
Cayabyab, whose music career, starting out as an amateur songwriter, was propelled by a song writing competition, added, “This is an exciting time for the local music industry. With PhilPOP, we are helping shape the future landscape of OPM. The talent and the potential of the Filipino songwriter have always been there. We have proven it many times over. Now, the next step is to shine the spotlight on the best of the best.”
The country has indeed profited from other renowned songwriters whose significant compositions were borne out of song writing competitions including Jose Mari Chan ("Can we Just Stop and Talk Awhile", which incidentally was also entered in the World Popular Music Festival in Tokyo, “Hahanapin Ko”, “Minsan Pa”) Nonong Pedero (“Narito Ako”, “Isang Mundo, Isang Awit”), George Canseco (“Ako ang Nasawi, Ako ang Nagwagi”), Louie Ocampo (“Ewan”), Snaffu Rigor (Bulag, Pipi at Bingi”) and Freddie Aguilar whose seminal hit “Anak” went on to become one of the country’s most popular and well-loved songs.
The top winning entry will receive P1 million in cash and two runners-up will each receive P500,000 and P250,000 respectively. A People’s Choice award will also be given to the most popular entry as decided by text votes.
The Philippine Popular Music Festival is jointly presented by Maynilad, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), and Smart. Major sponsors are Meralco, Resorts World Manila and TV5. Other sponsors are Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), Sun Cellular, First Pacific Leadership Academy (FPLA), Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), and Philex Mining Corporation. Media partners are KBP, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star and Radio High.
For updates on the results, visit PhilPOP.com.ph