I love music. There’s no doubt about it. Music is life. When my grandfather was still alive, he’s gonna make sure you’ll listen to The Beatles, The Cascades, or Paul Anka, at least on Sundays. At a time when CDs, iPods, and Spotify were nonexistent, my mom would turn on the radio, and that was my first exposure to the music of Chicago, Air Supply, and Debbie Gibson (who’s music I’m gonna rediscovered later on and become obsessed with). My dad? He’s traditional. He loves folk music. As I entered into elementary school, teen pop rules the airwaves. NSYNC, Steps, A-Teens, S Club 7, Spice Girls, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, A1, Atomic Kitten, Boyzone, M2M, you name it. Among my classmates, the rivalry over fans of Westlife and Backstreet Boys was real. I was on BSB’s side, but let’s be honest, “My Love”, “Swear It Again” and “Fool Again” were simply teen pop music genius. It was also the height of the local music scene, too! There’s no Filipino 90s kid that doesn’t know Eraserheads, Rivermaya, Teeth, Parokya ni Edgar, and Moonstar 88. In high school, it was Vanessa Carlton, Michelle Branch, Matchbox Twenty, Oasis, and Evanescence. Then Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance. My first foray into metal was primarily Slipknot, after evolving into much faster and more aggressive Cradle of Filth and Opeth. As I entered through college, I started listening to goth, or gothic music. I still do. After starting out with Bauhaus and Siouxsie and the Banshees, I transitioned into Tristania and Theatre of Tragedy, until I found darkwave. I still listen to post punk and gothic metal, but I love darkwave more. Listening to Dead Can Dance, Arcana, Lycia, and Black Tape for a Blue Girl, it’s like taking your conscious self into a dream. Those airy, angelic, toned down voices whispering to you, the haunting, mysterious soundscapes that seems to transcend reality, it’s like a spiritual experience on its own.
My appreciation of various cultures coincided with my love of music. My love for J-pop / rock came from my obsession with Japanese movies, TV shows, and animé. Curiously, I wondered, how do other countries enjoy music? And with the advent of the Internet and YouTube, I thought, maybe, by watching foreign music videos, of which languages I don’t speak, may give me some insight on how they enjoy their own music and how they live their lives. I know, I know, it may sound shallow to some, but we all have our ways. It wasn’t the first time I listened (and watched music videos) of such. With the popularity of the Taiwanese TV series “Meteor Garden” back then, it was also the time I got to hear Taiwanese music, and you can’t escape it. On to my quest, I tried to look first for French pop music. French is a beautiful language, so why not? On my search, I found Superbus, their song “Apprends moi” (“Teach Me”) and the corresponding music video is just so fun to listen and watch. Then I found the pop and RnB style of Jena Lee. I discovered several songs and artists more that would be too many to mention. On “Apprends moi” alone, it took me 40+ times listening to the song over and over again just to be able to sing it. It was fun though, learning to speak a language because of a song. Next I tried German pop music, but honestly, I haven’t been able to pronounce words correctly, let alone sing it.
My most recent experience would be Indonesian pop music. If you’ve been following my blog posts, I just recently watched an Indonesian movie entitled “Mantan Terindah” (“My Most Beautiful Ex”) which as it says, “a story about the song”. I became an instant fan of it, due to its unique take on a romantic drama film. Indonesian and Filipino both came from the same Austronesian family of languages. It has similarities especially on some root words, but it doesn’t mean that one would understand full sentences of the other. I am only speaking for myself — I think their local music scene is very well appreciated. Meanwhile, I do admit that I’m not quite exposed to own my country’s local music nowadays, but by simply turning on the radio, most of the time you’ll only hear Western music, or a locally produced music in English language. Before I even started writing this, I thought of watching some OPM (Original Pilipino Music) on YouTube. I suddenly remembered the 2013 song “Dati” (lit. “Before” or “Back then”) written by Thyro Alfaro and Yumi Lacsamana and performed by Sam Concepcion and Tippy Dos Santos because its lyrics evoke childhood memories of most, if not all, Filipino kids in the 90s and early 2000s. Upon reading the comments section, I was surprised to find out that were people who weren’t Filipino, nor speak or understand the language, and yet they love the song! That’s just like me! Like what I do! (Of course, I try to look for the song’s translation to English if it’s available, it adds meaning to the music itself). I came to the realization that if foreigners love our music, so should us locals. Let’s be proud of our language, our own culture, and our own music. Because that’s what makes us stand out. That’s what makes us unique.