MANILA -- The entries to the 2020 PhilPop songwriting contest from the Visayas and Mindanao region are either ballads, jazz, rhythm and blues, or even alternative. However, that doesn’t begin to speak of its diversity.
The songwriters hail from places like Leyte, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur, Cebu, and Koronodal, and the songs are written in Bisaya, Illongo, and Tagalog.
Even the words have nuances.
In the case of Christian Chiu, who goes by the name “XT on the Sax” professionally, his song entry “Kasadya” has multiple meanings.
“The word ‘kasadya’ in Ilonggo has different usage,” explained Chiu. “It can be used as a pun, or a point of humor or even provocation. But its real meaning is in a joyful context. In my song, I used it differently. I was developing it until the bridge where it takes on a nostalgic feeling, like reminiscing of what happened in the past. Mga nakakanis or ‘ugtas’ na 'yung almusal ng lola mo,' for example. But in the end, the character (in the song) missed all those moments.”
Agusan del Sur native Sherwin Fugoso’s spiritual ballad, “Pahuway” was written intermittently in the past few years but was only finished in January of this year.
“’Pahuway’ was inspired by a passage from Saint Augustine’s Confession where he writes, ‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you,’” Fugoso explained. “It isn’t easy to write songs. Sometimes, you go for days, weeks with nothing. And as a result, I am restless. ‘Pahuway’ is about my longing for a cure for my daily dose of restlessness.”
If Fugoso is searching for meaning and a cure to his restlessness, for Cebuana songwriter/singer Jerika Teodorico, her song entry, “Ayaw Na Lang” is balm that heals a wound of rejection.
“I had my eyes on somebody for a long time and we share the same feelings,” expounded the curly-haired Cebuana. “But for some reason ayaw niya. My song is about that frustration and dealing with it.”
Not every courtship though bears negative results. Sometimes, it’s a “yes” but it needs a lot of fine-tuning, polishing patience, and working to make it better.
That is the song written by the duo of Noah Alejandre and Reanne Borela who both are from Leyte.
“'Suyo' is a song about two people in the midst of an argument and speaking in two dialects (Bisaya and Tagalog),” related Borela. “But even if they are arguing, you can still see the sweetness and love in the middle of the fight.”
From internal turmoil comes peace. Or contentment.
Agusan del Sur native John Cadeliña’s entry “Akong Bilhon” is a song about contentment. Said the one-time "Pilipinas Got Talent" Season 2 finalist, “No matter how big or small the blessings you have or received, if you really appreciate its true value, then it’s more than enough for you to be happy.
“This was something I reflected on during this pandemic. Simply, it is saying that despite the negativity and pessimism around that can be a little too much to take, we should still count our blessings.”
The song has an alternative feel as Cadeliña makes no bones of his 1990s rock influences. The song soars and has an infectious melody.
For his part, Alejandre said his song with Borela was inspired by American indie pop artist Jeremy Zucker whose lush-soundtrack style soundscapes have garnered over 300 million streams on Spotify.
“'Suyo,'” pointed out Alejandre, “has this pop beat then shifts to reggae for the chorus then goes back to a pop sound.”
“Zucker,” gushed Teodorico who also admitted to being a fan as well as the Beatles, the Carpenters, ABBA, and Jim Croce to name a few. “But for my song, it has a more R&B sound.”
Fugoso admits to a wider and disparate range of influences from The Beatles and Elton John to One Republic and Rico Blanco.
Chiu’s song though is more 1980s Manila pop and soul. “While I love jazz and modern artists like Norah Jones and Raechel Yamagata, I felt that going back to roots music in terms of OPM was the way to go for me.”
All these songwriter’s entries are now available on streaming and digital platforms worldwide via PhilPop and Warner Music Philippines.