It’s not a secret that Cebu is home to the most gifted music makers in the country. They create these amazing originals that often fall on deaf ears because of many different reasons. But I’d personally like to think that the listening culture is slowly changing for the better. But that’s a story for another time.
I’m an emotional creature, so good melodies and lyrics that tug at the heartstrings will always captivate me; and there’s a lot of them in our city. I’m a believer that great art comes from pain. “The Starry Night” was painted by Van Gogh while he was in emotional torment. One of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, “Tears in Heaven” was penned by Eric Clapton following the tragic death of his 4-year-old son.
These songs written by local homegrown artists who might be your neighbors prove that the myth of the tortured artist is not a myth. Never was. Never is. Never will be.
- Ramona by Vincent Eco
So this is strictly not a sad song. It’s only heartbreaking because of how sweet it is with lyrics like, “You’re trying to be bold / You think you’re invincible / But deep down I see through your eyes / That behind the curtain / A sad whistle blowin’ / But I will be humming along,” and “I’ll gowherever you go.” With a simple piano carrying the melody and Eco’s gut-wrenching voice, you feel for the woman he’s singing to, who’s trying to put on a brave face even when there’s a crippling sadness in her heart.
- The Art of by Sepia Times
The moody intro already tells us we’re going to hear something gloriously morose. It opens with “I wanna be okay / But I don’t know how to do that yet,” continues with, “I’m only human like you,” and concludes with, “Learning the art of pain.” This song is all of us on a daily basis basically. It’s an anthem for our imperfection as human beings. It’s a nice reminder that it’s okay not to have it together sometimes. It’s okay to be human.
- MatagPiraso by Ferdinand Aragon
There’s just something about our mother tongue that pierces the gut. In this song that won the first Visayan Music Awards Songwriting Competition, Ferdinand sings about picking up each piece of his broken heart that still continues to yearn for her, because he’s still holding out hope that his shattered heart might be whole again. The concept is not new or groundbreaking, but Ferdinand has a way with words that makes the song magical. My very rough English translation does not give justice at all to his cleverly-written Bisaya lyrics against the background of a beautiful melody.
- Laylayby Chai Fonacier
Written by Lourdes Maglinte and interpreted by Chai Fonacier, “Laylay” is delivered simply and sincerely with an uncomplicated melody that stays true to its English translation of being a lullaby. The lyrics and story behind it, however, weigh heavy on your heart. Lourdes’ grandmother told her she was afraid to sleep because she might not wake up again. This lullaby was Lourdes’ way of comforting her and reassuring her that everything is going to be okay as the chorus goes, “Busatulogna, tulogna / Sa mgadamgomomagbayle tang duha / Tulogna, tulogna / Naakodirihangtudsaimongpagmata.” The song placed second in Vispop’s first edition.
- Sometimes Love by Mary Anchit
While Anchit was working on her debut album, “Miss Mary,” Sometimes Love was a newly penned song that was added to complete the final track list. I remember the first time I heard the rough cut in the studio, I cried. It’s not exclusively about heartbreak, but it’s a cathartic look on the varying facets of love; how it can be ugly and tender simultaneously. The song starts off as a general observation, but then ends as something personal with, “And though love may never ever come perfectly / I’d still choose to love you dear / I’d still choose to love you dear.” And isn’t this what love is all about?
*Save Someday by Lourdes Maglinte
Okay, so this song is not on Spotify yet, but it’s too good to pass up. It hits you right away with opening lyrics that goes, “When you leave me, leave some daisies by the door / With a note that says I don’t love you anymore.” All throughout the song, the writer indulges in the bargaining stage as she pleads, “Love, when you leave me, do it quick but make it sweet / I know it’s crazy but believe me, it’s the kind of hurt I need.” The chorus ties it all up with, “If you really have to go away, then that’s just sad / I’ll be counting all the days I wait ‘til you get back / Just for now, I’ll set you free and let you be / As long as you save someday for me.” Gets. me. every. single. time. There’s a live performance of this floating around Facebook, but it’s best to catch it live where you can cry in public.
Cebu’s music community is a thriving one, and the best way to experience it is by going to gigs, because there are countless artists worth checking out who exist outside of Spotify. Visiting 22tangorecords.com – they’re on Instagram and Facebook too – is a good start if you need a bit of help.