Ryan Cayabyab says the format of judging will be different for the 2013 Philippine Popular Music Festival


Maestro Ryan Cayabyab reveals big lessons learned from the Philippine Popular Music Festival. The executive director of Philpop also points out what aspiring songwriters can expect in the third edition of Philpop.

He says that with the influx of entries this year, 3,383 in total, they made even more adjustments, "part of the learning from last year, unti-unti namin na-realize na ganito dapat gawin," referring to the adjudication process of trimming down such a huge number to just 12 finalists.

He explains that there was more information management on the part of Philpop to adequately relay to the 140 adjudicators what each stage of deliberation needed and what was expected from them.

Mr. C shares, "malaking adjustment this year, so that people who want to join next year, isa lang ang kanilang aalahanin, na yung kanta nila mag-communicate sa mga tao at magkaroon ng effect sa kanila, na may appeal sa tao."

He explains a major difference in the judging process, "Di katulad last year, yung mga adjudicators binigyan ko pa sila ng factors to work on: 'Do you think this is a hit material? Do you think this will win?' As we discussed from last year, all part of learning and refining 'yan na wala naman nakakapag-alam kung sino ang mag-hi-hit na kanta, wala naman nakakapag-alam kung sino ang mananalong kanta so bakit natin ibuburden ang adjudicators na isipin nila sino mananalo, malay ba nila."

Mr. C says that for people who want to join Philpop for next year's competition, they should remember one thing: "ang importante lang, from beginning to end, five points: mataas, mababa, walang below one, yung five is personally the adjudicator likes the song or has a strong appeal on the adjudicator, and so on." According to Mr. C, the adjudicator in this case "must be independent enough to feel it, kasi di sila pwede mag-discuss, dapat may individual integrity, ang hinahanap natin yung totoong nararamdaman ng tao."

When the Top 12 were revealed at the end of April, Mr. C says, "ang nangyari yung pinakamean yun ang pumapasok, that is why may papasok na sobrang bigat na kanta na may laman, mayroon din naman papasok na sobrang magaan at sobrang novelty na nakakatawa lang," because that is what the adjudicators favored consistently through all four stages of deliberation.

"Yung top 33 ang isa sa pinaka-exciting na part, kasi this is where in the morning they will listen to the whole song and rate it individually and by the afternoon, papakinggan nila ulit and then the debate begins...lahat sila allowed to speak, for or against the song, what they think about the song, they are allowed to influence each other but they have to say why, defend nila at dito mo makikita na hindi talaga sila pare-pareho," reveals the celebrated musician-conductor-composer-arranger-pianist.

What also makes Philpop interesting is that anyone can submit an entry, even those who have already joined in the past. So even if they submit a rehashed entry, Mr. C says there is an automatic safeguard, "especially with YouTube, mayroon at mayroon makakadiscover nun, makikita, e," if a material has already been submitted. He adds, "there is also no rule prohibiting a winner to join again, anyone can join and ang nakita ko na pinakamaganda dito, malaki ang value for the non-names na songwriters to make it to the Top 12 kasi ang feeling nila, wow natalo ko si..."

He also says Philpop's adjudication process is fair, as the adjudicators do not see who wrote an entry. Even with the entry of known names like Joey Ayala and Jungee Marcelo in this year's Top 12, Mr. C admits, "madami pang mas may pangalan sa kanila, I'm sorry to say ha, pero di nakapasok, pangalan kung pangalan, I believe there were bigger names," but of course, he can't reveal who they were.

Fame and experience can actually be a detriment here, as Mr. C explains, "sa totoo lang, maraming professionals na magagaling, pero di nila matatalo yung mga bagong bata kasi iba na yung the way people write. The reason why some of the professionals still made it kasi kuha pa rin nila yun, nakakasabay sila."

With the 12 that were chosen from out of 3,383 entries, Mr. C shares how he feels about it, "I'm happy kasi it's high time na nakakadiscover tayo ng bago."

Although he admits, "mayroon mga hindi nakapasok na gusto ko." He refrains from citing any current favorites because, "usually yung choices ko, hindi nanalo, e, may kamandag, e, lagi nangyayari yun kapag sinabi ko eto favorite ko, kaya ayoko na muna sabihin."

The finals night will be on July 6, 2013 and Mr. C says, "this year excited ako, kasi di na yung judges na katulad last year, iibahin yung format ng competition and iibahin namin yung composition ng judges."


Right now, the finals night is still being discussed and finalized on how it will come out, and Mr. C remarks, "ayoko sabihin na nag-revolutionize kami, nag-evolutionize nalang, gusto ko sana ma-involve sana yung live TV audience, pero since hindi pa refined yung process, excited ako doon sa pwedeng mangyari. Kakaiba, e."

Song interpretations will be handled by the record label Universal Records and the production crew of the finals night. Mr. C explains the reason behind this. "Kailangan bumenta yung CD nila, and since UR, they know how they would like to sell it. They would like to package it, nahikayatin nila yung mga tao to come in and get it. And also sa radyo, gusto nila patugtugin yung kanta na pwede mapatugtog sa radyo."

