‘Awit ng Paghilom’: The Stories of Inspiration and Call to Action

Awit ng Paghilom” is a compilation of original Filipino songs composed and recorded by 60 campers who attended last year’s Elements Music Camp under the guidance of the group mentors coming from the best in the music industry. Produced in a wild array of music styles, the singing is mostly non-English, and diversely written in clear content, and original melodies and tunes. Listen closely, and you’ll hear the fascinating stories of inspiration and call to action.

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Elements Music Camp overview

It’s a sunny afternoon last 12 Mar 2014 at Chateau 1771, El Pueblo, Ortigas. We met some of the mentors and the people behind Elements Singing Songwriting Camp at the press launch of the said album, “Awit ng Paghilom.” The Elements Singing Songwriting Camp aims to bring together aspiring and professional musicians to share, learn and promote Filipino music. Press launch photos HERE.

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Elements Music Camp mentors Ebe Dancel, Armi Armi Millare, Jim Paredes, Quest, Jazz Nicolas, Maestro Ryan Cayabyab and Francis “Brew” Reyes.

Ms. Twinky Lagdameo, COO of 7101 Music Nation and Camp Director, narrates how the camp started, the artists who have attended the camp and mostly about how life changing this experience is for these artists. “Dapat ang original 5 year plan was actually to launch different kinds of camp. Nakita namin noong first year, ang galing-galing! And then we realized that no one’s going to support them, that’s when we set up Radio Republic.”

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Twinky Lagdameo, COO of 7101 Music Nation and Camp Director

“Who doesn’t respect a Joey Ayala, a Gary Granada,” Ms. Twinky enumerated. “But you don’t hear them on the radio and you don’t see them on TV, that doesn’t mean they’re not fantastic. I believe na kulang talaga ang suporta sa mga local artists, that’s why we built the platform.”

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Maestro Ryan Cayabyab

“For the past 4 years, Tao Corporation has been sponsoring the Elements Music Camp. It’s a 5-day camp held in Dumaguete for aspiring songwriters and singer-songwriters attended by mentors who are among the best songwriters in the country. It’s an advocacy for all of us songwriters to at least share with them what we know about the craft of songwriting and beyond,” opens the artistic director, Maestro Ryan Cayabyab. “Every year there’s this magic that happens in Dumaguete.”

Professional and veteran songwriters like Maestro Ryan equipped participants through lectures on publishing rights, managements and other things pertaining to the craft of songwriting and beyond.

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Related links to Elements Music Camp:

The creation of “Awit ng Paghilom”

It’s another wonderful day to listen to Mr. C’s intensive talk, ingenuity and humor. Mr. C has mentioned that campers were ferried to camp in Dumaguete for free by Tao Corp. Last year’s camp was probably one of the most challenging camps due to recent occurrences. But no typhoon or calamities can deter the 2013 Elements Music Camp, they believed that it’s the perfect opportunity to create songs to inspire, uplift, encourage and help in the healing of our country.

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“We’re excited to share with you what had transpired in 2013 edition of the camp. This year, the theme is to write an inspirational song or something that will spark people to take action all for the benefit and rehabilitation Yolanda survivors. We came up with this new album “Awit Ng Paghilom -A Gift for the Children of the Storm,” tells Mr. C.

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“The proceeds of this album will go to barangays in Tacloban, specifically for projects that we have lined up for the people of Tacloban. We are working to get solar lamps for power, rebuilding of sari-sari stores, Kopiko kiosks, medical missions, rebuilding of homes & barangay facilities and feeding programs.”

“It’s a very exciting project kasi kapag napakinggan ninyo, maririnig ninyo iyong kanya-kanyang style ng mentors who were in charge of each camp group,” denotes the Maestro. “For me it’s the most exciting thing.”

The press launch discussion

The press launch discussion was also attended by mentors Ebe Dancel, Armi Millare, Jim Paredes, Quest, Jazz Nicolas and Francis Brew Reyes (producer of the song “Pagbabago”). They are united to introduce and promote this one of a kind record to the public.

