Emotional frailty as source of strength: Get to know PhilPop’s Metro Manila entries

PhilPop, the country’s premier songwriting competition, makes another huge comeback with an exemplary batch of music entries from the National Capital Region.

With a diverse showcase of sounds spanning R&B, contemporary pop and folk-influenced genres, the latest roster offers catchy, radio-friendly fodders that tackle romance, forgiveness, and regret with precision and sensitivity. 

Produced by PhilPop and distributed by Warner Music Philippines, this Friday’s commendable picks include two compositions by Aikee namely “Mapa,” interpreted by Chloe Redondo and Aikee himself, and “Bestiny,” interpreted by Kevin Yadao and Jr. Crown. Composer Kian Dionisio rounds up the Metro Manila cluster with his compelling original “Huling Sayaw,” interpreted by Nyoy Volante.

Two Entries

Prolific rapper and singer-songwriter Aikee Aplacador snags two entries at this year’s PhilPop 2020 finals round.

On “Bestiny,” Aikee expresses his frustration on navigating the harsh realities of dealing with unrequited love and friendship. Kevin Yadao and Jr. Crown trades verses with smooth effortlessness, singing atop upbeat melodies, warm R&B beats and indelible harmonies.

“Mapa” is Aikee’s tribute to the parents that served as guiding light in times of utmost difficulty and trouble. This time, the acclaimed composer recruits newcomer Chloe Redondo on the inspiring pop/R&B ballad.

Both songs channel Aikee’s pop and urban sensibilities, while harnessing his skill as a versatile songwriter with a knack for inescapable chorus and earwormy hooks. 

Life regrets as song inspiration

Kian Dionisio pens a heartfelt anthem of regrets and what ifs in life on “Huling Sayaw.” Delicately woven with lush keyboards and stripped-down arrangements, his song “Huling Sayaw” was inspired by Dionisio’s music career and the frustrations that come with nurturing the process. “I’ve been told that I was a late bloomer, not brave enough, and not driven enough,” Dioniso shares. “knew from the very beginning that I am a dreamer. But as I age, I started regretting all the opportunities and time that could’ve been so productive. If only I had started so much earlier, maybe I’m already living THE DREAM right now. This is one of my biggest regrets in life and I tried to incorporate the idea to the song.”

Acoustic pop balladeer Nyoy Volante interprets Dionisio’s melancholic piece with just the right amount of skill and restraint. Volante worked hand in hand with Dionisio in capturing the emotional frailty of the track, delivering it with his own touch while staying true to the original’s message.

“Bestiny,” “Mapa,” and “Huling Sayaw” are now available on streaming and digital platforms worldwide via PhilPop and Warner Music Philippines.

Image and details provided in a recent press release.

Melancholia as Universal Theme: PhilPop releases third batch of songs

PhilPop takes the competition to an entirely impressive scale with the official release of songs from the North Luzon clusters.

The latest batch balances compelling drama and introspection as it gravitates toward themes of unrequited love, romantic dissolution, and abusive relationships. Produced with professional polish and help from PhilPop, the newest selection includes “Paos,” composed by Angelic Mateo and interpreted by Keiko Necessario; “Balikan,” composed by Lolito Go and interpreted by Benj Manalo and the Collective; and “Agsardeng,” composed by TJ Paeldon and Abby Esteban, and interpreted by Miss Ramone.

Distributed by Warner Music Philippines, the homegrown songs are now available today, November 6, 2020 (Friday) on all digital and streaming platforms worldwide via PhilPop.

Paos: The beauty of unspoken emotions

Beautifully written with tenderness and warmth, “Paos” documents the repressed feelings of being tried and lost, but still wanting to be found. According to its composer Angelic Mateo, the song speaks about the aching truth in our everyday lives and the reality behind the unspoken emotions that reflect one’s bottom points. 

“This song is a way to remind people that everyone fights a unique battle.” Mateo explains  in a statement. “Moreover, it hopes to emphasize how people must not forget to genuinely understand what the other one is going through because reaching the bottom thorns and wanting to pause does not make a precious soul weak.”

The subtly produced track is interpreted by acclaimed singer-songwriter Keiko Necessario, who gave her own incredible spin on the serene pop ballad. Despite her own vocal inflection and stylistic take, Necessario remains faithful to the underlying message of the song, careful not enough to blur its intentions while owning the material with genuine understanding on what it’s all about. 

