Sunday, a typical day for people to rest, a day for families to spend time, an ordinary day for every religious lolos and lolas to renew their faith, common day for every ‘cooks’ to get their weekly dose of mid morning cooking shows, surely, a normal day for those die hard Jake Cuenca-Melissa Ricks fans to get a glimpse of their seemingly sweet, heartfelt, effortless lip-synching number on ASAP. Yes, this is what you get on a plain Sunday. Except for this one unforgettable Sunday of November 7th, 2010. Not this one. It was a Sunday for every decibel freaks who glued their ears and radio frequency to the far right side of the dial. For every self proclaimed and devoted rock afficionado, this is an important day in history, this is “the day our Music died”.
A funny thing happened while thinking of what to write for this entry. Juan Dela Cruz’s Ang Himig Natin was playing on my iPod, one of those farewell songs played on NU during its Last Goodbye stretch. As the song fades, a small voice like that of an eight year-old echoed inside the FX. Then, it goes louder. And louder. And louder until it came clear to my senses. “WIN RADIO! WIN RADIO!”. Ahhhh, IRONY, what a way to start my day. And then, it hit me, as vivid flashbacks of that very day NU bid goodbye to its legion of fans, savoring every note of Eraserheads’ Ang Huling El Bimbo. A striking thought. “Masa indeed killed the Rockstar”. Or maybe not.
So, after a year, what happens next? Since the closure of NU, it seemed that the air time for OPM has decreased to a rough 40%. And I’m not just talking about rock music, but OPM in general. It seems inevitable, the future of music here in The Philippines already lies at the hands of the MASA revolution. Where infectious fake laughter and ancient jokes are the perfect antidote for a society that is poisoned by broken promises and false hopes. We can’t blame the “panggas” and the “Ka-barangays” if they choose to get their minute by minute fix of “tot-tot-tot’s” and “Hi Pangga” over Ely Buendia and Sonic Youth. Neither the radio stations, whom by day and night, play a string of hits starting from Reo Speedwagon down to Bette Midler for every Cobra dependent late night drivers and security guards. What can I say, it is the least a radio station could do to mend the struggles of a simple Juan’s everyday life.
My only complaint? aside from giving you the worst case of LSS from the station’s jingle, come on, do you really have to invade every frequency on the radio dial? If my math serves me right, 9 out 27 active frequencies on your radio are the same MASA themed stations, which gives you a sweet 35% chance of catching a “MEH GANON”-esque style of radio commentary. Alongside, the immense popularity of the lyrically challenging K-POP mania, To be clear, it’s not the jokes and the all time favorite videoke playlist that bothers me. It is the OPM industry that I am worried about. The way I see it, it’s no longer a far fetched thought that OPM could possibly lose its essence, in a way that musicians will settle for a good David Pomeranz cover instead of writing new materials, out of fear of not being able to market themselves.
Is it really about the money? From my perspective, the sad truthful answer is YES. This is a common thing in Philippine entertainment. In an industry where acting skills are no longer a major pre-requisite. As long as you get to be a part of a reality show and your looks can make a swarm of 14-year old screaming kids pee their pants, you can be already considered as a Bankable actor/actress. Relatively, recording companies don’t give a shit anymore if the artistry when it comes to music is being compromised, just do a Lady Gaga acoustic cover, you’re good to go. What they don’t see is, if those recording artists who virtually cover every song in your old-maid aunt’s Multiplex collection can be bankable, why can’t those underrated musicians with exceptional talents who sow their own seeds out of sheer passion for the music? If half of the population thinks Willie can sing (which is clearly not the case), or Manny Pacquiao can get a recording deal overseas, how about Noel Cabangon or Dong Abay, or APO Hiking Society? Heck, even a recording company can easily place their bet on Anne Curtis instead of getting a straight up deal with the likes of Cooky Chua and Cynthia Alexander. Granted, Anne is oh, so hot… But still! Heaven forbid, I will put my love for music to rest and exile myself to some remote area for soul searching if Manny Pacquiao gets a shot of doing a Barry Manillow double CD tribute album.
Which brings me to another remarkable question/reaction I’ve read here on Tumblr, asked by musician, Shinji Manlangit;
“I mean, why can’t these fuckers write songs?… I mean, it’s that easy. Oh, but who gives a shit about writing songs when doing an acoustic cover of a Justin Bieber song is a guaranteed sell. And you bitches say that OPM is dying.”
True enough. Which is why I sincerely hope the future army of musicians, enthusiasts and advocates would pick up and continue where NU has left off as far as Pinoy music and talent is concern. Much appreciation to those who still pursue to promote our music by any means possible, from gigs/events to a simple gesture of those radio stations/webcasts to allot at least an hour of their air time for an all Pinoy segment.
It’s been a year since NU107 closed its doors to every hormonal kid who pictured himself kissing and romancing Dylan and Jaedee to the tune of Siakol’s Lakas Tama, to those musician who aspired to play at the Rock Awards. To every devoted rockjocks who became our weekly slaves just to play the music we loved the best. NU may have lost its battle to the MASA power, However,it doesn’t suggest that the MASA stations killed our choice of music. It’s just that artists nowadays may still need a little time to realize what they can do more other than using someone else’s song. Or maybe the simple Juan’s are not yet ready to explore other forms of music outside Air Supply and April Boy Regino.
365 1/4 days without NU, I can still remember every word on their top of the hour spiel by heart. For me, it is still far more contagious than those of Mr. Foo’s. MEH GANUN?