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The album is a 10-track album composed by the campers themselves and mentored by Ryan Cayabyab, Joey Ayala, Gabby Alipe, Jimmy Antiporda, Ogie Alcasid, Noel Cabangon, Jay Contreras, Ebe Dancel, Aia De Leon, Jay Durias, Gloc-9, Raymund Marasigan, Jungee Marcelo, Armi Millare, Jazz Nicolas, Jim Paredes, Quest, and Rey Valera.

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Roundtable interview with press, IG photo by @armimillare.

Talking with Up Dharma Down vocalist Armi Millare was one of the best moments at the press launch. Up Dharma Down has been sculpting music for more than a decade now, penning beats and performing hooks for everyone. She has a lot of stories to tell: her first time being one of the mentors in the camp, the great experience working on songs with relation to the recent typhoon along with her co-mentors, and the well-qualified campers.

“They are all actually seasoned song writers, and the thing with Elements is the songwriters have been doing this over 10 years now. It’s my first time creating songs with 60 campers and acclaimed music mentors. You could just imagine the by product,” avers Armi.

What mentors acquired from the camp?

Jim Paredes: As a mentor, somebody has been doing what I’m doing for 41 years. The camp has always been so fresh because they’re coming in from a new place, and there have been so many influences coming since the time I felt I had developed my instincts as a songwriter and as a music person. It’s very exciting for me to be open to all of the influences and to influence them.

Mr. C: Because they came from all parts of the Philippines, we learned a lot from the camper’s new ideas and high morals.

Quest: It shows the creativity of the Filipinos. Itong grupong ‘to may iba’t ibang genre, iba’t ibang age level. Yung iba ngang campers have done their share in building OPM but still to be able to attend ng walang ere at walang pride. We just learn from each other and make good music. That’s one of the best things that I’ve experienced there. Be able to sit down and see a 17 year-old kid write a song that I wished I’ve written.

Twinky: Because we had an objective to do something for Yolanda survivors, mentors have to take bigger roles in the camp. Other than guiding them in writing the song, they actually are the ones who produced it. They gave the campers a different experience outside the camp, of what really happens when you collaborate. We also pushed the mentors of injecting their own style. This compilation really sounds different. If it’s Joey Ayala, you don’t think twice. You know its Joey Ayala. Alam mo ang influence mo, although it’s the campers who performed it.

“Awit ng Paghilom”: Stories Behind the Songs

  • Jim Paredes for “Kapatid “

“A good song would be something that addresses the Yolanda situation but it’s also a general song about coming to rescue. Kung hindi pa naiisip yung ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,’ yun ang gawin natin. Let’s try to use that as a peg. At the same time, we wanted to be a little bit more specific, so we started with the word “Kapatid,” narrates musician Jim Paredes the guidelines in creating the song.

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“Let’s make it Tagalog. I want the victims themselves naman to understand. What happened was, everybody was coming from everywhere pero walang lyrics na lumalabas. So I started the lyrics actually, “Kapatid.” Everybody started from there. Others contribute through singing, lyric phrasing, delay a word or how to express the song which leads to another emotional level where it compensates to certain types of chords.”

  • Quest for “Tayo Na!”

“We sat down, Jay Durias brought his keyboards. Call to action kase ang nabunot naming theme. I asked them if they have any idea on how to start this. And I gave them a tip, usually when I want to write a song, I listen to the music first. When Jay started playing, I started the first line ‘Pagkatapos ng lahat.’ And then it was just so natural. Isinulat nila tapos kami ni Jay namamangha lang. Mayroong minimal tweaks. And we came up with a line, if you saw the title of ours. It’s “Tayo Na! (To stand up!) but it’s also Tayo Na! (Let’s go!),” confidently tells singer-songwriter Quest. “Ambilis lang niya. Yung mga nahihiya, tinanggal talaga namin. Like Clara Benin, very quiet and shy. But when she started singing? Bang!”

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“Others would ask us what we think about the song. But I’ll ask back, ‘what do you think about your song? You need to feel good about it.’ Nagtatanong kase sila ng kung ‘okay ba ito o okay ba yan?’ I replied, ‘Okay ba sa iyo yan? Kase kanta mo yan, I want you to feel good about what you make.’ And syempre it’s still open for suggestion. Ang ganda ng process, for us it was quite natural.”