Balikan: a dissolution of romance

 “Balikan” is a post-breakup anthem that laments on the irreversibility of the past and mocks the prospects of reunion. According to composer Lolito Go, the song was inspired by his friend Jake Vargas’ split with actress Bea Binene. 

“I was challenged to write a song about it and that’s the time I wrote the first draft of Balikan,” the singer-songwriter shares. “The song revolved around a couple of lines I originally wrote 7 years ago for a popular ‘Hugot’ page on Facebook back when I was one of its content writers.”

The early iteration of “Balikan” leans on the acoustic ballad side, and was set to be performed by Jake Vargas. But after being selected as one of the fellows for PhilPop bootcamp, Go had a change of heart, and the song underwent changes in terms of how it was arranged and produced. The final version is reimagined by Benj Manalo and the Collective, whose Motown-inspired, funky feel deserves props.

Agsardeng: breaking the cycle of abuse

“Agsardeng” is an empowering song that tackles the breakage from the cycle of abusive relationships. According to Abby Esteban, one of the composers of the emotionally penned track, it follows the story of a person who is stuck in recurring domestic abuse, and finally decides to emancipate from its trappings to start anew. ”We wanted to write a socially relevant yet easily digestible pop song that could hopefully serve as a voice and inspiration to those who have survived and are still experiencing gender-based and domestic violence,” tells Esteban. “This is their story we are amplifying.”

Esteban and her co-composer TJ Paeldon used Ilocano and Filipino lyrics in its attempt to convey both the regional and global appeal of their entry, while catering to contemporary listening standards. Paeldon adds, “We are also aiming on promoting the Ilocano dialect mixed with our National language which is Filipino, for us it’s all about bridging the gap between Filipino and our Ilocano dialect so everyone can appreciate this song and also appreciate the beauty of the Ilocano language which makes a very large portion of the North Luzon cluster.”

As for the overall sound, Esteban and Paeldon are very particular with melding Ilocano native instruments with vintage-sounding synthesizers to recreate their version of a modern lullaby. Interpreter Miss Ramone adds her sultry and soulful take on the intricately nuanced jam, while making sure to keep up with the ambition of its sound design.

“Paos,” “Balikan,” and “Agsardeng” are are now available on streaming and digital platforms worldwide via PhilPop and Warner Music Philippines.

Image and details provided by Warner Music Philippines in a recent press release.

Embracing the Global Potential of Visayan Pop: PhilPop 2020 Introduces Second Batch of Songs

PhilPop, the country’s premier songwriting competition, returns with an eclectic set of new releases from the finalists of the Visayas cluster.

The sophomore batch takes regional pride to unprecedented heights with its sterling showcase of contemporary pop songs representing authentic Visayan expressions through language, culture, and experience. 

Distributed by Warner Music Philippines, the homegrown tracks are available today, October 30 (Friday) on all digital and streaming platforms worldwide. The entries include “Suyo,” composed and interpreted by Noah Alejandre and Reanne Borela also know as the duo reon; “Hinungdan,” composed by Michael Catarina and interpreted by James Gulles; and “Ayaw Na Lang,” composed by Jerika Teodorico and interpreted by Lourdes Maglinte.

Suyo: Love beyond cultural differences

Breaking cultural barriers, “Suyo” tells the story of quarreling lovers from the opposite sides of the country. Over the course of the intricately produced jam, composers Noah Alejandre and Reanne Borela exchange sweet banters to win each other back in Bisaya and Tagalog, respectively.

“This song breaks the norms of OPM songs having only one language and giving emphasis on couples who are from different parts of the country,” Alejandre explains the inspiration behinf the new tune. “Both of us never really experienced being in a relationship, yet we made the song as if we were in one and took inspiration from our imaginations. Reanne took inspiration from her friends who were in relationships and have witnessed how they would fight about the simplest things and get back together right after. They took this as an opportunity to create a playful song that resulted into the song.”

With its understated charm and infectious pop songwriting, “Suyo” stands out for putting a new spin on the classic love song template. It seamlessly blends the charm and tension points of two different languages, showcasing a pure kind of love that goes beyond cultural and geographical differences.

