THERE is another songwriting contest that aims to promote original compositions and that uses the Bisaya language. It is called “Kanta Kasingkasing” and what distinguishes it from the rest is that a Manila-based company is bankrolling it.
The Cebu Pop Music Festival is the longest running songwriting competition in the Philippines having outlasted the Metro Manila Pop Music Festival that flourished during the Marcos era. While I may sound like a broken record, I must say that Cebu Pop has failed to produce a bonafide national hit since its inception.
But it must be admitted that it became the stepping stone for such composers as Jimmy Borja and Jude Gitamondoc whose songs have been recorded by most of the popular singers of the Philippines.
The upstart Vispop, on the other hand, has become an oasis for the more progressive composers, and seems to have captured the hearts and ears of millennials not just among Bisaya-speaking listeners, but even those that do not speak the language.
Other contests are more focused, such as the “Huniño” in honor of the Santo Niño and the “Pasko sa Sugbo Original Daygon” that was held in December 2016.
With or without the contests, Cebuano songwriters and bands have been independently producing materials, some of which have made it to the playlist of radio stations. It is amazing that New Cebu Music stalwarts like 40-The Band and BTU, for instance, still draw crowds and latter-day alt-groups The Ambassadors and Missing Filemon are garnering fans outside of Cebu.
And add to that the boldness of artists coming out with independently-produced albums such acts as Cattski, Jude Gitamondoc, Sheila & The Insects and Paul Melendez. I, too, am busy remastering some of my original materials for a projected “Best of” album.
But let us go back to the “Kanta Kasingkasing.” Unlike Cebu Pop and Vispop, its rules and regulations are strict and detailed. If Viva South is going to throw good money, might as well protect that investment. This competition is an acknowledgment that Cebu has become a key player in Original Pilipino Music.
If and when Viva South gets to produce a national hit, other Manila-based companies may just follow suit.
I urge our local record producers to be more business-savvy while committing to promote creativity. That no one dictates the music style or sound of our composers and bands is the main ingredient that makes Cebu the most important venue in the continuing development of Original Pilipino Music.