By Ogie Alcasid
As a child, my exposure to Filipino music was through the songs of Rico J. Puno and Basil Valdez. There were many instances that led me to the musician’s path, one of which was when I had to play as Oliver in a La Sallian production of Oliver Twist. I remember also playing games with my cousins where we would be writing songs and let each other hear our personal compositions. When our family would go out to dinner, the house band of the restaurant would ask me to sing with them and I would gamely and enthusiastically do my Rico J impressions. Plus all those family reunions where I was always requested to sing a la Rico J., all of these contributed to who I am right now.
OPM is our home
In 2010, I was nominated to be president of Organization of Pilipino Musicians. It is a non-stock, non-profit organization that seeks to promote original Pilipino music (OPM) and, at the same time, take care of the welfare of its members. When we started, we had no money. The board had to continuously create fundraising events just to sustain our operations. There was this “propaganda” going around saying “OPM is dead” and we had to directly negate this with numerous campaigns. A major breakthrough was when then President Noynoy Aquino declared the last week of July as Linggo ng Musikang Pilipino and when the DSWD gave us the accreditation as a legitimate and credible civil society organization. OPM is not dead, it is very much alive.
To quote Jose Mari Chan, “music is the language of the soul.” As Filipinos, this cannot be any truer. We love our music. Our music makes us feel very Filipino. I remember when “Mga Kababayan” had such a huge impact on us. Every time Aegis would sing “Ayoko sana na ikaw ay mawawala,” Filipinos would go wild. The Pinoys would swoon when they heard “Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang.” When I and my fellow Filipino artists perform abroad, our audiences clamor for OPM because it brings them back home. I’ve observed that a lot of our singers are gaining international popularity for having the best and the most distinct voices. That Filipino voice is recognized all over the world.
Modern music consumption and the direction of OPM
Music has changed a lot over the years. Back then, songs were recorded with full and live orchestrations unlike today, when a lot of the music we hear is from software synths and samples. The listening experience was also very much different back then because we would have to take an active part in listening to music as we would use turntables and cassettes. Nowadays, we just turn on our iPods or go on Spotify. This generation’s music consumption is far different from my generation. And Millennials, I think, rarely consume an entire album. This is the culture that Spotify has created. CDs are slowly becoming a niche market. Surprisingly though, vinyl records are keeping up and even increasing in sales.
Personally, I am excited with the new technology that is being used in selling music. The platforms are very easily accessible. It is on demand. It has fantastic sound. Purists would always say that the analog sound is way better but then again people nowadays are after the experience of being moved by music. Sound seems to be secondary for many. Also, the discovery of fresh talent is instantaneous. Artists are instantly famous because of the extensive reach of the platforms. They can command their own audience as soon as their following reaches the millions. These supposed challenges are fantastic opportunities for the artists to showcase their music.
I hear so many local bands now that will not play anything but OPM—old OPM and new OPM. It sounds so good. For me, it boils down to the complete joy of experiencing our own music. That is why both the indie and mainstream movements are strong. Mainstream breakthrough artists such as Iñigo Pascual topped the billboard charts. Regine Velasquez Alcasid’s concert was sold out in minutes. These are some from among many positives that we can point as an upward direction for our beloved OPM.