I shall start this article with a disclaimer. I am going to write opinion in first person point of view, plural form and in (very) layman’s terms. This is because the insights that are going to be penned here are mostly shared by me and Floyd. We are not critiques, songwriters, or composers so there would be no technicalities and BIG words. We may have published very few poems and articles in the local daily years ago. We have written very few songs (or attempting?) as well but these do not make us write this. Instead, we write this because we are lovers of words, music, and art. We are avid listeners of the VisPop finalists since its first installment. We were probably one of the most excited people upon hearing about the project. Possibly, the only valid credentials we have for writing this is we have been playing VisPop 1 and 2 songs almost every day for the past two years (during bus rides, boat rides, and then short and long drives) and built relationships with them. Haha! We love VisPop so much that it is worthy that we spend much thought in coming up with our very own reviews. VisPop 3 is fast approaching so we hope this is timely.
Now, I am too lazy to post the songs one by one, so please refer to the links at the bottom of the article.
Love at first sound. The moment we first heard Duyog, we were hooked. We hear Visayan rock or Visayan ballads a lot of times but alternative is not very much a genre explored by the Bisaya. I know we weren’t just being sensationalist because when we shared the song to “unbelievers” of local music, they loved the musical arrangement and they fell in love with the words. It was a winner, no doubt. And yes, it did win.
We would like to say, however, that the only thing we wished about this song is a clearer voice or point of view. The lyrics are generic “Ikaw ang bahandi, dugay ko nang gihandom. Ikaw ang bituon, sa ngitngit kong baybayon…”. If I am a person being wooed with these words, I wouldn’t be impressed simply because it was not specific to me. I could tell that person, how many people have you sung this song to? In poetry, we learned that for it to be effective, it has to have an identifiable voice. The good thing is, this one’s a song so it can get away for that reason. Truth be told, we like this as a wedding song too.
Papictura ko, Gwapo
Our favorite. Floyd and I share the same favorite in the batch and it is this song. We believe until today that this should have placed! Floyd just recently discovered Jack Johnson (yes, fyi) and he also enjoys the wordplay of Jason Mraz. We love this song because of that – the wordplay, its unique sound of making awkward not awkward eventually. It is very challenging to sing along to, it’s almost like a maze. That is an advantage because we wouldn’t stop until we perfected “Pero mura’g gamay pa ang imong igo nako, atik ra dako-dako na man pud diay ni ‘Bay”. That was just one. We would laugh every time we miss the syllable on the note. More importantly, we love this because it was timely and it sounded real. You know somewhere out there, this situation exists and the song uses words and elements so familiar, you can be that person singing the song. At one time, Floyd said it was a statement of a modern woman, it was feminist. But that’s another story.
The truth is we could not say much about this song. It could be that we are big fans of melodrama no longer. And while the melody did sound sad or lonely, it could not affect us. One reason that we figured was we did not know all along that it was really about Grandma had it not been mentioned in the song. Floyd would say, “no manifestations”. To be fair, there was a time I would play this to get my nephews and nieces to sleep and I guess, this was the role of this song in the first place.
Balay ni Mayang
While this song is not most dear to us, we like to sing along to this anyway. This song is like a friend you can get along with in a snap. It is easy to remember that even my officemate’s 3-year old son got to learn the song. I guess it has the charm the masses could not resist. Plus, it is timely in the sense that songs accompanied by ukulele are the trend. Well, it’s cute really. Although big boys think otherwise…naughty them.
The piece is easy to the ears. It is feel-good and shy at the same time with its slow-paced melody and timid voice of the singer. That is probably one of the most commendable thing about Hinaut, it sounded honest from start to finish. This could also probably explain why the song did sound monotonic and there was no victory at the end. It did not jump to higher notes, no grand bridge that would tell us the man was willing to get out from his shell and finally tell the girl he loves her. After all, he was only hoping. A sad ending for a loverboy. I feel for you, man.
This is also another song that in this batch that we look up to. It is difficult to pull off a jazzy song, more so in Bisaya. Jazzy Cebuano songs may exist but not to many ordinary people like us. So this is a revolution, a breakthrough. No wonder it bagged the Fighter Award. Payter, it is! We hope to hear brave songs like this!
So, in conclusion, VisPop 1 was outstanding. It opened up the doors to Visayan music and its diversities. Diversities because although the women singers have the tendency to sound alike, the genres and the messages differ from one another. They represent different people musicians and non-musicians. We have this notion that Cebuanos are elitist or maybe hard to please, and it is good to know that we are trying to touch the ground and feel our roots.
VisPop 2 Reviews to follow…
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