Hinungdan: Subtlety done right

Weaving folk-pop instrumentation with striking vulnerability, “Hinungdan” brings back earnestness and subtlety at the forefront of the songwriting process, allowing words and melodies to wander into the open space and take off. 

Cebu-based composer Michael Catarina cites British singer-songwriters Ed Sheeran, Passenger, and James Bay as major influences in writing “Hinungdan”—a song about “a person who is having a hard time telling his feelings for someone.” 

Catarino relates to the universal appeal of the self-penned composition, sharing how he felt the same at some point in his life: “I can’t deny but I have personally experienced this as well. Way back then, when I wrote this song, I was just embracing the moment of being frustrated by writing the things that I couldn’t say.”

Ayaw Na Lang: Sultry jam for the lovelorn

According to PhilPop finalist Jerika Teodorico, “Ayaw Na Lang” is a Bisaya phrase that translates to “never mind” in English. “The lyrics are from the perspective of a lovelorn person slowly acknowledging and accepting the fact that although her love interest seems to return even a fourth of the feeling, a romance between them just won’t do,” the Cebuana composer and songwriter reflects. “It’s a very confusing feeling to deal with, and as a songwriter and a person who has a hard time processing my thoughts and emotions, I felt compelled to make a monument out of that half-joyous, half-torturous moment. It was also me trying to assure my love interest that it was fine, and there were no hard feelings after that night.”

From a musical standpoint, there’s nothing over-the-top about “Ayaw Na Lang” in terms of production and arrangement, but its charm lies on the gritty, throwback vibe that arranger and co-producer Anjelo Calinawanbrought to the mix, making it sound like an ‘old-meets-new’ kind of jam. The overall product is something that Amy Winehouse or Duffy wouldn’t mind singing their hearts out, but in the entry’s case, it’s songstress Lourdes Maglintefilling in the shoes to interpret this smoky, jazz-pop originalwith both sass and soul.

“Suyo,” “Hinungdan,” and “Ayaw Na Lang” are now available on streaming and digital platforms worldwide via PhilPop and Warner Music Philippines.

Image and details provided in a recent press release.

Regional heritage meets global appeal: PhilPop 2020 charms with first batch of songs

Distributed by Warner Music Philippines, the maiden batch reflects the diversity and appeal of the region’s music heritage, and champions authentic representation of the contemporary ‘Mindanaoan’ experience.

PhilPop, the country’s premier songwriting competition, has officially released the songs from the finalists of the Mindanao cluster on Spotify and other digital platforms worldwide this October 23, Friday.

Distributed by Warner Music Philippines, the maiden batch reflects the diversity and appeal of the region’s music heritage, and champions authentic representation of the contemporary ‘Mindanaoan’ experience.

The tracks available for streaming and download include “Akong Bilihon,” composed by John Cadeliña and interpreted by The Marshland; “Kasadya,” composed by Christian Chiu and interpreted by Jay-ar Vaño and XT on Sax; and “Pahuway,” composed by Sherwin Fugoso and interpreted by Ferdinand Aragon.

Akong Bilhon: An anthem of resilience

According to singer-songwriter John Cadeliña, “Akong Bilhon” is a song about contentment. “No matter how big or small the blessings you have or received, if you really appreciate it’s true value, then it’s more than enough for you to be happy,” the Pilipinas Got Talent season 2 finalist says. “I wrote it last June, inspired by the current situation we have—that despite the negativities, the weights on our shoulders, we should still look up for the silver lining.”

With its soaring arrangements and infectious melodies, the inspirational piece stresses the importance of optimism and resilience in dealing with the uncertainty of the times. 

John Cadeliña’s music project, The Marshland is the sole interpreter of the guitar-pop ballad. He counts the likes of Five For Fighting and City and Colours as major influences.

Kasadya: An eclectic sonic brew

Christian Tiu marks the passing of time on “Kasadya,” an irresistible number inspired by childhood nostalgia, Ilonggo culture, and the pandemic. Tiu’s official entry to the PhilPop 2020 Songwriting Festival looks back at the glorious memories spent with his family and grandparents.

Tiu shares, “During the pandemic, that feeling of isolation was even more accentuated.

The thought of spending time with our grandparents would be at the bottom of the list due to their vulnerabilities with the virus. In the song Kasadya, I was looking back to those times; reliving those memories and just embracing those nostalgic moments. I felt genuinely happy for those times.” 

