Hello friends! I’m back (for now). How are you all doing? It’s been a while since I wrote my last post, as I got myself focused in school and other endeavors.
It has been three years ago since I became part of this historical event. Little did I knew that performances, such as this one, would actually happen inside the train.
However, it was only a few days ago when I remembered about the LRT and MRT station performances. Held in the year 2007, concerts were rendered by the students and faculty of St. Scholastica’s College School of Music, as part of its centennial celebration activities (Estopace, 2007).
Fast forward to 2018, Philpop, in collaboration with the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM), held a series of concerts held at various LRT-1 stations. Some of the notable artists were Volts Vallejo, Jex de Castro, Ace, Dyamante, and many more.
Daily commutes will never be the same again with live performances as spectacular as these!
This year, more bands emerged in the OPM scene, especially with the launch of Coke Studio’s second season (which could have been culminated with a Christmas concert that was later postponed to early 2019). Some of the strongest acts this year were December Avenue (with their songs “Bulong” and the smash hit duet with Moira dela Torre, “Kung Di Rin Lang Ikaw”), IV of Spades, and I Belong to the Zoo (with their songs “Balang Araw” and “Sana”).
Ben&Ben became stronger in 2018 with their songs “Kathang Isip,” Exes Baggage OST “Maybe the Night,” and Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral OST “Susi.”
The Voice Kids alumnus JK Labajo, together with his band, juan karlos, has also made it into the music charts with songs “Sistema” and the chart-topping hit, “Buwan.”
As for the solo acts, The Voice Season 1 alumna Moira dela Torre and Tawag ng Tanghalan’s YouTube Idol Sam Mangubat dominated 2018.
Apart from a duet with December Avenue, dela Torre has released more original songs, such as “Tagpuan” and Glorious OST, “Saglit.” She has also released a cover version of Rey Valera’s “Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko,” which became the official theme song for the film, “The Hows of Us.”
On the other hand, Mangubat released three chart-topping singles, namely “Pagka’t Nariyan Ka,” “Clueless,” and Himig Handog 2018 entry, “Wala Kang Alam.” His concert last September, entitled “I Am Sam,” was also a sold-out event.
For the hiphop category, both Ex Battalion and Shanti Dope released chart-topping singles.
Vocal groups such as BoybandPH and MNL 48 also made it this year. While MNL 48 released Tagalog translations of “Aitakatta,” “Pag-ibig Fortune Cookie,” and “Talulot ng Sakura,” BoybandPH dominated the music charts with their songs “Hanggang Kailan Kaya” and Himig Handog 2018 entry “Para Sa Tabi.”
I have been binge-listening to MOR 101.9’s Dyis Is It lately to keep myself updated with the latest OPM hits. Here’s what I have discovered. The artists who have been topping the charts are Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 1 alumni Sam Mangubat and Froilan Canlas, as well as PBB Lucky 7 alumni Edward Barber and Maymay Entrata.
Apart from their followers’ support through votes, why did their song become the top hits at the moment?
Wala Nang Iba by Froilan Canlas
Launched last November 23, 2018 on ABS-CBN’s “It’s Showtime”, it talks about a guy who is about to confess his feelings to the girl he has been liking but initially too shy to admit. The song was written by Noell Fuellas, Canlas’s former student in songwriting.
2. Wala Kang Alam by Sam Mangubat
Originally one of the entries for this year’s Himig Handog, it talks about a guy who expresses his disappointment towards the girl who hardly understood his struggles. The song was written by Mel Magno and Martin John Arellano.
3. BMG by Edward Barber
BMG, an abbreviation for “Be My Girl,” talks about a guy who promises to give his greatest love for the girl he likes. The song was written by Mikel Arevalo.
4. Bituin by Maymay Entrata
Originally launched as a promotional song for ABS-CBN’s Star Hunt (the television network’s audition program), it is a dance-worthy EDM song. The song was written by Yeng Constantino.
During the last week of October, Mr. Pure Energy himself, Gary Valenciano, together with Bambi Mañosa Tanjutco, launched Awit at Laro, a project that celebrates the spirit of play (Awit at Laro, 2018). It presents modernized versions of traditional Filipino folk songs, as well as new compositions inspired by the well-loved Filipino games, such as Piko, Jack ‘En Poy, etc. Accompanied by Awit at Laro’s music is a coffee table book which contains the songs’ lyrics and artworks created by artists of Ang INK (Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan), which may be purchased either online or in one of Awit at Laro’s mall tours. Proceeds from the coffee table book sales will be for the benefit of Unicef and Tukod Foundation while the door art sales will be for the benefit of Museo Pambata. This project was also made in partnership with Shining Light Foundation.
