Fairly local

By: Meilinda Marie Malacat
December 15, 2019

“How are we going to bring OPM on to the international scale if our own country is not playing their own music? When we’re idolizing other people’s music? I think we should play more OPM music on the radio. Monday to Sunday, 24 hours on the clock. I swear, if radio stations don’t do this by tomorrow, IDK’s gonna be my last single, I quit music.”

Those are the exact lines of the Australia-born singer-actress, Karen Ann Cabrera, popularly known as ‘Karencitta’. After posting a video of her interview on Instagram from a radio show, many netizens have aired out mixed reactions towards her statement.

While many agree with her testimony, there’s also the flip side of the coin. Just as upon reading it, I couldn’t help but feel a slight dose of infuriation. First of all, who even is she? Aside from her hit ‘Cebuana’, what entitles her as queen over Original Pinoy Music or OPM and thinks she can halt its culture by her mere departure?

Looking at the bigger picture, what’s even more exasperating is her false idea of the local music scene these days. Claiming that Filipinos today do not patronize our own craft is a fallacy at cost.

I, myself, have witnessed firsthand how local music have bloomed throughout the years—from small-scale venues such as Social House, B-Side, and Dulo to music festivals like Fête de la Musique, Madfest, and Wanderland. Crowds swarm all these events to enjoy both classic and contemporary music that vary in genre.

As a matter of fact, what once was an “indie” hobby became somehow mainstream. Back then, gigs are a bit unappreciated, but every now and then, it’s always a full house in every venue available. Sounds that used to be streamed solely on YouTube or Soundcloud have made their way to Spotify, iTunes, and even on the television. Contrary to Karencitta’s views, radio stations have been non-stop with songs even people who used to ignore OPM love now.

Who has not memorized IV of Spades’ ‘Mundo’? Or who has not sung along to ‘Buwan” by Juan Karlos? Who has not heard of Moira dela Torre, December Ave., and Ben&Ben? Who has stopped listening to Eraserheads, Parokya Ni Edgar, and Orange & Lemons? Who has not jammed to Because, Al James, and Just Hush? There’s too much to name a few.

Though the intention was good, streaming local music for 24 hours is seemingly impossible. If truth be told, it’s not against the rules to adore foreign artists and their music, but at the same time, we cannot completely disregard our own. It ain’t that bad to give our local scene a spin, to attend gigs, and to be part of a bursting community of local music.

We have to stop with the notion that OPM is forgotten. Despite the rise of K-pop and other Asian acts, we cannot simply deny the impact of Filipino music not just in our country but in other parts of the world. Consequently, as we gauge the level of interactions and plays, there’s also a deep sense of appreciation that should come with it.

There’s just more to the world than radio waves.

(First published on The LANCE's October 2019 Issue)