#MusicBreakingBorders: PhilPop presents this year’s Songwriting Festival through a digital press conference


Origins of Music Breaking Borders

Most, if not all, of us, have been affected by the ongoing pandemic. The loss of jobs and opportunities limited, if not completely decimated, our sources of income. This ongoing crisis forced many of us to resort to creative ways in order to get our businesses in order. The music industry is no exception.

Now in its 8th year, PhilPop Music Festival 2020  is continuing its service in the promotion and appreciation of original Filipino Music. In the digital press conference it hosted earlier, members of the PhilPop boards, which includes Maestro Ryan Cayabyab and folk legend Noel Cabangon, Executive Director Dinah Remolacio and Warner Music Philippines representatives Ian Monsod and Kelley Mangahas,  answered questions on the ongoing event.

The digital press conference, hosted by Cara Eriguel, lasted approximately one-hour, in which the panelists tackled current and future plans for the Music Festival. Amidst the pandemic, there have been doubts on whether the event will push through. Noel Cabangon iterated the importance of moving forward with the music festival especially during this trying time, to give hope and inspiration, not just for Filipino songwriters, but to Filipinos in general. 


Armed with a new slogan, #MusicBreakingBorders, National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab explained the reasoning behind it.

Imagine if you use your natural language of expression. You are able to contribute more to the national music literature of the Philippines. So ang ibig sabihin nun’ mas nagiging unique yung tunog. Mas nagiging interesting yung tunog. Now that we are trying to, not that we are only doing it now we’ve been  doing it for the past few years convincing everybody to write in the language that they are comfortable with.

Noel Cabangon added,

Siguro to add, to democratize it more, the competition rather than na really concentrated sa NCR which yan na yung nangyayari noon pa. And we want to give that opportunity to the songwriters from the different regions na hindi lang nandito sa Metro Manila. So I think that’s the whole emphasis and essence of the music breaking borders. We want to break that barrier and we want to be more inclusive. We want representation from the different regions, diba there’s really beauty in diversity para makita kung gaano ka diverse ang kultura at musika ng Pilipinas at ng mga Pilipino.

Cayabyab and Cabangon emphasized the need to diversify the reach of Filipino Music, and to empower and encourage Filipino songwriters who are located in different regions other than the Metro. Mr. Cabangon also mentioned that people from provinces may feel that they are inferior to those living in the cities, so it is important to give them the proper platform and voice in order to have the confidence to try.

The challenges brought by the pandemic

When asked about the difference of this year’s iteration of PhilPop, Executive Director Dinah Remolacio has this to say:

The major difference of PhilPop is that we moved to clustering. We have semi-finals clustering. It’s not concentrated in Metro Manila as it was before. And at the same time because of the pandemic also and we recognize  the challenge in mobility, tinatanggap na po namin ngayon ang mga kanta na recorded by phone lamang. Dati po we require Mp4 and Mp3. Basically to adjust to the needs of the times right now..

The PhilPop Music Festival 2020 already started accepting entries on April 25, 2020 and will continue to accept until this Saturday, July 4, 2020. The five clusters mentioned along with the number of applicants are:

  1. Mindanao – 136
  2. Visayas – 142
  3. North Luzon – 150+
  4. South Luzon – 160
  5. Metro Manila – 300

These clusters separate the applicants in terms of residency, a testament to their promise to tighten regional ties and to diversify the competition that was predominantly Metro Manila-based. And although the highest number of applicants are still from Metro Manila, this is certainly an improvement compared to the previous years.

Diversifying the competition


For Mr. Cayabyab, people have a preconceived notion about songs in different dialects and he wants to break that idea. The Ramon Magsaysay Awardee urges Filipinos to open their minds and allow themselves to imagine. If most of you are head over heels when it comes to K-Pop and K-dramas, why don’t you give songs in local dialects a chance?

While the press con was ongoing, we are fortunate to have one of our questions be featured and answered on-air. The question was, “What are your ongoing or upcoming programs that will give a platform or a voice to aspiring singers and songwriters that are located in different parts of the country?” Ms. Dinah Remolacio answered confidently,

When we had major pivot in 2018 we considered that already. Kung napapansin niyo, the first thing that we did is to make the festival biennial, or every two years. And in between those years we mounted all the songwriting  workshops in different parts of the country to empower other songwriters in the region. Napansin na din kasi namin ‘yun in the past festival edition that most of the winners are coming from Manila and in fact another thing we adjusted in terms of guidelines is that the top 3 of all the festival editions are not allowed to join anymore. Also naging mentor sila nung lahat nung mga songwriting workshops that we’ve had for the empowerment naman nung mga regional songwriters so that we diversify the entries and hopefully we also diversify  the winning entries in every festival that’s not Manila centric.

The aforementioned boot camps take place in various parts of the country in hopes of honing the potential of Filipino musicians across the country. PhilPop boot camps have gone to Batangas, Pangasinan, and even as far as Davao. The first boot camp started in 2017, born out of a desire to give more aspiring Filipino artists an opportunity to realize their potential and to be known.

PhilPop bootcamp

Participants of these boot camps will get the chance to be mentored by pioneers of the industry– Ryan Cayabyab, Jim Paredes, and Noel Cabangon among others. They will also undergo workshops and training to develop and improve their singing and songwriting. It will be giving scholarship programs to 20 selected singer-songwriters per cluster. 

New partnership

Warner Music Philippines

Present in the digital press conference are two representatives, Ian Monsod and Kelley Mangahas from Warner Music Philippines, PhilPop’s new partner record label. When asked what made them decide to partner up with PhilPop, Ian Monsod replied casually,

That’s pretty easy. PhilPop is a very well regarded organization so when we were given the chance to partner with them of course we jumped on it. And we’re so glad that it worked out and it’s a fit because again they were trying to do and what we can do about breaking borders and elevating artists to the global stage and that’s, I think we share that ambition we share that value in Warner. So it’s a good fit and I think that’s why it worked out.

What do you think about the changes made in this year’s PhilPop?

Let us know your thoughts and opinions by sharing them through the comments below! Or just simply hit us up on our Facebook or Twitter accounts @udouph.