MANILA - Filipinos often find it amusing when they chance upon foreigners who are able to say words in Filipino. Even more impressive, however, are foreigners who sing their own versions of original Pilipino music (OPM).
Here are 3 foreigners who have made the rounds on social media with their covers of OPM songs:
Polish vlogger Agon Hare recently wowed social media users with his cover of Juan Karlos Labajo's “Buwan,” a song that became a big hit here that it even spawned an online challenge.
As of this writing, the video, which Hare posted on Aug. 4 on his Facebook channel Project Nightfall has garnered 3.6 million views and over 82,000 shares.
Hare gave twists to his rendition by adding an English verse and performing a verse in the rock genre.
In an e-mail interview, Hare said he chose to do covers of songs in different languages after being unable to find “any meaningful music on the mainstream [American] market.”
The 30-year old vlogger, who is currently based in Singapore, recounted that he discovered “Buwan” while buying food.
“I was buying a salad here in Singapore and I heard a song on a radio. So I gave it a closer listen and absolutely fell in love with the song,” Hare told ABS-CBN News.
Hare first learned the meaning of “Buwan” before singing and noted how Tagalog was easier to learn compared to an Indian Hindi song that he studied for a previous cover.
“I sang a song from India and it was much harder to learn. I feel like Tagalog language is really close to English and Polish with some of the pronunciation so I managed to learn it much easier,” he said.
Hare said he plans to do a cover of “Anak” by Freddie Aguilar and collaborate with Filipino singer Bugoy Drilon, who reached out to him after he posted his “Buwan” cover.
Russian Anna Rabtsun was a contestant in the 2016 music competition “I Love OPM,” where foreigners faced off against each other performing Filipino songs.
One of Rabtsun’s most memorable covers was “Sirena,” the Gloc-9 song that talked about the life of a gay person.
“For me the song had deep meaning and also I wanted to challenge myself to sing a Tagalog rap song,” said Rabtsun.
“It took me some practice and repetition but eventually it worked,” she added.
Romance led Rabtsun to learning Filipino and eventually, the Philippines.
She met her husband, a Filipino, in the United States in 2016. The couple are currently based in Naic, Cavite.
Rabtsun also runs a YouTube channel where she posts vlogs and covers of Filipino songs like “No Erase” by James Reid and Nadine Lustre, and “Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang,” originally by prolific Filipino singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid.
American David DiMuzio from Nashville, Tennessee fell in love with OPM when he first visited the Philippines in 2010.
“The first Filipino artist whose music I really started listening to all the time and became a big fan of was Rico Blanco,” said DiMuzio.
“My dad’s mom was Filipino so I’m part Filipino. I was always interested in the Philippines for many reasons,” he said, adding that he grew up with a Filipino best friend.
DiMuzio, 27, is noted for his YouTube videos, which are mostly covers of Filipino songs and have garnered over a million views.
The singer has also collaborated with local artists such as Yassi Pressman, Yeng Constantino, Sam Mangubat, and Aria Clemente.
In an effort to spread OPM to a wider audience, DiMuzio released in 2014 a project album comprised of English versions of Filipino songs such as “Hanggang” by Wency Cornejo and “Muli” by Rodel Naval.
“It is very difficult to reimagine a Tagalog song in a beautiful way in another language while at the same time still keeping the original intent of the lyrics. It took me months to perfect each song in that ‘Reimagined’ album project,’” DiMuzio recounted.