If you were to switch on the radio, what song would you likely hear? If you scoured top charts of pop stations, which songs would you likely see dominate?
Realistically, Filipino compositions are still minority in the Philippine airwaves. On Spotify, despite the presence of Original Pilipino Music (OPM) playlists, these remain outnumbered by playlists showcasing foreign songs.
As of this writing, the same commercial music streaming service’s “Top 50 Chart for Philippines” signifies OPM with a poor showing of no more than three entries (an embarrassing 6%) in the list: Daryl Ong’s “Stay” on 24th place, “Tadhana” by Up Dharma Down on 39th, and Juris’ version of “Your Love” on 44th.
This predicament resonated with four friends of various backgrounds (actor and recording artist, Poppert Bernadas; corporate trainer and foodie, Sanchus Brian Bernaldo; host and wedding singer, Myda Cunanan; and PR professional / thespian, Amiel Mendoza), who felt the call to respond.
They put together P4 to produce FilipiNotes, an open mic event aimed at expanding the OPM experience. Pinoy compositions are given one more avenue to reach out to lovers of the craft. FilipiNotes would be a time to sing, celebrate and bask in music that tug at the heartstrings.
“Since it was at an open mic event where we all met for the first time, we wanted to organize our own,” Myda Cunanan said. The group, however, hoped to deliver a distinct open mic event.
“There are many themed open mic events such as top 40, acoustic, and Broadway but we noticed that there is nothing that is exclusively OPM, and we saw that there’s a gap that needed to be filled,” Sanchus Brian Bernaldo stated.
Simply, the best musical genre that expresses what being truly Filipino means and how Filipinos tackle life is OPM. “If we are going to do this, we might as well make the event meaningful,” Amiel Mendoza shared. “Let’s give it a noble purpose and make it our advocacy”.
FilipiNotes was thus born. P4 partnered with the Organisasyon Ng Mga Pilipinong Mang-aawit, who shares this passion and vision for the local music industry, to effect a wider reach with the general public.
In April, the first ever FilipiNotes witnessed a gathering of singers, composers, musical theater actors, aspiring musicians, other OPM lovers and supporters from various areas of the metro. They all squeezed inside the reserved venue, which was humbly planned for a seating capacity of 50. Some shared tables with strangers, some willingly stood, while many opted to sit on the floor to make room for much more than the expected number of attendees.
P4 found the overwhelming turnout unexpected. A happier surprise, however, had been the audience, who gamely sang with whomever had the mic and the live accompaniment of a seasoned pianist. As the evening progressed, nostalgia and wishes for renewed spotlight on OPM pervaded.
Poppert Bernadas admitted he wasn’t entirely surprised. “I’ve sung many types of songs but nothing beats OPM in piercing the depths of your soul.” Similar to the rest of the group, he found immense joy in witnessing its contagious effect on people. “We wish a lot more can experience this and also upsize their appreciation of OPM,” he added.
On July 26 at 8:00 PM, FilipiNotes will celebrate Linggo ng Musikang Pilipino with an even bigger and better OPM Open Mic made possible by 12 Monkeys Music Hall & Pub, FILSCAP, NCCA, together with media partners, Manila Bulletin, Manila Times, 97.9 Home Radio, and Wish FM 107.5.
With more seats, two pianists, and a bigger stage upon which renowned local artists regularly perform, this event opens an opportunity to everyone to increase the OPM fanbase.
Artists who want to try OPM materials, aspiring singers, performers who love live accompaniment, groups of friends looking for a different night out, and lovers of Original Pilipino Music; can come and experience “FilipiNotes: UPSIZED” for a door charge of P300.
With event proceeds, the group can only continue to open the stage to OPM enthusiasts. A long term goal is to give back to institutions and promising individuals, who need help to continue their love of the arts and OPM.
As a caveat: the organizers, who cleverly made the slogan “Huwag Maliitin ang Notang Pinoy,” do not intend to make OPM the only music choice. They only hope to encourage listeners to try on the hat of an OPM lover, which is always more enjoyable by a bigger size or two.