#hillsongconf19

A time of refreshing has truly come. So blessed to be here to reflect, be refreshed and encouraged, and experience rest in God’s presence in this crowd of thousands, after a favoured yet overtaxing season.

The Lord is so faithful and so gracious, and truly, His mercies are new every single day. Praying that this gathering be filled with hope and hunger for Jesus, His Spirit and truth.

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My conference companion of many years, my sister.

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If it ain’t about Jesus

I dread the misuse of Scripture everywhere these days. Seriously, it’s just as bad as disregarding or dishonouring it, if not, worse.

At the end of it all, simply ask yourself: does it glorify God or you? Is it to satisfy/fulfil what He wants or what you want?

If the answer is the latter, then man, we are in a lot of trouble.

If it ain’t about Jesus, then y’all miss the whole point.

Humanity have done this time and again, everything they can to bend biblical truths towards their own principles and desires (the enemy’s modus operandi way back from the Garden, “Oh honey, you shall not certainly die…”).

But I believe that the Truth will stand His ground—He always will, and always has prevailed.

Colour Run

Here’s a not so traditional Colour Run photo of mine, taken by my singing student. I know. What the heck, right?

This is when you had no plans whatsoever to join the school Colour Run, yet found yourself right in the middle of it, then come back to school to do more after class tuition.

No. Plans. You could tell by my outfit. I still got my kids’ respect after all, so I’m cool.

Also, I would rock the green hair. Don’t you think?

Wear black and sing!

When you got to perform and unsure of what to wear, just do black! You will never go wrong with black.

During the weekend, our music team at Filozart have participated in the first Philippine Cultural Night at Blacktown.

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We brought in our share of Filipino culture and music through some contemporary songs that tell of our stories and uniqueness.

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It’s always incredible to sing OPM (Original Pinoy Music). It’s always incredible to sing in your native tongue, and represent your roots, especially its artistry.

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Photography by Jade and Michael Cadeliña

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Visiting an old friend

The Opera House. This place is still breathtaking to me. Seriously, how do you get over it?

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Anyway, I was here today to see Yiruma in concert. Finally! So thankful I managed to grab a ticket this time after I missed his first sold out concert a couple of years ago. I remember the tickets were selling like pancakes at the time. Perhaps, I wasn’t quick enough to buy myself a seat.

Even after arriving late because of the freaking track work, it was still an fantastic experience.

His music is colourful and sublime. Hearing and feeling it live, I was moved. I was mesmerised.

For the most part, it’s simple but it draws you in. It speaks to your soul with gentleness and sensitivity. Hence, I was hooked.

Yiruma also never used a single chart for his concert. Apparently, he doesn’t want and ever need any. He wants to deliver his music in the most outright and genuine way possible. How awesome is that?

Taking photos and videos were not allowed (of course), so as far as visual memoirs are concerned, I don’t have a lot to share. But what he made me feel and experience, it will surely linger for a long while.

Photo taken during the intermission.

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We remember

Another reflective Semana Santa. Aside from reflecting on the Gospel and the sacrifice of Christ, this season also helps me reconnect with the memories and music of my childhood.

So here’s a homage to my Himig Heswita roots. Their music helped mold my love for music.

Also, because Romans 8:10, “Christ lives within us.”

(Watch in HD)

Lighting is everything

Lighting can make or break you. Apparently.

This was an impromptu “photoshoot” with my brother, Andreo.

Man, I don’t know. But this was interesting.

Also, this was apparently done with low light, and high ISO. Whatever that means.

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Original photos by Marcus Rivera and Bob Reyes

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First wedding of the year

First wedding gig for the year. I am very thankful and favoured.

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Can I just say how enchanting weddings are? Witnessing two people profess their love for one another, and exchange lifetime vows in the presence of God and people who matter—man, it gives me feelings I can never familiarise or summon up on my own. I am easily filled with awe.

Getting to share in such wondrous occasion will always be a special encounter.

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Sing to me, Ben!

February 1st is a definitely a good day. Tony, Grammy, and Daytime Emmy Award winner, my Broadway icon, Ben Platt drops two singles today from his much awaited debut album Sing to Me Instead, which will be released in full on March 29.

Needless to say, the two songs entitled “Bad Habit” and “Ease My Mind” are absolutely sensational. This sneak peek gave us a taste of what to anticipate from Ben’s launching album. A great blend of soul, pop and musical theatre with a strong flare of gospel. His voice has matured so much, and is ruthlessly expressive (which is his trademark I guess).

His melismas are brave and are in the right places. His vibratos are harsh! I am almost at a loss for words, and his music brings me to a whole new dimension. I simply cannot wait to listen to the complete work!

Ben Platt, you have my heart, my respect and utmost admiration. Indeed, this is a start of something incredible for him and his avid fans and supporters all over world.

Listen here: Bad Habit & Ease My Mind

Filipino Artists You Need to Listen to More in 2019

Man, OPM has truly taken a new turn in the past few years, especially in 2018. It feels like a whole new breed of creators, singers, bands, and musicians, have emerged in recent times, not to resurrect a hopelessly moribund genre, but to establish a brand new premise, even identity. I believe this is galvanised by a strong need to express the current dialogue of the culture, its recent triumphs and frustrations, as well as new influences, new social and creative standards, and new aspirations.

And so, I listed down some of these brilliant Filipino artists that I want to make sure are in my Spotify playlist for the coming year, not only because their works are affective and sublime, but because these are artists who champion our musical treasury and live out the legacy of OPM with fresh sounds, unstoppably ingenious spirits, and new stories to tell.

