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a feature article by Gino Bermudez

“I think the poets and musicians
and artists are of the age - not
only do they lead the age on,
but they also reflect that age.”
John Lennon

In 21
Century Philippines, the
music scene now is very different
from the music scene back in the
dekada sisenta up to the music
scene in the early 2000’s. A
change and development in society
can be seen now compared to the
1980’s. Changes in government
ruling, in infrastructure, in
hairstyles, in cuts of pants, in the
music scene are identifiable
between the different ages.

Together with the trapper keepers
and denim jackets, cassettes played
glam rock and bubble gum pop in
the 80’s. This reflected the fun-
loving carefree happy-go-lucky
Filipinos back in the Philippine
society then.

One of Sharon Cuneta’s albums back in the
But now in 2013, what does the music
Filipinos listen to say about our society?


Kamikazee, Spongecola, Parokya ni
Edgar. These names scream out
one word that describes the
popular music they play – Rakenrol!

There’s something all too familiar
in hearing the heavy guitar riffs and
progressive drum beats. As soon as
manong in the taxi turns on the
radio, you’d know at once you’re
in the Philippines when you hear
their songs.

OPM rock is one of the most
popular music genres in the
Philippines. There’s something
about it that almost all Filipinos
admire. Maybe it’s in the genre or
playing style, or in the meaning of
the lyrics of the songs. Or maybe
it’s in the fact the music is Filipino.

A Parokya ni Edgar music video screenshot

Uso pa ba ang harana?

If you sang that line in your head,
then my point is proven that these
rakenrol bands are prevalent in the

This Philippine rock genre
expresses the Filipinos’ patriotic
and proud hearts in songs like
Noypi by Bamboo. Spongecola’s
Tuliro strongly expresses the
painful emotions in the song.
Rakenrol speaks, no shouts, very
openly and strongly the emotions
felt in the hearts of Filipinos.


If you’re reading this in 2013,
surely you know the names Daniel
Padilla, Sarah Geronimo, and
Charice. No musical artists can be
better known than the celebrity

These celebrity artists are the artists
people go crazy about. They are the
ones you see on television and on
the movie screen.

Girls go gaga over Daniel Padilla,
especially when he sings to them
his single, Nasa Iyo Na Ang Lahat.
Fans of Sarah Geronimo and
Charice go crazy over these
performers’ amazing talent and
vocal range in their songs Bakit Pa
Ba? and Pyramid respectively.

Daniel Padilla, one of the most influential pop
artists in the country

Not only do these people act well
in movies and perform
internationally, but they are also a
large influence in Filipino society.
The clothes they wear and the
lifestyles they live, their fans mimic.
The things these artists endorse get
popular because of their influence.
One example is how after Daniel
Padilla was in the commercial of
Marty’s Chicharon, more people,
mostly his fans began consuming
this snack. They are more than
pretty faces and captivating
personalities. They are the
trendsetters of our country. They
are whom the Filipino idolize and
want to be like. These artists are
very successful because of their
talents. Their influence in the
Philippine music scene is why you
hear a lot of Filipinos singing the
birit kind of songs. They idolize
how these artists sing and wish to
sing like them and, maybe become
like them.

The Philippine Pop genre is a
transforming genre. With all the
Filipinos singing these pop songs,
wishing to improve at singing
them, these artists serve as idols
that the common people get their
hopes from, that someday they
would be that successful too. These
artists also transform the lifestyle of
pop culture. They set the trend for
fashion and lifestyle of the Filipino

Pop expresses the want of Filipinos
to fit in, yet stand out. Filipinos
naturally want to be accepted yet at
the same time be successful in the

Beyond Pop

Every year, new artists emerge into
the music scene. This year, 2013, Up
Dharma Down and Never the
Strangers are only two of the many
emerging artists that are slowly
making their way to the spotlight of
the music scene.

But these two emerging artists are
unique in sound compared to the
previously described genres. Their
sound is beyond the popular taste.

On one hand, Up Dharma Down
gives off this mellow techno sound.
Something about the voice of Armi,
their frontwoman, that gives depth
to their music. Every time I let some
of my friends listen to their songs,
they get surprised when I tell them

they are a Filipino band. Their
sound is globally competitive. The
fan base of Up Dharma Down is not
restricted to the Philippines only,
but also includes fans from
neighboring Asian countries. Just
last month, they were asked to hold
concerts in Singapore.

Armi, and Up Dharma Down in a studio

On the other hand, Never The
Strangers is one of the examples of
those college bands that end up
famous for the uniqueness of their
sound. My sister introduced me to
this band when she was still in
college with the members of this
band. I was hooked by their British
underground-esque sound the first
time I heard them live when they
were still sophomores in college.
Their song Alive has this Coldplay
vibe to it that it gets from the head
bobbing drum beats, unique guitar
licks, and catchy piano riffs. That
song I first heard three years ago is
now on the Top Ten of Myx and is
played on the radio almost every

Never The Strangers in a Myx Live performance

Up Dharma Down, Never The
Strangers, and other artists beyond
the pop genre show resiliency.
Despite the fact their sound is
beyond the taste of most people at
the time they entered the music
scene, they still pursue the sound
that best represented themselves.
In turn, their resiliency led to the
popularity of their songs now. Like
these artists, the Filipino people are
resilient. Filipinos never let their
dreams be broken because of
hurdles that are in the way.

The Filipino People

Relating to John Lennon’s quote
about how the artists of the age
not only lead the age on, but also
reflect that age, the music scene in
the Philippines now tells about the
Filipino people in 2013.

Filipinos are open and true to their
emotions, as seen in the rakenrol
side of the music scene. The loud
genre exemplifies the Filipino
people’s want to be heard. In this
genre, different emotions are
conveyed loudly and clearly for
others to hear.

There is a want to fit in, yet stand
out at the same time in the Filipino
society. Being accepted in the norm
is a trait most, if not all Filipinos
have. They always have to have the
latest phone, wear the newest
clothes, and live a lifestyle that
follows what is popular. But there is
also a want to stand out despite
this want to be in the trend. In their
own ways, Filipinos are unique to
themselves. Filipinos strive to
succeed through the unique talents
they have. Filipinos fit in and stand
out at the same time.

Like the artists beyond pop who
never stopped playing music
despite the hurdles in their way,
Filipinos are resilient. The music of
the artists beyond pop was not
popular at the time they entered
the music scene, but because they
did not stop playing, their music is
now well known. Filipinos never
give up on what they want, and
what they dream for. In the storms
and floods that we recently
experienced, Filipinos stood back
up and lived stronger than before.

Filipinos lifting a giant Philippine flag in an arts
and culture festival

Loud, unique, and resilient. Those
three words encompass what the
current music scene in the
Philippines is. Those three words
too encompass what the Filipinos
of 2013 are like.

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