Why you should get excited about PhilPop 2020

Rick Olivares

Posted at Oct 05 2020 02:28 PM

Some of the finalists in the 2020 PhilipPop Songwriting Festival: (Column one top to bottom) TJ Paeldon and Aby Esteban, Chochay Magno, and Kulas Basilonia; (Column two top to bottom) Angelic Mateo and Kian Dionisio; and (Column three top to bottom) Princess Camacho, Aikee, and Lolito Go

MANILA -- “There’s no formula yet for Philippine music to go beyond our borders. But we are on our way to finding that opportunity for future global hitmakers.”

Warner Music Philippines managing director Ian Monsod’s excitement about the 2020 PhilPop Music Festival songwriting competition was palpable. And he wasn’t alone in waxing elation. 

Along with his fellow adjudicators Kelly Mangahas also of Warner, singer Trina Belamide, and songwriter and host Jungee Marcelo, PhilPop is poised to push original Pilipino music (OPM) outside the archipelago and beyond. 

It has been decades since Freddie Aguilar’s “Anak” became an international hit, while Lea Salona has become an international star albeit singing in foreign productions. 

More than a thousand entries by amateur and professional songwriters from all over the country that was grouped in five different clusters that included Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and the National Capital Region were submitted. Compositions are not restricted to any genre, and written in various languages — from English to Filipino, from Bicolano to Ilocano, from Cebuano to Wary, and more. 

“This is the first real competition where it was actively opened to all regions with songwriters encouraged to write in their own dialects,” clarified Belamide. “And I have some new favorite songs written in another dialect. I hope other people will feel the same way about them as well.”

Added Marcelo who himself is a multi-awarded songwriter: “This is the result of songwriting camps held all over the country. And we realized that there is a lot of songwriting talent all over the country.”

The competition was narrowed down to 15 finalists. 

During the curation process, regional music executives were included. 

“We should include people who know the tastes outside,” said Monsod. "The regional A&Rs (artist and repertoire managers) would know what works in their markets. We had A&R managers from Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore joining different clusters and what works for them might not be what we thought it was and that was interesting. That excited me because you learn a thing or two and you know there is potential for breaking out. The emphasis on regionalism was a deliberate approach. To go across borders. Go local then to go international. We have to find our unique sound that we can bring outside.”

For his part, Mangahas bared that Warner had been given the greenlight to invest in local artists. “It is important to our label to have that local content,” he said.

No doubt the adjudicators will have their hands full when the 15 finalists compete in the national finals inn December. 

Representing North Luzon are Abegail Esteban and TJ Paeldon, Lolito Go, and Angelic Mateo. 

The South Luzon cluster will be represented by Kulas Basilonia, Chochay Magno, and Princess Roselle Germina.

Kian Dionisio and Aikee will carry the torch for the National Capital Region.

From the Visayas and Mindanao clusters are composers Jerika Teodorico, Noah Alejandre and Reanne Borela, Michael Catarina, John Cadeliña, Christian Chiu, and Sherwin Fugoso.

“I think our countrymen should watch the culmination of PhilPop because we are hearing interesting new sounds and music from our countrymen,” added Marcelo. “It’s really exciting.”

Summed up Belamide: “We are hopeful that PhilPop’s new approach will give our music talents a chance to make their mark in the international music arena, and give them the necessary support to widen their reach and adapt to various challenges and trends in the industry.”