The Awit at Laro album is produced by Star Music, Manila Genesis Entertainment & Management Inc., and GV Productions. It contains two parts, namely Awit and Laro. The Awit album contains nine recordings of traditional Filipino folk songs with modern twists, as well as “Bawat Isa Sa Atin,” an original song written and sung by Gary Valenciano. On the other hand, the Laro album contains ten recordings of originally written songs inspired by the most-loved Filipino games.
This article will feature the songs included in the album, as well as detailed descriptions of each song.
“Bahay Kubo” is one of the most popular Tagalog folksongs we have learned in our childhood years. Apart from the vegetables planted in the backyard, immaterial things, such as love, happiness, peace, and other intangible yet positive things make the “bahay kubo” not only a house filled with vegetation, but also a home that instills positive values. With the song’s recurring instrumentation (flute, djembe, humming, and kulintang), Jona’s vocals were light yet sincere, which complete the song’s positive feel.
“Sitsiritsit Alibangbang” may have had the innocent melody but its song’s last two stanzas talked about human trafficking.
Mama, mama, namamangka
Pasakayin yaring bata
Pagdating sa Maynila,
Ipagpalit ng manika.
Ale, aleng namamayong
Pasukubin yaring sanggol
Pagdating sa Malabon,
Ipagpalit ng bagoong.
These verses were even raised by comedian Vice Ganda during one of the episodes of It’s Showtime while the hosts were discussing the issue on the possible change of our National Anthem’s lyrics. Going back to the track itself, the bridge part served as a commentary to the aforementioned verses:
Pasensya na kung di maintindihan
Huwag ipagpapalit ang tao sa kabagayan
Pagsabihan lang pag sila’y nangungulit
Pagtiyagaan na lang, di na nauulit muli
Musically speaking, the TNT Boys’ version of this folksong has a dance-like feel, which had a fusion of 1990s Eurodance feels and milennial whoop. While the boys have a consistently seamless harmony, Mackie’s rap is clearly done and Keifer’s whistle register is consistently on-point. Francis’s belting lines are also powerful.
Katrina Velarde’s version of “Leron Leron Sinta” had a reggae and R&B feel. While the song’s lyrics were written as they are, Velarde’s voice was powerful yet soulful. Not to mention, her melismas were on point.
“Paru-Parong Bukid” is another Filipino folksong with a fusion of rock and rondalla, interpreted by Yeng Constantino. The interesting part about the song’s arrangement was that the rondalla trills blended well with the pop-rock arrangement.
“Magtanim ay Di Biro,” a Filipino folksong that talks about a farmer’s life, was interpreted by Bamboo and the Band (composed of Junjun Regalado, Simon Tan, Ardie de Guzman, Kakoy Legaspi, Abe Billano, and Ria Villena-Osorio). The sound has the usual rock feel, reminiscent of 1990s Rivermaya (led by Bamboo). The song’s melody departed from the original during the first time it was sung.
Lea Salonga’s “Pakitong-Kitong” is rather a commentary on bashing in general.
Bakit ba may ibang nambabangga at nananadya?
While the song’s original version talks about the struggle of catching crabs in the sea, Jungee Marcelo, the song’s composer has a different take on the “crabs” in the society. The so-called “crabs” are the ones who would do everything out of envy to pull successful people down, in favor of themselves. Musically, the song’s character is dark, which matched Salonga’s theatrical vocals.
Sam Concepcion’s version of the Bikol folksong, “Sarung Banggi” was a mix of Bikol and Tagalog lyrics. However, the Tagalog lyrics were not direct translations of the original Bikol text. Musically speaking, the song’s melody has a slight departure from the original and it has an EDM feel.
“Ati Cu Pung Singsing” is also in EDM, sung by Janella Salvador. The song commences with the Kapampangan folksong’s Tagalog translation, followed by some English lyrical content. It is sung in its original Kapampangan text during the middle part.
“Nanay, Tatay,” is a children’s game song which is reflective in the claps in the song’s beginning. Interpreted by Darren Espanto, Anne Curtis, and Gloc 9, it talks about patience, giving, and perseverance.
Tulungan mo ang sarili mo. Subukan mo at ang mararating mo ay malayo
Ending the Awit segment is Gary Valenciano’s and Mandaluyong Children’s Choir’s “Bawat Isa Sa Atin.” It is a ballad which talks about giving hope to the children, despite them being born out of struggles.
Bawat isa sa atin ay tulad nila.
Naghahanap ng pagmamahal at pag-aaruga
Kung ituloy ang laban,
Karapatan ng bawat batang nilalang
Balang araw nating masasaksihan
Buhay ng bawat batang
Matupad ang pangarap nila.