Musically, “Kasadya” is an upbeat number that blends ‘80s pop with jazz, Manila Sound, ‘70s soul, and contemporary R&B sounds. It features interesting arrangements that mirror the artist’s intentional leaning towards retro-sounding appeal, while also incorporating modern touches to cater to the younger generation of listeners. The song is interpreted by Jay-ar Vaño, a singer based in Koronadal City and an active contributor to the Ilonggo pop scene, and XT on Sax, a renowned saxophonist.

Pahuway: An emotionally gripping ballad

Sherwin’s Fugoso’s stripped-down ballad “Pahuway” speaks about knowing what your heart truly desires and patiently waiting for its fulfillment. According to the folk artist, it’s a song about “longing, love, commitment, and dedication that stands against the test of time.”

Pahuway was inspired by a famous passage from Saint Augustine’s  Confession in which he states: You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you,” Fugoso explains. “His words hit me big-time, and for me, it is a must to write songs out of these very powerful words.  Pahuway portrays my longing for a cure for my daily dose of restlessness.”

The spiritual song digs deeper into the songwriter’s emotional psyche, but mines a less-is-more approach to showcase the vulnerability in Fugoso’s words. Award-winning Cebu-based artist Ferdinand Aragon interprets the song with the right mix of subtlety and warmth, and even going to as far as captivating listeners with his nuanced delivery and wounded vocal styling.

“Akong Bilhon,” “Kasadya,” and “Pahuway” are now available on streaming and digital platforms worldwide via PhilPop and Warner Music Philippines.

Image and details provided by PhilPop in a recent press release.

PhilPop partners with Warner Music PH to discover future global hitmakers

PhilPop, the country’s premier songwriting competition, sets its sights in penetrating the music landscape of the Asia Pacific Region and beyond with its new tagline, #MusicBreakingBorders.

This year, PhilPop Songwriting Festival 2020 partners with Warner Music Philippines in its mission to promote quality Filipino music on a bigger, global scale.

Global Partnership

During the virtual presser held on July 2, 2020 via Zoom, Managing Director of Warner Music Philippines Ian Monsod took the opportunity to talk about the record label’s role in providing sustainable recording, production, marketing and promotional support needed to ensure breakthrough of world-class homegrown talents in the international market.

“The value that we bring to this equation, especially connected to the fact that it’s about #MusicBreakingBorders, is that we are international major record label. We do have a network of A&R and marketing people all around the world. In terms of judging and production process, we’ll bring that unique value of this presence to the project. We share this ambition to elevate the Filipino artist to a global stage. It’s a difficult path, but I think with our partnership, we can improve the odds.”

National Artist and PhilPop Music Fest Foundation Board Member and Bootcamp Master Ryan Cayabyab opened the online press conference with a message highlighting PhilPop’s duty to harness the talents of Filipino singer-songwriters and composers to create music that can inspire and motivate a nation. “From mounting songwriting festivals every two years, PhilPop Foundation has expanded its influence and range of activities by including boot camps across the country and now publisher of original content for use in albums, commercials and movies. Through PhilPop, the MVP Group has positioned itself as the primary champion of Filipino songwriters.”

Decentralizing the monopoly and supporting regional talents

PhilPop Music Fest Foundation Executive Director Dinah Remolacio also stressed the importance of decentralizing the monopoly of support to Metro Manila fellows by giving equal opportunity to the next generation of singer-songwriters based in other cities and provinces, regardless of their identity, language and cultural affiliation. Remolacio told the audience in the online press conference that the move will help create a positive impact in the music industry and dispel the notion of bias in the selection process.

Remolacio added, “When we had major pivot in 2018, the first thing that we did is to make the festival biennial. In between those years, we mounted all these songwriting workshops in different parts of the country to empower other songwriters in the region, so that they could submit entries to PhilPop. We want to diversify the winning entries in every festival.”

PhilPop Boot Camp coach and folk icon Noel Cabangon, on the other hand, assured the press people in attendance about the prestigious songwriting festival’s commitment in highlighting the diverse and distinct music from the different regions in the country, and upholding its vision to produce the next wave of global hitmakers and superstars. “Despite the pandemic, and the challenges brought about by uncertainty of time, we are proud to announce that we, in PhilPop, continue to push our music forward, now more than ever— we are ready to break borders.”

