OPM is alive!

Katrina Stuart Santiago

Gusto kong sabihin ng simpleng-simple kung papaanong buhay ang OPM. Ang original Pinoy music, ang musikerong Pinoy, ang tugtugang Pinoy. Gusto kong ihagis lang, maglista ng mga pangalan ng mga musikerong patuloy na nagsusulat ng mga kantang original, mula kay Cynthia Alexander hanggang kay KC Concepcion, mula kay Barbie Almalbis hanggang kay Kitchie Nadal. Gusto kong basta ilista ang mga bandang gumagawa ng original na kanta, mga musikerong nag-gi-gig mula 70’s Bistro at Conspiracy sa Quezon City hanggang sa 19 East sa Las Pinas, umiikot sa mga probinsya para mag-promote ng CD, nagma-mall-show, nagtiya-tiyaga sa kakarampot na panahong nabibigay sa kanila ng iilang TV show, nagtiya-tiyagang kumanta kasama ang mga non-singers pero big stars ng bawat panahon. Gusto kong sabihin lang na kapag nakikinig ako ng radyo napapatigil ako sa boses ni Eric Santos, at memorized ko ang album ni Cathy Go, at gustong-gusto ko ang Q-York, at kanina lang may nag-revive na pala ng “Kay Palad Mo” na mabilis kong na-recognize bilang original na kinanta ni Lilet nung bata pa ‘ko.

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  1. manuelbuencamino

    Katrina (by way of Angela),

    Sometimes I watch shows like Voices from Africa on CNN or BCC, I think. I’ve also seen programs in other channels and videos that feature music from other parts of the world like India, Middle East, Caribbean, Latin America, etc. I’m not talking about bands or solo artists playing ethnic music. I mean musicians playing original compositions in rock, rap, soul, jazz, blues, ballads, etc. They do not sound “American” or “western”. You can hear where they come from in their interpretation of what I would generally label as American or western musical genres. Nagiging kanila at nadadagdagan pa. For example, Paul Simon’s album with Africans. Magandang fusion ng musical cultures.

    But even in disco house music, from India or the Middle East, the beat you hear is distinctly their own. You can’t miss it, nangangamoy bumbay o arabo. Now there’s a couple of bands here, like Grace Nono’s or Ayala’s, they are original and Pinoy but they are more ethnic than what I hear described as OPM.

    So I guess what I’m saying is I don’t know whether OPM is dead or alive. I don’t know if OPM has been born yet.

    I’ve listened to a lot of music composed and performed by Filipinos but I don’t sense a distinctive Filipino feel about it, not in the beat, modal scale, or instrumentation. So my question is, where is the Filipino in OPM?

    Do we call it OPM just because they are composed by Filipinos? If so then what about apl d ap’s compositions for Black Eyed Peas or the 70’s hit “Suavito” by Malo which was co-written by Abel Zarate a Filipino who grew up in the Mission District in San Francisco, do their songs qualify as OPM?

    Or do songs have to be composed by local artists? And is that the criteria for calling it OPM? Di ba dapat tulad ng spaghetti maging matamis muna bago masabi natin na Pilipino food na nga siya?

    I’m not arguing. I’m not a musical expert or anything close to it. I’m just asking. I’ve never understood what people mean by OPM.

    What am I missing here? Am I focusing on the wrong things? Do I need to focus more on the lyrics than the music?

    Kasi, like I said earlier, iba ang beat at modal scales sa africa, middle east, india, pati na rin sa mga ibang bansa sa asia. Sa Latin America at Caribbean parang pareho ang musical scales nila sa atin pero ang rhythm or beat nila is very distinctive. Makikilala mo kaagad.

    Anyway, yun lang, ano ba talaga yang OPM na pinagdedebatihan na pati class war at government intervention ay pumasok na sa usapan?

  2. Hello po!

    I used to think this was a post-EDSA or tail-end of Martial Law thing, when i imagine original Pilipino music was a way of re-asserting identity post-Marcos, kasali sa celebratory narratives in culture when Cory came to power. Someone told me on FB na Jim Paredes said raw na si Danny Javier ang nag-coin ng OPM. I don’t know how true that is. Pero sige. :)

    I don’t know that it was ever about a particular sound, you’re right. Though I listen to the music of Cynthia Alexander, and see her perform live, and I do tend to think that that is distinct with its use of indigenous instruments, but that might just be equal to how Grace Nono sounds nga.

    And maybe it is still in process. Maybe ito na muna ito. OPM as label for anything that’s produced locally, because we do not call Charice OPM with that album in the States, even less so Apl. There’s a rap duo for example called Q-York, which stands for queens new york (naks), who were producing music in that space for the longest time. They came home, decided to stay here, produced an album in Manila, and call themselves OPM. :)

    Also, I think composition, yes, but re-composition too given revivals and how in the hands of a talented musician, that CAN mean a new song altogether. :)