Because of the new partnership with Universal Records, Mr. C hopes that the formidable stable of singers signed under the label will be considered for the Philpop album and song interpretations, "may clout sila, pwede pa nila kausapin yung ibang recording companies na makipag-deal. Alam na natin kung saan papunta eto, magandang competition, pagalingan na, pagandahan na ulit. Ang focus mapupunta na ngayon sa Filipino music."

Last year's song interpreters include: crooner Mark Bautista, group The Akafellas, Youtube singer MariƩ Digby, popstar tandem Jay R and Deejay Poblete, former South Border front men Duncan Ramos and Luke Mijares, hip hop artists Loonie and Yumi, modern-ethnic pop icon Joey Ayala, R&B singer Nyoy Volante, alternative rock band Rocksteddy, new singer Daniel Grospe, former Metropop finalist Mike Villegas, up and coming artist Cathy Go, OPM icon Gary Granada, and all-girl trio Baihana.

It's exciting to see who will become this year's interpreters and Mr. C believes, "malaki, critical yung effect ng singer, na hindi ko sabihin mahusay lang, dapat tama yung singer doon sa kanta, di ko ipipilit somebody like Lea [Salonga] sa isang song para lang mapili si Lea for this song. Hindi tama, e, dapat believable or swak yung letra or melodya doon sa kumakanta, kasi alam natin na yung kanta, kapag yung kumakanta parang siya yung gumawa noon, siya yung nag-eexpress ng kanta, parang siya yung nag-kwento eh, kapag di tama yung pag-deliver, parang kulang yung communication. Song is a form of communication na deeper."

He gives another example, "kunwari, kinanta ng isang batang singer yung 'Tukso Layuan Mo Ako,' let's say kakantahin yan ng isang Julie Ann San Jose, parang di yata akma. So yung lyrics, yung melody, yung arrangement, kailangan bagay doon sa interpreter."

Mr. C cannot stress the importance of Philpop to the Philippine music scene, "siya yung panlaban natin sa puro cover ng ibang kanta, yung influx ng K-Pop, J-Pop, this is one of them, we have to exert an effort." He continues that without sponsors, the non-partisan Philpop Foundation cannot pursue its advocacy of uplifting Philippine music by putting the spotlight on songwriters, and encouraging Filipinos to preserve our musical identity, "thankful ako sa mga naglalagay ng pera dito, kasi naniniwala sila sa advocacy ng Original Pilipino Music."

Mr. C is also giving credit to the Philpop 2012 finalists being part of the songwriting with the Maestro tour for the increase in entries. In fact, he reveals that "isa sa mga finalist this year, nag-attend siya ng Songwriting with the Maestro, sabi ko, 'Did it help you?' Sabi niya, it did."

The celebrated Maestro strongly believes in the power of collaboration among artists. "It helped that we went around also and that we were looking, but I'll tell you what for me, it was the finalists from last year, sila yung nagbigay ng additional sparkle, ang lakas ng dating nila sa batang audience, ako ang dating ko, lolo, matanda. Kapag sa open forum sila yung maraming naniniwala sa kanila kasi nakapasok sila, mga bata sila. Nagtutulungan sila how to make their song better. It's better really to collaborate because sometimes other people have ideas that can help."



ON REGINE VELASQUEZ. Even though the topic of discussion was Philpop, the name of Regine Velasquez-Alcasic came up. The Maestro shared his thoughts on what makes the Songbird stand out in the music scene.


"Si Regine, hindi na siya bumibirit, kasi na ano na niya yung technique na parang tunog birit pero hindi birit so akala niyo na sinisigaw pa niya hindi, e, si Regine nakuha na niya yung technique na parang tunog birit pero actually nakapartition na yung boses niya."

Mr. C's advice to singers of all ages and stature is universal, "Unang-una hindi natin sinasabi na tumigil muna sila kasi trabaho yun, hanapbuhay, sila dapat ang mag-pace ng sarili nila. Magpahinga sila kung dapat magpahinga, dahil yung instrumento nila yung boses nila, yun hanapbuhay nila eh. So kailangan nila na i-pace ang sarili nila or mag-training or leksyon, para lang alam nila kung papaano, kasi sa mga concert, mayroon parts na alam nila yung kung saan bababa, yung hihinay para bawi-bawi-bawi, tapos tulak-tulak-tulak, alam nila dapat paano gawin yung bawi at tulak."

For Regine, specifically, Mr. C believes she will be able to deal with her acid reflux.

"Ako, I'm very optimistic with Regine, kasi alam niya yun, e, saka alam niya hanapbuhay niya yun, e. Yun ang puhunan, life, puhunan niya yun so alam ko ang gagawin niya, magpapahinga yan, at siguro kung okay na yan, the Songbird will be back."

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