HOW times have changed for Bisaya music artists as they invaded Manila in the Pinoy Playlist Music Festival at Sun Life Amphitheatre at BGC Arts Center. On Oct. 19, Jerika Teodorico, Lourdes Maglinte, Jacky Chang, Kurt Fick, Zhalia, Malaya Macaraeg, Medyo Maldito and Intertwined planted the flag of Bisaya Orig in Imperial Manila to lay claim as a legitimate force in Original Pilipino Music.
Millennials no longer relate Visayan music to classics like “Matud Nila” and “Usahay” or to novelty songs such as “Magellan” or “Gihidlaw Na Intawon Ako.” The new anthems include “Hahaha Hasula” and “Pero Atik Ra” that joins earlier ones like Jr. Kilat’s “Ako Si M-16” and Missing Filemon’s “Englisera.” There are also Bisaya bands that stand as equals to those in Manila such as Sheila & The Insects, Urbandub and Franco.
It has been a long struggle for original Bisaya musicians, as in the past they had to follow the dictates of Manila producers and talent managers. Many relocated themselves in the capital to promote their materials and to sustain their art. Among the most known are Pilita, Dulce, Chad Borja, Yoyoy Villame and Max Surban. You can include there Joey Ayala and Gary Granada who are from Mindanao. There were also bands like Odds & Ends and Times Two (Vince Borromeo and Joel Oporto), as well as composers like Jimmy Borja.
We must salute the likes of Jude Gitamondoc, Ian Zafra, Cattski Espina and Insoy Niñal for holding fort in Cebu. Jude could have made a lucrative career in Manila writing songs for popular artists, but he decided to stay in Cebu and made local talents like Jacky Chang and Kurt Fick known nationwide. Ian (of Sheila & The Insects) started a band called The End, producing great rock songs that caught the attention of NU Rock and other rock-oriented stations in Manila. He now champions intellectual rights of artists in the Visayas. Cattski is a holdout independent record producer who continues to scout for outstanding local artists. Insoy, a writer-composer-entrepreneur-teacher, with his band Missing Filemon has lifted the status of Bisrock with his Bisaya songs with social commentaries.
This may just be the golden age of Bisaya Orig, and already those Manila producers are poaching talents to make big bucks. I can only say to local artists not to be tied up to long-term contracts with Manila producers. I’ve learned that from Max Surban. He now produces his own materials without the dictates from the powers-that-be.
In far New Zealand, we are doing our little share. Bisaya artists including KALUHA, one of the pioneers of Bisrock, gathered on Oct. 14 for a concert where we sang original Bisaya materials. We felt the love of the audience.
We have decided to produce an album of Bisaya Orig materials. Hopefully these artists will get their breaks as well: Kayth Alex, James Bonocan, JBM Brothers, Jack of All Trades and PINASugbo.