Casual fans have the most to enjoy from an experience such as the Pinoy Playlist Music Festival (PPMF) 2023.
The annual PPMF prides itself as the “biggest and most inclusive” celebration of Original Pilipino Music (OPM) across genres and generations here in the Philippines. This year’s run, held in Taguig’s BGC Arts Center, was curated by National Artist for Music Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, Moy Ortiz, Noel Ferrer, and Maria Isabel Garcia, offered something new for everyone.
First-time festivalgoers like myself were right to look forward to a complete experience where you can discover new musicians, rediscover timeless artists, learn from industry experts, explore new venues, and meet new faces with revolutionary ideas. Here’s how the PPMF panned out from the perspective of someone who attended all three days.
The BGC Arts Center was a straightforward venue, containing three performance spaces with distinct locations to make for easy guidance with directions: the Globe Auditorium’s ground-level viewing area and stage are on the first floor, the Zobel De Ayala Recital Hall on the second, and the Sun Life Amphitheater outside.
Performances and talks would happen simultaneously across the three spaces, free for attendees to alternate where they want to go, made simpler by the venue’s layout for easy navigation.
There was a plethora of food trucks, art booths, and other stations where one could purchase all sorts of assorted merchandise. On top of that, one could easily exit the venue and avail any of the nearby establishments in proximity to the Sun Life Amphitheater.
Art installations, a PPMF 2023 photo wall, and aesthetically pleasing areas within the venue itself all served as photo opportunities and selfie backgrounds to complete the bonding experience.
Throughout the festival’s run, attendees were treated to performances by veteran acts like Ebe Dancel, Rivermaya, Autotelic, Sitti, and Gary Granada that showcased the timeless excellence of Filipino music. At the same time, one could also discover a selection of budding talents the local music scene had to offer, with performances by Raven, Of Mercury, Young Cocoa, Nica del Rosario, and Davey Langit, to name a few.
Every act went above and beyond. Their sets included on-the-spot collaborations, covers, mashups, singalongs, and even live song requests from the audience.
The BGC Arts Center’s three performance spaces couldn’t have been more appropriate in their intimate feel, truly immersing you in the performance you’re witnessing on stage. Its vibrant vibe was made possible by the Globe Auditorium’s acoustics, the Zobel de Ayala Recital Hall’s privacy, and the Sun Life Amphitheater’s openness.
If anything, the festival’s standout feature was the Pinoy Playlist Conversations, special workshops with music experts on topics like songwriting, AI, and event direction.
The first one, “Filipino Songwriting: From Dreams to Sheet” with Trina Belamide, Jonathan Manalo, and Moy Ortiz, featured a standard presentation accompanied by a live songwriting demonstration (complete with vocals and keyboard from the guest speakers) to put theory into practice.
The follow-up Q&A made for easy clarifications and additional questions from curious attendees. Afterward, the speakers would make themselves available to briefly chat, take pictures, and even connect with aspiring musicians.
Meanwhile, the succeeding talks “AI: Friend or Foe of Filipino Music?” and “The Difficult Filipino Audience (Perfect Ka, Teh?)” likewise offered a roadmap to navigating the music industry amid the increasing presence of AI and the demandingness of critical audiences.
Everything about the PPMF 2023 proved to be a perfect example of advocacy done right, as seen in the curators asking music artists at the end of every set what their vision for OPM is.
Billboard Philippines flipped the question to Cayabyab himself when it got the chance, and his was undoubtedly the winning answer: “I don’t want to look at it from a faraway view… We have to look more inward, more inside, looking at ourselves and the regions of the Philippines. The most important step is to be comfortable with ourselves, to be able to actually express ourselves.”