As the Filipino music scene is dominated by Tagalog and English songs, the Cebuano sound has been criminally underrepresented by the masses.
This is unfortunate as Cebu and the rest of the Visayas have many musicians performing on much bigger stages nationwide.
To further promote contemporary Bisaya music, a festival recently showcased the freshest Visayan artists and introduced the country to the ever-growing genre known as Vispop.
The Vispop Song Writing Competition has kicked off the careers of many famous Bisaya singers by promoting their original compositions and giving them a wider reach.
In 2023, a setlist of the best singers and bands gathered for a night of good tunes and dazzling performances at the Vispop Music Festival at The Terraces at Ayala Center Cebu.
Vispop started as a songwriting competition, with participants having their original songs featured as part of a playlist on a popular FM radio station.
This gives many independent artists the chance to flaunt their talents to a bigger audience.
Its success has spawned many other music festivals in the Philippines, and Spotify even acknowledged Vispop as an official genre of music.
The 2023 festival took place on January 11 a few days leading up to the first in-person Sinulog Festival in three years, and it featured who’s who in the Bisaya music scene.
BISAYA ARTISTS AT VISPOP 2023
- Missing Filemon
- Oh! Caraga
- TJ Monterde
- Kurt Fick
- Jacky Chang
- Jewel Villaflores
- Jerika Teodorico
- Joseph Gara
- Ferdinand Aragon
- Mandaue Nights
Independent solo artists such as Martin Taneo, Franzel Tolentino, and Michael Catarina performed original compositions, showing off their sultry pipes and reaching the hearts of listeners at the event.
The setlist brought a gaggle of the most famous performers in the Cebuano music scene, giving the audience the opportunity to see their favorite artists play live, especially since the festival was free of charge.
Several performers were alumni of the prestigious competition, such as Kurt Fick, the hitmaker of songs like “HAHAHasula” and “Puhon.”
Kurt’s songs take inspiration from his love life, which has brought fans to tears due to their relatability. He also surprised the audience, bringing Manila-based Cebuano Singer John Roa during his performance of his new song, “Di Na.”
John has made a name for himself, collaborating with many artists outside of the Queen City of the South. He has also garnered almost 2 million followers on Tiktok, performing a number of cover songs on the social media platform.
Kurt’s song “Di Na” is composed by his good friend, Jerika Teodorico, also an alum of Vispop. She is famous for her witty and sarcastic lyrics best heard in her upbeat tracks like “Baklay” and “Labyu Langga.”
Paired with her signature acoustic guitar, her songs resonated with many of the viewers of the concert, especially her best friend and fellow performer, Lourdes Maglinte. “
Oozing with sass, Lourdes performed famous Bisaya songs like “Buwag Balik” and one of the most successful Vispop tracks of all time, “Balay ni Mayang”.
Originally performed by Martina Sandiego and Kyle Wong of the Wonggoys, Balay ni Mayang uses the soothing string of the ukulele to create a cute but catchy melody inspired by traditional Filipino music.
Bands also made a prominent appearance, with Mandaue Nights, Oh! Caraga, and Missing Filemon performing their soulful and witty tunes.
The Cebu music scene isn’t only limited to singers though, as underground rap group Rapollo burst onto the stage to introduce the audience to their brand of hip-hop. Rappers from this rap group are also famous for competing in underground rap battles in Bisaya.
Festival-goers were also introduced to the poets of Bathalad who performed original Filipino poetry at the event. This was much different as they used their soft words instead of their musicality to resonate with the energetic audience.
As Cebu celebrated Sinulog week, the Vispop Festival was a worthwhile start to introduce the many talented Visayans. From singing and rapping to poetry and musical instruments, these artistic individuals are indeed a talented bunch.
The festival is currently accepting submissions to be featured in the competition in the future, so we can expect the booming Vispop community to gain more traction in the upcoming years.
The Vispop Music Festival is the perfect avenue to help Bisaya songs compete in today’s music industry.