Wikipedia provides us a pretty fair definition of what OPM is. “Original Pilipino Music, now more commonly termed Original Pinoy Music or Original Philippine Music, (frequently abbreviated to OPM) originally referred only to Filipino pop songs, especially those in the ballad form, such as songs popularized in the 1970s through the mid-1990s by major commercial Filipino pop artists like Ryan Cayabyab, Kuh Ledesma, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Martin Nievera, Basil Valdez, Rey Valera, Regine Velasquez, Ogie Alcasid, Lani Misalucha, Lea Salonga, and APO Hiking Society.
In the passage of time as well as the development of many diverse and alternative musical styles in the Philippines, however, the term OPM now refers to any type of Original Philippine Music created in the Philippines or composed by individuals of Philippine extraction, regardless of location at the time when composed. The lyrics, in fact, may be in any language or dialect.
Although most of it are written either in Filipino/Tagalog, English or Taglish, OPMs written in foreign languages (eg. in Japanese), though handful, do exist.”
Monstrosity of Radio
I once asked a senior DJ from a renowned and Golden Dove Award-winning FM radio station in Manila if they are open to playing OPM (Original Pilipino Music) sung in neither Tagalog nor English. With cold honesty, he told me a two-letter but painful word: NO.
“Even if they’re really good?” I asked.
“Uh-huh,” he replied.
Trying to prick his conscience, I questioned, “Isn’t that a form of racial discrimination? Aren’t songs sung in other languages like Kapampangan, Waray-Waray, and Bisaya also Filipino, and thus, should be welcomed in your Original PILIPINO Music segments?”
“Sorry, dude, but that’s just how the business is,” he answered with finality. “It’s nothing personal.”
MTV Pilipinas is more mature and racially sensitive. Proud of our work on the music video of “Oras” by Mernuts and “Alang Anggang Sugat” by 5 Against The Wall, we contacted MTV Pilipinas and asked them if they are willing to incorporate in their OPM playlists our Kapampangan music videos, “since we’re Pilipino din naman.”
Surprisingly, they said yes and claimed that they are supportive of OPM regardless of the language being used. They even said they’re happy that movements to develop OPM in regional languages are occurring, citing the Visayan music scene, led by Bisrock or Bisaya Rock, as a good example.
The catch, however—which to me is just fair—is that the music videos should be at par with other music videos we see on TV. We had no problems with that, as we made sure that our music videos were in one way or another worth the attention.
And, thus, the first Kapampangan music video to air on MTV Pilipinas (in its OPM show called “Tong Hits”), “Oras” by Mernuts.
MYX on the other hand is an unfinished story, and we are still working on it.
Music of the Archipelago
Although there are some groups like MTV Pilipinas that support OPM from the regions, majority of the mass media still marginalize non-Tagalog and non-English OPM. It is for this reason that our group decided to attempt to make a change by creating our newest blog project: Archipelago Music: Philippine Music Without Borders.
Launched recently, it is a blog that will serve to promote new Philippine music (OPM) from the regions. It attempts to empower regional music, especially those sung in the various regional languages of the archipelago like Ilokano, Bikol, Kapampangan, Waray-Waray, Meranaw, etc., amidst the dominance of Tagalog and Pinoy English songs and music videos in the world of OPM.
This is one of the advocacy projects of Kalalangan Kamaru, a multidisciplinary team of Kapampangan youth seeking to develop and propagate Kapampangan pride, culture, and language to the Kapampangan youth. This time, it extends its ideologies to the other ethnolinguistic groups to empower the regions more and make the Philippines a truly multicultural yet unified nation, submitting proof to the infamous query: How can you love others [regions] if you don’t first love yourself [Kapampangan]?
The issue of a Tagalog- and English-centric OPM was first raised in GMA-7's “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho” in their segment “Promdi Rock.” It was Kalalangan Kamaru actually who fed them the idea of making a feature on that topic, including another segment that featured TV dramas from the regions.
We believe that if regions unite, Manila the capital will open its doors to regional OPM and thus, elevating regional OPM into national status, and thereby inspiring some sense of healthy competitiveness among the OPM artists from the regions, instead of aspiring for nothing beyond “Puwede na.”
The blog in its November launching has already featured three artists. First is Bronze P, the son of Ilonggo undergroup hiphop. Bronze P of La Paz, Iloilo City is an independent Ilonggo artist under his own production label, Bronze Beats, who makes urban beats and tunes in the Hiligaynon language.
Next is a Bisaya duo that has already received a national award, albeit in the regional category—the 2006 Awit Awards Best Regional Recording. As their homepage says, “Out of everyday-life ghettos and the ever changing urbanity, from what Dabawenyos call home hails a tandem that will conquer your senses and ravish you to your seats. Brandishing their acts to the hip hop and RnB groove, they're breaking into your audio waves to bring you their message that rightfully speaks of their collective name: Thavawenyoz.”
Also featured is the first Cuyonon band to make rock songs in the Cuyonon language, Bulyaw Mariguen. Hailing from the little island of Cuyo, Palawan, Bulyaw Mariguen are planning to launch an independent Cuyonon album this December.
More OPM artists, songs, and music videos from the regions will be featured in the future! A diverse music playlist of songs from different Philippine languages is also available in the blog. Archipelago Music will also post some essays and industry assessments that will certainly aid regional artists in their quest for empowerment.
In the words of an Ilokano blogger, “Adtoy pay ti maysa nga barbaro a website a natakuatak. Ti Archipelago Music ket mangipakpakita ken mangipadpadengngeg kadagiti kankanta nga naggapu kadagiti rehiyones ti Pilipinas. Adda man nangngegko idiay nga rap version ti Manang Biday! Mayat met! Agtultuloy koma dagiti kastoy a proyekto. Nagbayagen a Tagalog ti kankanayon a mangmangngeg kadagiti FM stations iti pagiliantayo. Rumbeng met ita nga selebrarantayo ti nadumaduma a kultura ti Filipino!”
Come and visit http://archipelago-music.blogspot.com