I salute both Vice Ganda and Willie Revillame for enjoining their participants to better sing Filipino songs in their respective shows in deference to our original Pilipino music, or OPM. We are undoubtedly a musically talented nation. What we lack in Olympic sports, we put in musical endowments. Unfortunately, we do not exploit our talents to our cultural advantage. Instead, we train, expect and judge them as to who can be the best trying hard, second-rate copycats (“monkeys” to Freddie Aguilar) that propagate and popularize English songs and singers. Even our talent judges are no exceptions. Observe the demeanor and language of each judge on TV talent/singing contests, and you’d feel like you’re watching American Idol. Thanks to these copycats, the names of Celine Dion, Kathy Perry, Taylor Swift, Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, and Justin Bieber have become part of our daily vocabulary.
The Beatles rocked the world in English. Julio Iglesias sings best when he croons the romantic songs of Spain. The Mexicans have popularized their Mariachi music, Puerto Ricans the Salsa, the Brazilians the Samba, and the Argentineans the Tango. An Italian, Anthony Dominick Benedetto, though he later named himself Tony Bennett, conquered America but went on to sing the songs of his country. Remember “Arrivederci Roma,” “Come Prima,” and “Non di Menticar”?
On the other hand, Filipinos, like our talented Charice Pempengco, have only made themselves wealthy, famous and successful by becoming white Americans. The world knows only the name Charice as the young singing sensation, period, but hardly the Philippines, her native land. Ok, we can write and speak English. After all, it’s our second language, but for God’s sake, must we also sing in English? Whatever happened to our songs in Tagalog, Visayan, Ilocano, or Kapampangan? They were all robbed, rather rapped.
Tourists visiting the country must be surprised and bored to hear only their own songs and music, not OPM. They travel from a distance to experience us, our culture, our music. Let us not bore them with their own.
I urge our authorities to calendar an OPM week for the celebration and propagation of Pinoy music like kundiman, ballad, even if we rock or lullaby it in our own language, dialect and idiosyncrasies—as long as it is Pinoy in thought and lyrics. Government should require radio stations, malls, concert venues, hotels, even elevators to play and/or sing only OPM music—at least for one whole week to allow their tunes, lyrics and melody to sink into our young so they will learn to appreciate and love what their own music is. They are Filipinos, after all.
—POMPEYO S. PEDROCHE,