Disclaimer: This is MY list. I am not imposing it to anyone at nor stating that they’re the only decent OPM artists of the time. I’m sure I will definitely miss one or two names. So, I encourage you to make your own.

 

MOIRA DELA TORRE

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I was right when I said that Moira was going to be a “trendsetter” in my blogpost two years ago (that people have not stopped visiting, surprisingly). She’s gone above and beyond that—she has become a game changer. She is the most streamed local artist in the Philippines this year; and her outstanding hits such as Malaya and Tagpuan will perhaps explain why.

Her luminous, fragile soul, and her mellifluous voice can both mend and destroy your vulnerable heart. Whatever story she tells through her original ballads and revivals are always believable and deeply felt. She can change your mental and physical atmospheres in a heartbeat.

My top picks: We & Us, Tagu-Taguan

 

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A profound blend of pop and folk elements, their splendid use of words, and gripping melodies—Ben&Ben’s music will surely tear at your heartstrings. Big time. They will leave any listener on the verge of sentimentality, and oftentimes in full-blown nostalgia, but still with a subtle ring of hope. No wonder this exceptional band is also in the list of most streamed artists in 2018.

My top picks: Maybe the Night, Bibingka

 

CLARA BENINfs_clara_rs.jpgSmooth, soothing, sensational. Her music has been tagged “coffee shop music” for its calming nature and subdued tonal design. I first head her song, Closure in the closing credits of the TEN17P film, First Love. From then on, I would go to this song as though running to a peaceful sanctuary. Her voice is sure to take the edge off life’s hurts and haste. And her lyrical poesy, simply moving.

My top picks: Closure, Parallel Universe

 

IV OF SPADESIV-of-Spades-e1539025512711.jpgAbsolute hitmakers. Mundo exploded on the Internet early this year, and is in fact the most streamed song on Spotify in the country for 2018. This song gave romance an eccentric spin; the band’s unique vocal stylings communicate its captivating poetic language in a way no one else has. Now that their main vocalist has left and moved on, I wonder how the group will sustain their musical design and distinctive identity.

My top picks: Mundo, In My Prison

 

REESE LANSANGAN2a7dec23eedfbbc45968ed74ebe96a26.jpgA lustrous gem of the Filipino indie scene. Her vocal style carries a strong resemblance to that of Regina Spektor, but obviously using a different idiom and artistic essence. I particularly enjoy her quirky, feel-good acoustic tunes that showcase her charming vocal flips and inflections. Her sweet sound and youthful vibe have surely made her one of the most significant and sought-after acts in the country’s indie gig circuit.

My top picks: Exploration No. 5, Grammar Nazi

 

DECEMBER AVENUE10300439_10152518703712765_5922152470041209929_n.jpgPop rock music is most effective and appreciated when its main melody is altogether elating and instantly memorable. December Avenue offers exactly that with their songs, bringing forth lyrics that are heavily sentimental and straightforward. The stories they tell are real and relatable. This band makes hugot sound irresistibly cool and sufferable.

My top picks: Bulong, Sa Ngalan ng Pag-ibig

 

TOM’S STORYtumblr_ntpwktzXGG1uq6eb8o2_r1_1280.jpgSometimes, words are not needed to convey a message—the music alone can speak for itself, and take the audience to a colourful realm they can explore imaginitively and playfully. Tom’s Story is skilful and eloquent enough to do this, particularly evoking personal feelings and emotions from their listeners through a wide range of conventional and unconventional expressive techniques. Their musical rhetoric is plainly exceptional.

My top picks: Mugatu, Anchors

 

KYLA17ca77300350807b8eb5e554b8d45b8d0d9522d5.jpegI think everybody knows I can talk about Kyla for hours. In light of the recent release of her latest album, Queen of R&B, her music really sparkled this year with gorgeous melodies, enthralling riffs-and-runs, and of course, her compelling, crystalline voice. The new songs certainly sought to prove her music is still relevant, and her musicianship is still unparalleled.

My favourite hobby, though, is to listen to her earlier hits, and find gems in her unreleased, almost unheard-of tracks. And man, they’re golden. For example, (for some reason) I have never heard of Maghihintay Lamang and Tahan Na until recently; and both songs are more than 10 years old already. Nevertheless, I look forward to hearing new stuff from the “Queen of R&B”, and digging some more from her classics vault.

My top picks: What If I, Pangarap Na Dumating

 

YENG CONSTANTINO

29737781_335967880260625_1925812461638778880_n.jpgNobody weaves a narrative like Yeng Constantino. Her recent album Synesthesia is a beautifully woven tapestry of real and personal narratives that intimately knit together to create one chromatic storyline. And her music is the powerful force, the omniscient narrator that carries this masterpiece to the listeners. Her artistry continues to stretch out; and she always has something marvellous to offer.

My top picks: Ako Muna, Bakasyonista

 

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KZ’s soul prowess has definitely set the entire Asia ablaze this year after her electrifying performances on “Singer 2018”. Her award-winning album, Soul Supremacy has featured her artistic proficiency and versatility with a chromatic range of soul-filled music including ballads, catchy pop melodies, rap and funky tunes. It is a highly creative and well-rounded record that brings KZ’s musical core to the fore—sophisticated, yet clearly expressed. She is also to be admired for the “micro-nuances” in her singing voice that colours her words quite poignantly. Her music is brimming with intelligence and passion.

My top picks: Labo, Imposible

 

No doubt, Pinoy music has not stopped to evolve, explore and embody the colourful and intricate facets of our life and culture. OPM is on the rise, and like what I’ve always said: It is here to stay. Make that playlist!