Filipino music has never been more alive as it is in the present day, with its impact and reach going beyond the confines of our nation’s borders. With a number of our homegrown artists going as far as the top of the global charts, or winning international awards and acclaim from a worldwide audience — there is just so much to celebrate with regard to the current state of original Filipino music. 

While the artists play a significant role in the widespread recognition of Filipino music and its artistry, one can look at the key players who stay behind the scenes when it comes to these scenarios. These are our industry leaders, who are equipped with the necessary foresight, intuition, and unique perspective at analyzing the patterns of the music scene to determine what’s up next, and who can be the next big thing.

Roxy Liquigan

Roxy Liquigan photographed by Kim Angela Santos

At the Billboard Philippines launch event, we got the opportunity to talk to some of the biggest names in both the local and global music industry. From from the figureheads of Spotify Singapore to Live Nation’s own Rhiza Pascua, we got to discuss what they’ve appreciated about OPM in the past & present, along with what future they can envision for the state of Filipino music in the years ahead

To Otep Tumambing of Offshore Music, an integral aspect of what makes Filipino music so special over the years is its authenticity. “I really think the quality and authenticity of our artists, even if influenced by foreign acts, allows for Filipino artists to fully display their nationalistic nature in their songs.” Jigger Devina, founder of Locked Down Entertainment, echoes the same sentiments adding “For me, it’s the originality and truthfulness that I love most about Filipino music. When you hear songs with those traits, it’s as if it comes from somewhere else — somewhere special.”

Jonathan Manalo

Jonathan Manalo photographed by Kim Angela Santos

If anyone’s wondering where that special place comes from, Jonathan Manalo and Roxy Liquigan of Star Music share their own take on its origin. “It’s the heart of Filipinos [for sure]. Filipinos get to express themselves so well when it comes to matters of the heart, which is why we love the soul that is put into Filipino music.” This enthusiasm is shared by Kean Cipriano of O/C Records, who complements Filipino music’s special flair. “Mahirap iexplain [It’s tough to explain], because I just love great music, great talents, the songwriting, and everything about it. It’s just magical.”

Such talent and skill is not something that merely comes overnight, according to Mike Van, President of Billboard USA, its origins come from the rich culture of the Filipino people. “ [While] I love the skill first and foremost that comes from Filipino artists, I love the rich culture, history, and heritage that Filipino music and artists have.” Van adds “Lastly, I love the inventiveness and the originality that comes from Filipino artists.” 

Mike Van

Mike Van photographed by Kim Angela Santon

Sharing more insight, Kelly Mangahas of Warner Music tells us “I just love the diversity of music now, like there’s so many different types of music. From what you hear traditionally to the forward-thinking and independent types, so many genres, and great artists right now that are coming up with music that is totally different right now. I love how everything is coming together right now and there are artists shining at different spots.”

But amidst all these things that are loved about Filipino music, there’s no better time than now to see it grow and expand even further. Fijar Ramadhan, Head of SEA Music for TikTok, shares his excitement at the many possibilities of OPM on the platform. “We really want to hear and champion the local music — especially in SEA. We really want to bring more success stories from TikTok like a musician growing from the small screen to become a bigger star through our platform” he shares.

To Ramadhan, there are already Filipino musicans dominating the social media platform that he’d like to see on the global stage. “I’m excited to see how big SB19 goes in the near future. I also think a lot of the local artists like Juan Karlos can get bigger right now and take the world by storm!” he adds. 

Contributing to the suggestion pool, Tumambing shares his fondness for Gabba and ena mori, citing the latter’s potential as a rising pop phenomenon as a means of killing it abroad. “There’s so much more for her in the future, and I can’t wait to see where she goes.” he says. Such thoughts are also shared by Devina, who echoes Tumambing’s sentiments — while also suggesting rock acts like Party Pace and Tarsius into the mix.

The other industry figureheads shared their thoughts as well, albeit with some well-reasoned bias for the biggest and most promising acts from their respective labels. To Cipriano, his choice is Unique Salonga, given how since his music is being talked about worldwide already, it can serve as an effective marketing tool to shine the light on more Filipino talents across the world. 

Kean Cipriano

Kean Cipriano photographed by Kim Angela Santos

BINI, BGYO, Maymay Entrata, and Maki are among Liquigan’s picks for the global stage, while Lola Amour, Dilaw, Arthur Miguel, Sugarcane, FELIP, and Jason Dhakal are Mangahas’s top choices to bring into a global audience. And as much names were tossed around, each of these acts are well-deserved to be mentioned by such influential figures.

Though in Mike Vans’ perspective, there’s already one Filipino musician who’s killing it in her own way — with that artist being H.E.R. “I think she’s highly talented and very aware of her Filipino roots, while being unapologetic about it as well. I think she does it in a way that’s in good taste, plus she’s not only original but also very, very good.”

Nevertheless, no matter the artist or unique aspect related to Filipino music — the future is promising for OPM as a whole. As many of these industry figures agree (and in their expert opinions!), there are numerous aspects for us to appreciate about our local craft and artistry, and we’re absolutely lucky to have so many talented musicians to keep watch of as time passes by. The current state of Filipino music may be the most alive it’s been in the present day, but we’re optimistic that this is merely the beginning for a future that will only liven the industry up even further.

Randolf Palanca Jr, Gurjeet Chima, Mike Van, Rhiza Pascua, and Archie Carrasco

Palanca Jr, Chima, Van, Pascua, and Carrasco: Kieran Punay