“Patintero,” performed by Lara Maigue and Mel Villena’s AMP Band, clearly shows how the game patintero is played. It also encourages children to play patintero to promote physical and mental alertness. Musically, it is set in big band jazz.
Similar to “Patintero,” KZ Tandingan’s “Tagu-Taguan” is a clear demonstration of the game. It is set in EDM.
“Piko,” performed by Morissette Amon, has the distinct sound of the Indonesian saron, especially in the beginning, which later transitions into EDM. Lyrically, it shows how popular the piko is, being a budget-friendly and environment-friendly game.
Joey Ayala’s “Luksong Tinik” is musically interesting. It does not only show how the game luksong tinik is played. It is a fusion of EDM and folk elements (guitar, kulintang, and kudyapi), reminiscent of what the UP TUGMA (an organization in the UP College of Music that focuses on Asian Music performance) is currently doing. The “Takbo, takbo, takbo, lukso” part is also playfully done.
Gary Valenciano and Ogie Alcasid’s “Sipa,” is a dance pop song which shows how the game sipa is played. It also describes how the ball used in such game looks like.
“Tumbang Preso,” performed by Kiana Valenciano and Billy Crawford, is basically a creative presentation of the tumbang preso scene. Musically, tinges of the pateteg and the takik are fused with EDM.
Bullet Dumas’s “Jak en Poy” does not only describe how the game is played. Dumas’s lyricism is creative, especially in the part, “Bato, talo sa papel, talo sa gunting.”This part reminds me of the choral arrangements of Filipino folksongs used in high school choral competitions, in terms of rhythmic structure.
“Pitik-Bulag,” performed by Julie Anne San Jose is an R&B love song. It likens the pitik bulag game to romance in general which is full of surprises.
“Touch and Move” talks about the touch and move game by itself. This song molds AC Bonifacio, not only as the dancer who won in ABS-CBN’s Dance Kids, but also as a total performer who can actually sing!
The Laro portion ends with Gary Valenciano’s “Saranggola.” Written by Ebe Dancel, the song talks about letting our dreams (represented by the kite) fly higher and holding onto them with our supporters’ guidance (represented by the kite’s string). The song itself is anthemic and powerful.
The album itself is kid-friendly because those listening to the tracks will not only enjoy the songs’ modern feel. The songs also impart important lessons through the lyrics added. The coffee table book is also a great gift this Christmas season.
To have a sneak peak of the album, here is the Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure.
DISCLAIMER: This blog entry is based on the author’s experience as one of the performers in the said event.
Last September, my family was watching ASAP when the TNT Boys did a production number with ASAP Divas Morissette Amon, Bituin Escalante, and Klarisse de Guzman. The TNT Boys revealed that time that they are going to hold their major concert in Araneta Coliseum, much to my delight, as well as my mom’s. They started to sell the tickets a month after this, which signaled me to go to Ticketnet to buy a ticket as the concert tickets might sell out fast as the concert day goes near. I initially wanted to write a review on the TNT Boys’ concert since they have been making waves both here and abroad.
Guess what actually happened? I ended up becoming part of their sold-out concert, much to my excitement. But how?!
One Wednesday afternoon, I was doing my EPAPC duties at home (through my laptop) when my phone beeped. I got a Facebook message from TNT’s vocal coach Froilan Canlas who invited me to do backing vocals with the BFFC Singers (a vocal group composed of his supporters and friends) for the TNT Boys’ production number on Showtime, two days from then. I said “Yes” since my schedule was free on that day and this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Backup singer mode ON. Hmmm… Know the assigned piece by heart. Don’t be late. Don’t forget your costume (Including makeup!). Those were the top three performer’s commandments. It was a good thing that I was still able to remember those top three rules so I was at my calmest during our performance in Showtime. I remembered being too stiff during my previous days as a chorister, especially in media-oriented events. What I did was just to focus on the performance itself: the parts, the blockings, as well as instructions from the stage manager. I kept on reminding myself constantly to just look at the studio audiences to counter my nervousness. Overall, our performance went well. We just had to wait for a few days regarding our possible appearance in the TNT Boys’ Concert in Araneta.
It was roughly a week when we learned that the BFFC Singers’ performance in Araneta will push through. We were advised that apart from O Holy Night, Jingle Bells and Carol of the Bells will also be performed. Two sessions (Only went to one as I had evening classes in graduate school on the other day.) of technical rehearsals in ABS-CBN were held days before the performance.
