Searching for “sariling atin” on our airwaves

OPM albums

Ten years ago, Filipino music was everywhere, and a wide range of it, too. There was a resurgence of alternative acts, from veterans such as Rivermaya and Bamboo, to (then) up-and-comers such as Sponge Cola and Hale. Pop acts such as MYMP, riding the acoustic wave, and Jay-R, who represented the R&B front, dominated the charts. The indie scene had groups like Up Dharma Down waving the flag. And, of course, the usual pop acts were still there. The slow rise from the beginning of the noughties, to its peak sometime around 2006 – it was, indeed, a good time for local music.

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Foreign indie acts in Manila? They don’t make much sense. Yet.

The only way to buy a Feist album here is on vinyl, and frankly, that is not right.

In the past few years we’ve seen more relatively out-of-mainstream acts perform in Manila. Gone, it seems, are the times when the only foreign artists who would stop here are 60s and 70s bands targeting baby boomers, or the obviously big pop acts. Now we’ve had visits from Grimes, the xx and Tegan and Sara. We’ve had the Wanderland Festival last April, an attempt at bringing summer festival culture to the Philippines (albeit with half of the line-up being Aussie acts with, likely, a very small following). And, of course, there were the bigger acts, like Joss Stone at Malasimbo (which has been going on for a while and has been, so far, mostly under the radar) and, last month, the Killers.

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“It’s just the way I am today.”

“Lullaby of Wind and Tree” by Loquy | I first drank beer during my senior year in high school. A friend invited me to hang out at his home on his birthday; that same night a unexpectedly beat a friend in an NBA video game. I went home – my dad picked me up because I didn’t know how to get back, it was late and I didn’t know how to drive – switched the radio to NU 107 and heard this song. I heard this song a lot. It topped their Midnight Countdown in 2005. Pontri (where is he now?) always played this, methinks. Heard this a few times more during college, when I spent every break listening to the station. But I never quite figured out who they were – never mind that rock veterans Kevin Roy and Louie Talan were part of the line-up. And then the station folded up and I never heard this song again… until this Wednesday when, in the middle of a conversation with Jayvee about where some of the NU jocks have gone (Trish! Dylan! Andie! And especially you, radio crush Mallorie!) I mentioned this song and he pointed me to it. Throwback to 2005, to hearing this self-described “sensitive male rock” band for the first time, while figuring out what’s so special about beer. And Pontri drawling in this big voice of his. “Nuuuu, one, oh, seven, and that, was, Low-kee. With a song, called, Lullaby, of Wind, and, Tree.”