Who killed Filipino music?

Who killed Filipino music?

It’s Independence Day today, which means many reminders of just what supposedly makes us great as a country. Good music, for instance, as evidenced by the number of radio stations that go all-local today, which will lead to some people exclaiming “OPM is not dead!”

Well, that’s an exclamation that I’ve always seen occasionally. There will be a big gig featuring local artists, for example, and in the euphoria someone will say that OPM is not dead. “It’s alive and kicking!” he might also say, because that phrase comes inevitably, too.

But then, was it ever dead?

Sure, I fell off the wagon, so to speak. When I was still studying I was surrounded by local music, watching them when they perform in campus, as long as I’m free and it happens in the afternoon, because I live far away and can’t afford to go home late. I started working and then my listening habits changed. I never really went to gigs, despite several invitations, so that’s out of the question. It felt like local music was retreating back to its shell, although I’m sure a part of it is because I didn’t listen to places where they usually are.

But it never went away. There were always local acts, both the mainstream or alternative kind. I was just out of the loop. But they were there. So, when someone says “OPM is not dead!” I always think “but OPM was never dead!”

It was never dead, right?

What if it was dead? What if I was really that out of the loop that I missed that one point in time when OPM was truly dead? What if all the local music we’re seeing now is a resurrection of sorts, stemming from a point in time when local music was dead, flatline dead, no heartbeat dead?

If so, how did it die? Or, who killed Filipino music?

I’ve always had the idea that it was killed by people who did not like what they hear. When the kind of local artists they prefer fade out, and the kind of local artists they dislike come in – all this comes in phases, after all – then they throw their hands up in the air and declare death. “Anne Curtis is singing? No wonder OPM is dead.”

All right, perhaps that isn’t the best example – but then we tend to lump actresses who attempt to sing together with “pedestrian” acts singing gloopy love songs for the masses who, so we say, desperately need an education in good music. Anyone who listens mostly to the “jologs” or “masa” kind have terrible taste, we say, but that can be salvaged if they’re just exposed to good music. “If only Love Radio played music from the likes of Up Dharma Down,” I saw someone say – and that was followed by a litany of “credible” local acts. Like that would magically change anything.

So, the culprit behind OPM’s death are those people who can’t accept that Filipino music also includes the subjectively crappy stuff alongside the supposedly brilliant ones. Like, the instance you get airplay in a pop station, you’re a sell-out, you’re terrible. I’ll admit I thought that way, but then I was wrong. But at this point I can no longer devote the time to listen to the “terrible” acts – I don’t even have the time to listen to the “better” ones! And when I do, I don’t feel welcome – I feel people are side-eyeing me for being one of those losers trying so hard to be part of the cool crowd.

But that surely isn’t all there is to it, right?

I guess I should talk to myself.

Who killed Filipino music?

Record labels.


Those stupid covers. I mean, why can’t our artists be trusted with singing their own compositions? Why do they always have to cover somebody else’s song? Why do telenovelas always have to have a cover for a theme song? Gary V. did not originally sing that song!

You’ve got a point there. I’m frustrated, for instance, that half of Ebe Dancel’s new solo record are covers of his Sugarfree songs – like he can’t write new ones.

Correct. At least those indie artists get to write their own songs.

Even if the subjects can be a bit same-y, too?

But they write their own songs.

It doesn’t necessarily make them better artists, though. It just means they have the freedom to do what they want.

Still, artistic freedom. It’s not right that musicians be limited in what they can do. If the Eraserheads did mostly covers, they wouldn’t be popular today.

Fair point. All right. You. Who killed Filipino music?

Radio stations! They should stop playing that “Pusong Bato” bullshit.

Shut up. “Pusong Bato” is a pretty good song. Next. You. Who killed Filipino music?

The scene.

Oh no, I was trying to avoid making that explicit. Many have told me I should go soft of them because if they read this, they will get angry at me and this blog will become a pariah…

And that’s the problem! They think they’re so cool. They think the music they revolve around is the only music that matters. That, and whatever “baduy” song they decide to like. Noticed they all like the same thing?

Well, it does feel like high school, I’ll give you that. I never felt comfortable in gigs. They all know each other.

Have you also noticed that it’s their kind who keeps on saying that “OPM is not dead!” thing?

I haven’t.

Ugh, they think they’re so cool. They think they’re the only ones who are cool. Who are they to dictate who’s decent and who isn’t? They’re just a bunch of rich kids who have not seen the–

All right, all right. One, you need a chill pill. Two, that’s a pretty complicated issue right there, and I’m not sure I’m ready to dive into that yet. Next. You. Who killed Filipino music?

First off, I’d like to comment to that guy earlier. The scene did not kill Filipino music. We’re the ones keeping it alive! We’re independent and we do what we want, unlike those singers who do covers. But one thing: do we really have to call it OPM?

What’s wrong with “OPM”?

It’s so… limiting. When you say OPM you think of those ballads, those love songs, those cheesy songs. What we do is beyond that.

But it’s just a category, not a genre. It just says the music is made by Filipinos and in the Philippines. It is supposed to be vague.

Can’t we just call it, I don’t know, “Filipino music”? “Music”? Music transcends borders anyway! “OPM” is so limiting, not to mention tainted by all those crappy artists singing covers.

That’s another discussion, I think. All right. Last one. You. Who killed Filipino music?

People like you.

How come?

When did you last buy local music?

Apart from listens on Deezer and purchases on iTunes? Last year.

But the last album you bought is a K-pop one! You should put your money where your mouth is. Support local music! Go to gigs! Buy their albums! Go to more gigs!

But even if I wanted to – and I don’t, because I’m not a night person and I live relatively far away – I’m too busy to juggle all that. Doing this blog is already eating away at my time. I’m getting busier at work. I have issues and relationships. You get the idea.

But they do, too. And yet they are able to support local music. This one’s on you, man. Writing about it means nothing. Get out there! Or you’ll just continue to kill local music. Slowly. I mean, you write more about K-pop these days, you tasteless hypocrite.

All right, all right. [NB]


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