If you’ve been following me for quite a while, you would know that I’ve been waiting for a songwriting competition as grand as the MetroPop Song Festival, which only lasted from 1977 to 1985 and was revived in 1996 only to see its demise in 2003. The lack of a songwriting competition as grand as the MetroPop has been felt by a lot of Filipino music fans. I have noted in the past that we have been seeing a lot of singing competitions for over a decade now, with singing talents coming to us left and right every year if not every quarter. But I have always asked to no one in particular, who will write the songs for these new singers? Or will they be indefinitely relegated to singing covers and revivals? How will the OPM industry compete better with songs from the international music scene?
On February 16, organizers, OPM supporters and the media came together in the PICC Complex to celebrate the official launch of PhilPOP, the short name for the Philippine Popular Music Festival. PhilPOP is a songwriting competition open to all amateur and professional Filipino composers.
“Filipinos, in general, are musically gifted,” music maestro and PhilPOP executive director Ryan Cayabyab said. “We are well-known the world over simply because of our immense talent. But we are not just a country of talented singers, dancers and actors. With PhilPOP, I also want to shine the spotlight on our world-class composers and songwriters,” he added. The renowned musician also noted that this songwriting event is not a “revival” of another popular songwriting competition in the past decade.
“The competition is open to something new, maybe something old, something new put together, new fusions, new genres, perhaps something that the Filipino can say that ‘ah this is the stamp of Filipino music!’ I am very, very optimistic that something like that is gonna happen,” the Maestro beamed.
Meanwhile, business icon and PhilPOP chairman, Manny Pangilinan, also shared his motivation for lending support to the competition. “There are two reasons why I’m back in the Philippines after living in Hong Kong for so many years. I miss our religion and our music. You hear God’s voice in music,” he said.
Ogie Alcasid, president of OPM (Organisasyon Ng Pilipinong Mang-Aawit), also noted, “Hindi po tumitigil yung paglikha ng kanta… Marami pong independent musicians ang lumilikha ng kanta, kinakanta nila… at binebenta nila yung kanilang mga awitin.” The musician also added, “Kultura natin ito. Bigyan natin ng pagpapahalaga. (This is our culture. Let us give it importance.)”
Maynilad president and chief executive Ricky Vargas, who is also the event’s organizing committee chairman, further noted the significance of PhilPOP. “It’s high time we celebrate the artistry of the Filipino songwriter. What better way to do that than by giving them an avenue to showcase home grown talent and shine on a stage of their own.”
Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (FILSCAP) president Noel Cabangon, who was also present at the PhilPOP press conference, urged us that the local music scene can learn from K-pop, or Korean pop, which has gained a huge following in the Philippines, saying that the Korean music industry did not compromise Korean culture. “We should be able to create something that’s really Filipino. The challenge is that we have to be able to be conscious with our identity,” he further adds.
Also spotted supporting PhilPOP in the press conference were former Eraserheads front man Ely Buendia and big names in the songwriting scene Trina Belamide and Jungee Marcelo.
The Philippine Popular Music Festival is jointly presented by Maynilad, Meralco, PLDT, Smart Communications, Sun Cellular, PICC, TV5, DDB Philippines and official press launch food provider, Via Mare.
Interested composers can start submitting their entries online at PhilPop.com.ph starting March 1, 2012 until May 10, 2012. Song entries must be in MP3 format and can be in any popular music genre or a fusion of known genres, in any form or structure. Each entry must not exceed four minutes. Contestants can submit a maximum of two songs, either as a sole composer or as a collaborator. Song lyrics may be in Filipino, English, any Filipino dialect or a combination thereof.
There will be three levels of screenings and during the semi-finals, the judges will choose the top 14 finalists. The final performance and competition night will be held on July 14, 2012 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). The grand prize winner will receive P1 million in cash and a trophy. The second and third placers will each receive a trophy and P500,000 and P250,000 in cash respectively. All non-winning finalists will receive P50,000. A People’s Choice award will also be given to the entry with the most number of online and SMS votes. The People’s Choice award winner will receive P200,000 and a trophy.