I discovered while still living in the USA in the late 1970s that Filipinos are excellent singers, dancers and performers! The house band of my favorite music club in Huntsville, Alabama was all Filipinos and I was blown away how they could sing and perform every single song as good, if not better, as the original singer and bands. Fast Forward to the years 2000-2009, when I was an expat English teacher, and I was not shocked that every 5 Star Hotel in the large to midsize cities of China had a Filipino band.
Freddie Aguilar, in the cover photo of this article, is a Filipino Icon on the music scene! I had the pleasure of seeing Freddie perform at Bodega in Quezon City in 1991. His 1979 international hit, “Child,” known as “Anak” in Tagalog, put him on the music charts in many different countries from Asia to Europe to North America during that year. He is still performing his brand of folk rock music to this very day! You can catch him live in Metro Manila almost every week.
During my many trips to the Philippines for 3 decades and while living here the past 4 years, I am never shortchanged with my love of music and the availability of enjoying live band performances. Yes, I also love singing! For a few hundred US Dollars, I bought and set up my own sound system and home karaoke system that has thousands of songs to sing. Singing is one of our favorite pastimes within my family and we also enjoy listening to the fabulous local bands.
Which Music Do You Like?
Unless you are into hard core Country & Western Music, you will not be disappointed in the type of music you can listen to in the Philippines or sing on most public or private karaoke systems. However, I was recently very surprised to see some old American Country & Western songs in Daday's Karaoke Bar in Bacolod City. Does Merle Haggard ring a bell? What about Buck Owens?
The Philippines has many local music bands that cover almost the complete genre of music, including folk, rock, hip hop, reggae, Latino, heavy metal, punk, rap, dance, jazz, easy listening and tribal. Yep, I have heard them all at one time or another! I first heard the Filipino Sabor Latino Band in the early 90s when they were performing songs from the “Mambo Kings” soundtrack at a bar in Makati and today, they are pretty famous in the Philippines for their sound.
An article about Music in the Philippines would not be complete without mentioning RJ Jacinto, The Father of Philippine Rock n Roll! I first heard RJ way back in 1987 when he had returned from exile during the Marcos years. RJ designs his own guitars and while they won't allow you to pick them up and play right off the bat, they are internationally acclaimed. Think of a Les Paul and a Fender Jazzmaster and you will have an RJ Guitar. RJ cranks out the old time Rock n Roll weekly with his band in several upscale hotel lounges in Metro Manila and he has his own syndicated TV Show on Dream Satellite and Skycable. When was the last time you heard the song, “Twist and Shout?” RJ is still raking out the songs on his guitar and his lead female singer will belt out some songs by the Pointer Sisters, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and others to throw in some update variety dance songs that are not traditional Rock n Roll.
No matter what shape your music mind is in, you will find music in the Philippines to put the beat in your feet. Hey, did I ever tell ya that the first time I danced in public with a beautiful young lady was in Manila in 1986? True story!
I am a music fanatic and as I mentioned, I love singing! One of my favorite pastimes in the Philippines is singing karaoke and I had a lot of practice to get pretty good, I might add. Pearl Jam, Ray Charles, CCR, Van Morrison, Simply Red, Rolling Stones, Steve Miller Band, The Beatles and Metallica are just a few of the performer's songs that I really enjoy covering.
It really is more fun in the Philippines and I think it is the Land of Song and Dance!