NOVEMBER 30, 2018 The stars are born!!! The Big Shot Trio TNT Boys held their sold-out concert called “Listen: The Big Shot Concert” at the Araneta Coliseum with a jam-packed crowd. The Kids’ Choice Host Eric Nicolas, “Ate Girl” Jacque Gonzaga, and “Kuya Escort” Ion Perez were the front acts which helped the audience become more energized throughout the show. The TNT Boys commenced their show with an arrangement of Jennifer Holiday’s “And I Am Telling You” with an explosive “TNT” LED background. All three of them channeled their stellar vocal power and blend as they brought the entire house down. They next performed a cover of the Bee Gees’ “Words” and “Too Much Heaven,” the first impersonation they did in the second season of Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids, which became a viral video. It was followed by a performance of Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” together with Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 1 Grand Champion Noven Belleza, Tawag ng Tanghalan Kids Grand Champion Jhon Clyd Talili, and Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 2 Grand Champion Janine Berdin. They ended the segment with Queen’s “Somebody To Love.”
Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids alumni Xia Vigor, Onyok Pineda, Sheenna Belarmino, Noel Comia, Esang de Torres, Chun-sa Jung, and Krystal Brimner did a reprise of the impersonations they did in the said show. Xia, dressed as Taylor Swift, performed “You Belong With Me” while Onyok, dressed as Steven Tyler performed “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing.” Sheenna made the audiences cheer with amazement as she performed Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” in the style and look of KZ Tandingan. Theater actors Noel Comia Jr. and Esang de Torres performed a la Mick Jagger and Liza Minnelli respectively where they showed their best in both vocal and stage projection. Chun-sa performed “All About That Bass” in both the vocal and fashion style of Meghan Trainor while theater actress Krystal Brimner showed the vulnerable side of Miley Cyrus as she performed “Wrecking Ball.”
The TNT Boys brought the entire house once again as they returned onstage as Jessie J (Mackie), Ariana Grande (Keifer), and Nicki Minaj (Francis). They performed their winning piece in Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids called “Bang Bang.” Francis showed his swag-worthy but clearly-enunciated rapping skills and he was in Nicki’s character throughout the song.
A quick banter between the Big Shot Trio and singer comedienne K Brosas (dressed as Jessie J) took place before K performed a cover version of Jessie J’s “Price Tag.”
The trio’s number with Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids coach Jed Madela was a powerful one, as they performed Sergio Mendes’s “Bridges” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Their performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” reminded me of Eumee’s performance during the Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 1 Grand Finals because of the song’s last instrumental part. Jed finished the segment with his version of John Lennon’s “Stand By Me.”
In one of the interviews conducted on ABS-CBN, the TNT Boys revealed that a dance number will be included, which they actually did in the concert. They performed a medley of K-Pop songs (Wondergirls’ “Nobody,” Blackpink’s “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du,” 2NE1’s “Fire,” and Momoland’s “Boom Boom”) with a futuristic LED background, reminiscent of video games.
They next performed Spice Girls’ “Viva Forever,” with two aerial silk dancers, storybook-like setting, and male choir (from BFFC Singers) in the band area. It was followed by a heavenly version of Beyoncé’s “Halo” and a powerful “The Greatest Showman” number, “A Million Dreams.” It was after this number when we were asked to standby.
The TNT Boys performed “Bawat Isa Ay Bata,” official theme song of Bantay Bata 163 where they have donated the cash prize they have obtained from The Kids’ Choice.
With Sir Froi on keyboard, the trio performed “I Wanna Look That Way.” As they performed the said song, the songs lyrics were flashed on the LED backdrop.
Comedian Vice Ganda was the biggest act among that night’s guests as the crowd roared when he appeared in his unicorn-like costume. The TNT Boys were wholeheartedly thankful for Meme Vice who was one of the reasons why the TNT Boys were formed.
They performed DoReMi (Donna Cruz, Regine Velasquez, and Mikee Cojuangco)’s “I Can.” Meme Vice was extremely spontaneous that he continued doing his usually impromptu banter. He encouraged everyone to watch his upcoming film “Fantastica” before he exited the stage.
The BFFC Singers (where I became part of), conducted by the Songsmith himself, opened the Christmas segment with their version of Ukranian carol based from the folksong “Shchedryk,” “Carol of the Bells.” I first learned this song back in high school and it was extremely crucial for the words to be clearly enunciated. This has been one of the challenging songs for choirs, not only because of its speed. Crispness is a must for this piece.
Okay, back to the show, we, together with the TNT Boys performed Jingle Bells, complete with Christmas elements. I personally enjoyed doing this number as I found this quite cute. I ended up smiling during the entire song. We next did O Holy Night. This time, the boys’ whistles were executed more neatly.