  • Jazz Nicholas for “Langgam”

“Co-mentor ko si Gloc-9. Pinakanta ko muna sila ng mga original songs nila para marinig ko yung bawat style. Luckily, meron kaming 3 folk singers, may 2 rappers tapos sakto matagal ko na gustong gumawa ng folk rock na kanta,” says Itchyworms drummer Jazz Nicholas as their song represents folk music with a rap element.

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“One of the campers came up with this nice metaphor na tungkol sa victims ng Yolanda which is langgam, naisip nya na pagnaanod ang mga tao parang langgam lang. Nag-isip din kami ng positive at negative sides of being that metaphor. Mayroong ‘maliit lang na langgam, madali silang maanod pero makulit rin ‘yan na ‘di mo mapatay agad.’ Kapag nagsama-sama sila, isa silang strong biting force or whatever.”

“Ang gumawa ng lyrics yung mga rapper. Sobra akong na-amaze kase kaya nilang mag-freestyle. Bigyan mo sila ng theme, kahit ano kaya nilang sabihin about that theme. Ang lyrics sobrang sisiw lang sa kanila, yun na.”

  • Ebe Dancel for “Kapit Lang”

Yung challenge kase is that may 6 different songwriters, all of them have ideas. Sanay silang magsulat ng kanta on their own. Ang pinakamahalaga more than sharing ideas is the willingness to accept each other’s thoughts and ideas,” explains former Sugarfree vocalist Ebe Dancel the challenges he handled with his group.

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“ May nagsabi ng “Kapit Ka Lang,” sabi ko that’s it. That’s the idea of the song. Tapos may magko-conflict ng verse, may uupo, may magsusulat ng sarili nyang section. Kailangan ko silang hilahin pabalik sa grupo kase sabi ko it’s a team effort. It has to be produced by the whole group or it’s not a song. Natapos ng isang araw, minimal ang supervision.”

  • Armi Millare for “Flame”

“I noticed that the persons/songwriters I worked with have solitary features. Generally songwriters have solitary features but medyo matigas ang ulo nila. When we came up with inspirational, hindi nila necessarily na na-sweep iyong topic ng song, may contraction din. That’s a very holistic idea,” adds Armi Millare as she describes how relatable their song was. “The lines “They can take away your candle but they can’t take your flame” ay sobrang lakas na line.” It speaks for maybe a lot of things which happened that are really harrowing, but it’s what’s inside of you that are going to pull you out of that.”

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“Very minimal supervision as well, when I said matigas ang ulo nila in a good way. They know what they want. They really deliver their own personal take/ their lines depended on the song. I’m really very proud about all of them and the song.”

Who’s not proud of these songs? The deeper, expressive and more heartfelt the songs are the stronger impact to people and effect a change.

Mentor’s favorite songs besides their own song

Ebe Dancel: Langgam and Weder-Weder Lang

Quest: Just because Sitti raps, I got to go with Aia and Raymund song “Hay Mabubuhay”

Jim Paredes: Mula Sa Ilalim and Weder-Weder Lang

“Awit ng Paghilom”: Buy the album, support OPM

Ms. Twinky presented us a documentary video of the happenings at the Elements Music Camp. Checkout here, video by 7101MusicNation.

http://youtu.be/xwAVg6RSF2w

All tracks except “Hay, Mabubuhay” Remix by Raymund Marasigan is now available in iTunes. For P500 you give, you get a CD representing your donation to rebuild infrastructures in Yolanda-hit areas. “Awit ng Pag-Hilom” is available for purchase at Radio Republic, 2299 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City. Look for Liz Lorenzo.

Listen to “Awit ng Paghilom” album preview below exclusively made by VerJube Photographics. Let this be a renewed and urgent appeal for solidarity and continuous support for the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda. Let’s give our share as we champion Filipino music.

“The mentors and the campers gave their effort and time to produce this album. These songs are made by the campers; they’re the next generation that’s coming up. We’re very grateful in Music Nation for all the mentors that every year come and share their talents,” ends Ms. Twinky.

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