Background of the PhilPop 2020 Songwriting Festival

PhilPop is looking for the next generation of songwriting champs through its 2020 Songwriting Festival.

This year, songwriters are encouraged to submit their entries based on their origin or residence namely—Metro Manila, South Luzon, North Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
From thousands of songs submitted, only three (3) songwriters will eventually represent each cluster through rigorous adjudication process spearheaded by Warner Music Philippines and PhilPop.

The top 15 songs will have the chance to work with Warner Music Philippines and compete in the final rounds.

Standout entries (Top 3) will be getting cash prizes from the MVP Group of Companies:

P1,000,000 for the Grand Champion
P500,000 for the 1st runner up
P250,000 for the 2nd runner up
Finals night will happen on November 14, 2020.

Submission of entries is still ongoing until July 4, 2020. For more details on how to join, feel free to register online via their official website.

PhilPop Songwriting Festival 2020 is an initiative of the PhilPop Music Foundation, chaired by Mr. Manny V. Pangilinan. This year’s PhilPop is co-presented by SMART, MERALCO, MAYNILAD and Warner Music Philippines.

Program details and image provided by PhilPop in a recent press release.

PhilPop partners with NQC on Quincentennial Celebration

As part of the multiple celebrations commemorating an important milestone in Philippine and global history, the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) partners with PhilPop to mount music events and activities that mark the 500th anniversary of Victory of Mactan in 2021.

Under the partnership agreement, the country’s premier songwriting competition will be the screening committee responsible for curating a 9-track compilation album that pays tribute to the triumph of Lapulapu in the famous Battle of Mactan.

Underrated gems

Instead of relying on star power and mega-hits, Dinah Remolacio, the Executive Director of PhilPop highlights the importance of empowering underrated musical talents from all over the country whose artistic blueprint and songwriting talent stand out from the ordinary. “With guidance from our distinguished crop of industry professionals and award-winning mentors, this year’s selection strikes a balance between theme and form. I’m proud to say that the compilation record serves its function in discovering the future of homegrown music.”

National Artist and PhilPop Music Fest Foundation Board Member and Bootcamp Master Ryan Cayabyab feels the same way about the songwriters and interpreters behind the compilation record. “It’s an honor to discover promising new acts who are capable of writing compositions that could impact people’s lives. Not only are they defying and challenging trends; these songwriters are also finding ways to develop their own artistic stamp while making sure that the material adheres to specific requirements of NQC in terms of content and vision.”

As an esteemed institution that provides a world-class and sustainable songwriting curriculum, PhilPop has handpicked eight songs from the PhilPop Bootcamp 2019 that it hosted on various venues such as Batangas, Tagum and Lingayen. The final song, which will be a collaboration among PhilPop coaches, will be launched soon.

“PhilPop was one of the institutions that came to mind when asked who we want to work with in producing the Quincentennial songs,” says NQC Head of Secretariat Ian Alfonso. “This time, we want to come up with a streaming playlist that best represents the collective musical taste of this generation, while also taking into consideration the Filipino-ness of pop music and the celebration of the quincentennial.”

Future plans

Aside from the National Quincentennial Commemorations Playlist which will be out on streaming and digital platforms soon, NQC and PhilPop is currently looking into producing music shows and concerts as part of its efforts to promote the 500 years of achievement in circumnavigating the planet for the first time. “One of the objectives of the National Quincentennial Committee is to have multi-disciplinary activities, and to have PhilPop among our partners is also a way of support to OPM industry,” Alfonso points out.

Alfonso recently shared the partnership’s plans to join the international community in celebrating a 500-day countdown to the Victory of Mactan in Lapulapu City, Davao City and Manila. “As we approach 2021, expect activities that will elevate public’s interest to the World our ancestors had, debunking misconceptions and myths that they were savages and uncivilized. Our very own Lapulapu will be the heart of the celebration, for he was among the rallying Symbol which Rizal and the heroes of the Philippine Revolution evoked as our nation was being founded in 1898.”

PhilPop Bootcamp 2019 is an initiative of the PhilPop Music Foundation, chaired by Mr. Manny V. Pangilinan. This year’s PhilPop boot camp is co-presented by Maynilad and Meralco with Smart as a major sponsor.

Event details provided in a recent press release.