Q&A: Vispop 3.0 winning songwriters on the mother tongue and its many melodies
Interview by Deneb Batucan
Photos by Gerard Yuvallos
FOR the past three years, Vispop has produced quality Visayan songs that are not only enjoyed by Cebuanos but in the entire country as well. As a songwriting campaign, Vispop is geared toward encouraging composers and music enthusiasts to write Visayan songs that are relevant to the times.
In Vispop 3.0 held at SM City Cebu last June, Lourdes May Maglinte emerged as this year’s grand champion with her upbeat song “Buwag-balik.” In second place was the love ballad “Pangandoy” by Irving Guanzon and John Cadeliña, while third was the kilig and cute love song “Bok Love,” written by Therese Marie Villarante and Felipe Angelo Raphael Calinawan.
Sun.Star Weekend gets a closer listen to what these five talented musicians have to say about writing music in their mother tongue.
Why did you choose to join Vispop 3.0?
Lourdes: I was rather hesitant this year. Last minute na kaayo ko naka-decide sa pag-apil. My friends and family encouraged me to join, and I figured that I wanted to experience the whole journey again. Vispop gives you the opportunity to share your music, to learn, to inspire and be inspired and to meet people who share the same passion for art and music.
Irving: Karon ra kong tuiga ni-join og songwriting contest and that is also because of John when I asked him to join. We joined the yearly Cebu Pop Music Festival last January and were able to make it to the finals. So we tried Vispop.
John: I joined Vispop because I was really astonished sa mga previous Vispop songs nga akong nadunggan. Very interesting indeed.
Therese: I joined Vispop because I believe that to breathe life into OPM, Filipino songwriters and listeners must recognize the beauty in our different languages and culture. I believe that there are stories only a Cebuano or Ilocano or Waray or Tagalog or Surigaonon or a Hiligaynon can tell. We believe in each and every Filipino’s song.
Angelo: A few years ago, I left my nursing profession to pursue my passion for music. I didn’t have any proper experience and knowledge about music production in general, but I knew that’s what I really wanted to do. So I apprenticed in a recording studio, and I’ve been working as a freelance musician, arranger and sound engineer ever since. Up to this day, I’m still learning and perfecting my craft. I’d like to think that I joined Vispop as a sort of affirmation, if I was making progress. I want to do this for a living and it’s encouraging to know my work is being accepted in good favor.
What’s the story behind your song?
Lourdes: “Buwag-Balik” is about a complicated on and off relationship. Nakahunahuna ko’g suwat sa kanta kay kabantay ko nga daghan kaayo ko’g kaila nga ingon ana og sitwasyon. Just hearing their stories made me think just how exhausting it must be. Yet, it also made me wonder ngano nga bisag unsa na kita kakapoy ug kadaghang reklamo, they still manage to work things out and get back together.
Irving: Actually, it was John who wrote “Pangandoy,” in Tagalog pa. He asked me to help him translate it unya pag han-ay sa mga titik ngadto sa Bisaya. Para nako ang kanta is about sa gugma ug paglaom sa usa ka tawo ngadto sa usa ka binuhat nga mao’y naghatag og inspirasyon sa iyang kinbuhi.
John: I first wrote “Pangandoy” in Tagalog three years ago. It’s not just a love song. Isa sa inspirasyon nako in writing this is my fascination with stars. Mura sila ug mga pangandoy nato sa kinabuhi nga gusto natong abton.
Therese: “Bok Love” is about a couple who has gained an incredible amount of weight together. Love isn’t picture perfect. There shouldn’t be such pressure to create and maintain an attractive appearance. Love changes our definition of beauty. Flaws and insecurities should never threaten our relationships. The song is about being found, being loved for who you are and suddenly seeing yourself perfect in the eyes of another.
Angelo: When you’re in a relationship with someone, you go through a lot of phases. The “honeymoon phase” dissipates, a lot of personal insecurities crawl up and you start noticing each other’s flaws. “Bok Love” plays around the idea of accepting one another despite the flaws, even finding one’s imperfections adorable.
Describe you Vispop 3.0 experience in three words.
Lourdes: Fun, inspiring and unforgettable.
Irving: Excited, malipayon ug mada-ugon.
John: Honestly, not so fulfilling kay wala ko naka attend physically, emotionally nalang gyud. But I’m happy and contented.
Therese: Hadlok, lipay, ug kaayo – for emphasis!
Angelo: Home, groundbreaking and revolution.
How important is writing Cebuano songs to you?
Lourdes: We have a beautiful language. A lot of people fail to appreciate it. Writing songs in Bisaya is my way of showing love and support and showing how proud I am to be a Bisaya. It is my way of empowering the Bisaya culture through my music.
Irving: Importante gyud kaayo. Sukad pag sulod nako sa music industry, when I joined (the singing group) Sakdap 20 years ago, mao gyud na ang amo tumong sa akong grupo, ang pag-promote sa Cebuano music.
John: It is really important. It’s also an effective outlet to promote our Visayan language sa pamaagi sa kanta.
Therese: It’s as important as keeping your friendship with your best friend. Writing songs in Bisaya led me to know myself better, not just as an artist, but it helped me realize my role in my community. This has reassured me that our talents can create change. We send our songs out there to call out the songs that are still kept in notebooks and the ones that have not yet been written. Writing in Bisaya has led me to hope for our Cebu. I’ve learned to dream right at home. Everyone is welcome here. Everyone here has a story to tell. Everyone listens.
Angelo: I remember back in grade school, we were encouraged to speak in English at all times, which meant speaking in Bisaya was a violation. I think Vispop challenges to change that. Using the Bisaya language is as valid as using English, among others, in expressing ideas. Vispop and writing in Cebuano is part of a cultural revolution, which promotes the preservation of our identity as Visayans. I’d love to see the day when society treats Bisaya with the same status as English, in academics, even in different professions.