The 1970s is an era of troubles because of the Martial Law in the Philippines. But beside the disco fever, the love bus and the groovy hair-dos, there is another part of the era which made the people look at the brighter side of their time. The music... the Manila Sound...
Manila Sound is a musical genre based in the Philippines that flourished in the early to middle 1970s. Originated by a pop-rock band called the Hotdogs with their hits, "Ikaw Ang Miss Universe Ng Buhay Ko" (transliterated, "You Are the Miss Universe Of My Life"), "'Manila'" and "Beh Buti Nga", it was characterized by catchy melodic "hooks" (almost like advertising jingles) and romantic novelty lyrics. The Manila Sound also characterized the disco fever in the Philippines by that period. Alternately described as "the marshmallow sound", the Manila Sound ushered a procession of calculated radio hits by groups such as Cinderella, VST & Co., Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society, Florante, Rico J. Puno and the "megastar" of this musical genre, Sharon Cuneta. The Manila Sound's unprecendented and meteoric appeal provided viability to a Philippine recording industry that until then had relied on cover versions and mimicry of foreign hits to entice consumer acceptance. However, inevitably, the formula-addled lyrical bias towards camp humor and parody caused the Manila Sound to devolve into an explicitly theatrical, if not pre-teen, sub-genre as exemplified by Hagibis (a parody of the Village People) and The Boy Friends, until it finally collapsed in the late 1970s under a wave of disco and dance-oriented Hollywood hits from "Saturday Night Fever", "Grease" and "Footloose".
The Manila Sound commercial phenomenon was quickly replaced by a more competitive and festival-oriented genre known as OPM (Original Pilipino Music) that dominated popular Philippine music for the remainder of the 1970s through the late 1980s, for the greater part under the helm of the annual Philippine government (Imelda Marcos as proponent) backed Metro-Manila Popular Music Festival. The two most successful by-products of this annual event were the songs, "Anak" (Child) by the folk-rock singer-songwriter Freddie Aguilar, and "Kay Ganda Ng Ating Musika" (How Beautiful Our Music Is) by pianist-composer-conductor Ryan Cayabyab, both of which ushered a fresh generation of Original Pilipino (aka "Filipino") Music visibly represented by stars such as Kuh Ledesma, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Basil Valdez, Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera and, later, Regine Velasquez.
Renewed interest in the Manila Sound resurfaced in the recent years, perhaps as a reaction to an alarmingly depleted OPM genre, which was relentlessly mined to the core by formulaic routines and hackneyed chord progressions and melodies. In 2006, the Apo Hiking Society (the former Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society) relaunched their retro hits in a double-cd package, coupled by reinterpretations, respectively, by Manila's young alternative bands. Predictably, in 2007, riding on the appeal of the revival, "The Best of Manila Sound: Hopia, Mani, Popcorn" featuring re-interpretations of classic Manila Sound hits, was launched. The current Manila Sound revival hits are "No Touch" (Rocksteddy), Ipagpatawad Mo" (Mayonnaise); "Hanggang Magdamag" (Kapatid); "Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko" (Soapdish); "Rock, Baby, Rock" (Kala); "Bitin Sa 'Yo" (Up Dharma Down); "Bonggahan" (6Cyclemind); "Macho Guwapito" (Protein Shake); "Tao" (DRT); "Kapalaran" (Radioactive Sago Project); "Ako Si Superman" (Sound); "Handog" (Join the Club); and "TL Ako Sa 'Yo" (Kitchie Nadal).
Below are some Manila Sound icons:
THE HOTDOGS Pop rock group which started the Manila Sound. The group introduced some Filipino icons to the industry such as Ms. Zsa Zsa Padilla. They made groovy classics such as Annie Batumbakal, Bongga Ka 'Day and Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko. At present, Hotsilog (a revival album of the Hotdogs' hits) is still available in stores.
VST and COMPANY This group started out with comedian Vic Sotto. The group made Philippine disco hits such as Disco Fever, Awitin Mo Isasayaw Ko and Rock Baby Rock. VST and Company hits are mixed with the tunes of Bossa Nova at present and the album, The Bossa Nova Collection: VST and Company, are out in stores.
THE BOYFRIENDS Band famous for creating the song Sumayaw, Sumunod which is a classic disco hit.
SOUL JUGGLERS Funky band that performed "Hanggang Magdamag" and "Pinoy Disko".
CINDERELLA Cinderella is a band which commonly makes hits about romance. The romantic band made timeless classics such as T.L. Ako Sa'yo, Bato Sa Buhangin, Ang Boyfriend kong Baduy and Superstar ng Buhay Ko. The late Yolly Samson was the voice behind those romantic hits. Like VST and Company, Cinderella hits are also blended with Bossa Nova in the album The Bossa Nova Collection: Cinderella. With the VST album, it is out in stores.
APOLINARIO MABINI HIKING SOCIETY Commonly known as the APO Hiking Society. Though pioneers of the OPM genre, this group of music-loving college students also made Manila sound hits like Blue Jeans and Pumapatak nanaman ang Ulan. The group, now consists of Jim Paredes, Danny Javier and Buboy Garovillo, is still together these days as friends and as musicians. Kami nAPO Muna, a tribute album, is still out in stores.
SAMPAGUITA Rock and roll group popular for classic hits like the groovy Bonggahan. Tao is also one of their classics.
HAGIBIS Male sing and dance group famous for male hits like No Touch. The group is similar to the present male group Maskulados in terms of style in music, muscular appearance and dances.
REY VALERA Solo artist and composer known for singing the romantic Kahit Maputi na ang Buhok ko. First appeared in the Electric Hair Band.
SHARON CUNETA Megastar started her career as DJ's pet after recording Rey Valera's composition, Mr. DJ. She was 12 years old in year 1979 when she started her career. After being blockbuster actress and famous inspiring OPM singer, she continues her singing career.
FLORANTE First to perform the classic and inspirational song, Handog. Also folk singer who performed Ako'y Isang Pinoy.
RICO J. PUNO Masculine singer with hits Macho Gwapito and Babaero. After Manila Sound, Rico J. Puno also became an OPM legend. At present, he still performs here and abroad.
Vicor Music Philippines is the recording studio of a lot of these Manila Sound icons.
Manila Sound's Return
Year 2006 was it when Filipino funky band, Kala, appeared in the music scene. Their first hit is Jeepney which was released summer of 2006. According to Inquirer, the band is reviving the Manila Sound genre through funky music. Rene Garcia (member of the Hotdog band) noted that the band is carrying out the funky groove of the 1970s. The band is influenced by a lot of groovy bands and musicians. The band's also part of the tribute album Hopia Mani Popcorn. They made a funky remake of VST and Co.'s Rock Baby Rock.
The Manila Sound is also a start for the success of the Philippine music industry. Artists and musicians of the country will look up to it from present up to the upcoming days. That is why at present, its artists and bands are given honor.
Manila sound is styled as smooth, easy-flowing pop/rock music, fused with funk, light jazz and disco, in taglish language characterized by "juvenile lyrics" and, not infrequently, by "swardspeak" (aka "gayspeak", i.e. homosexual slang) recast as novelty, comedy or satire.
- Cultural Heritage - Hotdog (2006). Retrieved on 2006 July 5.
- Kala: Manila sound is back in the groove - INQ7.net. Inquirer. INQ7 Interactive, Inc. (2006). Retrieved on 2006 July 5.
- The Best of Manila Sound: Hopia Mani Popcorn