Petula Clark’s “Downtown” and Jessie J’s “Flashlight” were the songs dedicated to the trio’s supporters. As they performed “Flashlight” a live feed of the Araneta audiences were shown. The show ended with the boys’ emotional version of Beyonce’s “Listen,” the song that became a road to their success.
Of all the choral performances I have been part of, I have enjoyed doing this the most. The atmosphere was quite light and I felt I was able to deliver with minimal tension. I have always reminded myself to keep calm, focus, and enjoy.
Going back to the concert itself, the theme for each segment was not only kid-friendly. The songs performed by the trio were inspirational, which are enjoyed by both the young and old. For the record, the TNT Boys are the youngest acts who showcased a successful concert at the Big Dome. Congratulations to the TNT Boys, as well to the people behind them, especially Sir Froi*, their vocal coach who continues to guide them not only to become better singers but to also remain humble and friends with each other.
*- I personally thank him for giving me the opportunity to not only perform as one of the backing vocalists, but to also become part of the TNT Boys’ success that night. 🙂
“Sa Jingle Magazine natutong mag-gitara. Sinifra ang mga kanta sa cassette at plaka.”
I have heard this line from a song called “Betamax,” one of the most popular songs of Filipino band Sandwich. If we think of learning music, the first things that come to our minds are clefs, staves, note stems, and note heads. It’s fine because those elements were recurring in our MAPEH classes.
However, learning music, especially here in the Philippines is more than those elements. Here are some of the other ways music is learned and practiced.
1. Oral Tradition – This is the earliest method of learning music. The leader teaches the material and s/he continues to pass it from one generation to another. This is commonly done in teaching chants, Cordillera ensemble patterns, and kulintang.
2. Written Notation – The Western version is commonly found in learning materials used in conservatories, whether for instrument classes or for theory classes. Both the Chinese and Japanese use numbered notations where each pitch corresponds to a number.
3. “Ouido” – Also known as “sifra” in Tagalog slang, this is commonly done by bands performing in bars. As they hear an existing recording, they try to either decipher the chords as heard or tweak them a little. Cues are learned from the recordings provided but music directors and vocal coaches are present during rehearsals to guide the performers.
Last Friday, November 16, the Big Shot Trio TNT Boys launched their Christmas single, their own version of “O Holy Night,” on ABS-CBN’s “It’s Showtime”.
Aside from promoting their upcoming concert, “Listen: The Big Shot Concert,” they performed the said song with the BFFC singers (or Best Friends of Froilan Canlas; a choir composed of friends and supporters of Songsmith and the TNT Boys’ vocal coach Froilan Canlas) and the TNT Band (headed by the concert’s musical director Elhmir Saison). The instrumental parts were arranged by Naldy Rodriguez while the vocal parts (both the TNT Boys’ and the BFFC Singers’ parts) were arranged by Canlas. Having invited by the Songsmith himself to become part of this production number, I personally enjoyed doing this stint. Looking forward to more opportunities similar to this!
This particular version has a grand choral entrance, which multiplies the power of the instrumental parts. As the choral part ends, Keifer starts soft in the first stanza and so does Francis. Mackie’s “A thrill of hope” part reminds me a bit of Mariah Carey’s version because of his vocal shifts. The song gradually progresses when all of them sing in harmony during the “Fall on your knees” part. The BFFC singers re-enter with the variation of the opening passage before their contrapuntal “A thrill of hope part.” The song grows bigger when the TNT Boys and BFFC singers sing together in “Fall on your knees.” The most climactic part is during the key change in “O night divine” from a B-flat to a D-flat. In this particular part, the boys’ sing in the whistle register. The song tones down a bit in the last “O night divine” after their counterpoint with the BFFC singers. Before the instruments fade little by little, both groups sing the same line, “O night divine,” which ends with the boys’ whistle register. Then they sing the line, “O night divine,” in a soft unison before the “O holy night” counterpoint with each other. The song ends softly with the BFFC singers’ and the TNT boys’ D-flat chord.
Want more from the Big Shot Trio? Catch the TNT Boys in “Listen: The Big Shot Concert” on November 30, 8pm at the Araneta Coliseum, together with Vice Ganda, Jed Madela, K Brosas, Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 1 Grand Champion Noven Belleza, Tawag ng Tanghalan Kids Grand Champion Jhon Clyd Talili, Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 2 Grand Champion Janine Berdin, fellow Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids performers Chun-sa Jung, Xia Vigor, Noel Comia Jr., Esang de Torres, Krystal Brimner, Sheenna Belarmino, and Onyok Pineda. Box, Upper Box, and General Admission tickets are still available at Ticketnet Outlets.