Singer-songwriter Yeng Constantino recalls being warned by OPM legend and APO Hiking Society founding member Jim Paredes about the risk in constantly monitoring critics' reviews and entertainment write-ups.
Jim advised her not to keep reading articles written about her, particularly album reviews, so as not to affect her self-esteem. Being veteran artist who had his share of career ups and downs, Jim knew by heart how criticisms could possibly curtail an artist's creativity.
And that's exactly what happened to Yeng following the release of her second album Journey in 2008. Though the album would achieve gold record status, some of the reviews posted by critics rattled the young songwriter's confidence.
"May nabasa akong write-up saying na parang pareho-pareho lang ang mga sinusulat kong kanta—lahat ng melody, combination ng chords. Seventeen years old ka lang e, 'yong heart mo sobrang sensitive. So ako, 'Ay hindi naman pala ko magaling,' tapos feeling ko 'Dapat ba nanalo ako [sa Pinoy Dream Academy]?
"Pero ngayon clear sa akin na hindi naman sa dapat hindi ako makinig. Maganda salain 'yong pinapakinggan, 'yong magandang kritisismo, pero hindi 'yong dina-down ka. 'Pag dina-down ka, iba na 'yon."
WRITING FROM HER HEART. Yeng's "writer's block" stretched on for months. It was an alarming predicament for the composer who vowed to write original materials instead of settling for covers and songs penned by outside sources. To her credit, Yeng has proven her ability to write good songs, as in her past hits, "Hawak Kamay" and "Salamat."
Ex-Beatle John Lennon once said that crafting tunes should never be a forced issue on the part of the songwriter. To create something beautiful, one must simply "let go" to allow the inspiration, words and melody to flow naturally.
Yeng did listen to her heart and she started writing again, more for herself rather than to please the critics and listeners.
"Kailangan kong mag-decide kung magsti-stay ba kong discouraged... At least nakawala ako, nag-decide lang ako. Ayokong mag-sound holy pero 'yon yung totoo talagang sabi ko 'God, 'ayokong tingnan ang sarili ko kung papaano ako nakikita ng mga tao pero kung paano Mo ako nakita. Ginawa Mo akong songwriter e, hindi ako puwedeng tumigil dito.' So 'yon, nag-decide ako to write again."
While regaining her drive and confidence, Yeng still needed help to shape the new materials more solidly into a single body of work. Ex-Eraserheads and now Sandwich vocalist Raimund Marasigan was called to assist and guide Yeng in arranging the tunes inside the studio.
Born in 1988, Yeng was too young to appreciate the commercial success of the Eraserheads back in the early '90s. Yeng's fascination with rock n' roll years later eventually led her to discover the music of the legendary Filipino band.
"Nung nagda-drums pa siya sa Eraserheads hindi ko pa po time 'yon, e, hindi pa 'ko mahilig sa alternative music, favorite ko pa nun si Mandy Moore. Pero nung high school days ko diyan na po nag-start 'yong hilig ko sa OPM."
Yeng described Raimund's style as laid back and encouraging: "Actually, hindi siya nag-edit ng any lyrics sa songs ko. Iba siya mag-trabaho, ang gagawin niya, upo lang siya tapos papakantahin niya ko. Pag may hindi niya nagustuhan sasabihin niya 'Yeng hindi ko na-feel. Parang hindi ka kumanta from the heart. Kumanta ka from the heart' sinasabi niya."
The collaboration produced Lapit, Yeng's third album under Star Records, composed of all-original materials penned by the PDA alumna herself.
With her new album, Yeng's penchant for writing catchy pop tunes is once again highlighted in the songs "Wag Kang Magtatanong," "Jeepney Love Story," "'Pag Ayaw Mo Na," "Siguro," "Takas," "Maghihintay," and the carrier single, "Lapit."