With BillboardPH’s official Philippine Charts now up and active, local audiences can now see instantly who the current stars are in the eyes and ears of the general public. But everybody starts from someplace anonymous, don’t they? Here then are a few names who may just enter public consciousness, whether upfront or behind-the-scenes, or perhaps even both.
It wasn’t long ago when FILSCAP launched their very first Songwriter’s Night last year at The Brewery. The organization doesn’t get tired of treating their open mic-ers to surprise performances by veteran singer-songwriters like Noel Cabangon. As anticipated, the Filipino folk singer and former FILSCAP president delivered an intermission number.
“I’m half Ilocano and half Bicolano. Sumunod lang kayo ah,” said Noel. 19East Bar & Grill was filled with voices echoing lyrics from Cabangon’s Ilocano reggae song “Panawenen.” As he sung through each phrase, he casually injected English translations. “Manong means brother. Wen manong, wen manang. Gender sensitive tong kanta. Can we do it again?”
Twenty-three year old Valenzuela-based singer-songwriter Mico Salazar, accompanied by Vanessa Pinero, represents the a handful of open mic participants who travelled distances to be part of FILSCAP’s Songwriters Night. Four years into the craft, and Salazar is just beginning to discover the buckets of opportunities he has ahead of him. Besides his performances in debut celebrations and on the streets he explains, “Ito yung unang beses ko tumtugtog sa ganitong bar. Ito yung first time ko po. Ang saya. Parang gusto kong kumanta ng sampo, sunod-sunod.”
“Hindi hadlang yung condition ko. Hindi hadlang. Basta tuloy lang sa dream,” says Salazar who is also a Glaucoma patient who has undergone at least four eye operations after his basketball injury in 2009.
Among his influences are few who have previous experience in competitive songwriting including: Davey Langit, Thyro And Yumi, Ben&Ben, Ramiru Mataro, and Ebe Dancel. He describes songwriting competitions like Himig Handog as one of the stepping stones he’d like to chase in order to jumpstart his career.
Mico is just one of many who took the leap and performed in front of huge record label and network representatives.
Another musical act at the FILSCAP’s Songwriters Night is composed of Salus Tiedro and Michael Abalos who together carry a five-piece band by the name Titus.
They began writing and playing as Titus in 2013, forming a group of “basketball friends, friends of friends, churchmates,” back in Laoag City, Ilocos. The two admit they are fond of writing love songs and songs that take their listeners through a nostalgic experience. Three of their band members, 2 guitarists and a drummer, are overseas on business trips to Cambodia and Indonesia.
They were present at the first FILSCAP open mic and since then have obtained opportunities they could only dream of. “Nainvite kami sa PinasFM.” The band makes it a point to visit Metro Manila “everytime na may FILSCAP,” they share.
June is an exciting month for the band for which they’ve planned a one-week brainstorm and recording session. “Marami na kaming songs, pero nagusap kami kanina, 8 songs muna. Pag okay na, pasa kami ng demo sa mga pwedeng pasahin.”
Tiedro nudges Abalos jokingly “Tapos ang weirdo ‘to eh. Minsan nananaginip ng lyrics tas ibabagon, tas isusulat niya tas iprepresent niya sa banda. Ok yun na. Haha.”
“Dreams, experiences of other people,” The two laugh. “I wrote about his experience!”
The two consider their individual palette of influences as contrasting. “Iba-iba kami talaga ng type.” Tiedro listens to Bamboo, Urbandub, Franco; Abalos listens to Rico Blanco, Rivermaya, Eraserheads, and Coldplay.
Present and on the lookout for talent at Songwriter’s Night was FILSCAP’s Corporate Secretary Kedy Sanchez, who is also GMA Record’s Artist & Repertoire Manager.
He tells BillboardPH he has his eye on one performer whom he describes as “the middle aged lady who sang in acapella. I wanna talk to her. I wanna expose that particular song that she just sang. She didn’t have a really good voice. She had no accompaniment but my god the sincerity. Naiiyak siya while singing it. Can you imagine if that was performed by a Sarah Geronimo with the ABS-CBN orchestra? The message is very universal. Very universal. Everybody’s had the feeling. Lamang na yan! Cause people identify with that song nga diba?”
Aside from scouting talent, Sanchez comes to FILSCAP Songwriters Night with the intention of exposing himself and understanding new trends in music. “The paradigm of the music business shifted drastically! From the records to digital. So the usual, what we learned and what we experienced with regards to marketing, production, A&R, etc. It didn’t work anymore. Totally different. That gave the young people equal footing to us old fogies.”