Saturday, December 12, 2009

Elections beat to sound of familiar tunes

By Pocholo Concepcion, Cora Lucas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:31:00 12/13/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010, Entertainment (general)

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines--It’s beginning to sound a lot like the election campaign period: From Sen. Noynoy Aquino’s melodramatic “Hindi Ka Nag-iisa,” sung by Regine Velasquez to Bro. Eddie Villanueva’s upbeat “Eddie Ako,” performed by rapper Gloc-9 to MMDA chief Bayani Fernando’s catchy “Macho Guwapito.”

Aquino and Villanueva are running for president; Fernando has slid down to vice president but this has nothing to
do with his choice of political jingle.

Sen. Manny Villar picked the music of Parokya ni Edgar and 6cyclemind for his TV commercials.

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno—before he officially backed out of his candidacy for vice president—had his own TV ad which used the song “May Bukas Pa” from the popular teleserye that starred the child character Santino.

The TV commercial of former Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.—who was supposedly running for president until he also bowed out—featured the song “Nobody” by the South Korean group Wonder Girls.

A senatorial bet, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., currently has his own TV ad that features the song “Tuloy Pa Rin Ako” originally by the group Labuyo.

Some of these candidates paid hefty sums to use the music of contemporary bands and artists. All of the advertisements are competing to establish image and identity through songs that would move hearts of the TV audience and hopefully, capture the votes to win the 2010 elections.

Just business

For some of the songs’ composers, it’s just business.

Chito Miranda, vocalist of the pop-rock group Parokya ni Edgar, told the Inquirer that the band has collectively decided not to endorse any candidate. “I don’t care about the politician. I did it for the money,” he quipped—referring to the use of his song “Akala” for the first of Villar’s series of TV commercials.

The song’s original subject—a lighthearted look at taking chances and mistaken notions and which Miranda said he wrote on a whim—was replaced with lyrics that debunk critical perception of Villar’s reputation and character.

Richard Tan, Parokya’s manager, said permission to use the song was coursed through the band’s record label, Universal Records. “The fee paid to us was not that high; it was based on standard rates for publishing rights (which is P15,000), multiplied by 10, as negotiated by the record label,” he said.

But Miranda, the song’s composer, said he was paid a hefty sum, the amount of which he requested not to be published, so he won’t be forced to have a standard price for his other tunes.

Tan pointed out that the agreement stipulated that the band would not sing the song in the commercial. The advertising agency DM9 wrote the revised lyrics that starts with “Akala mo trapo ’yun pala mali ...” (“It’s wrong for you to think he’s a traditional politician ...”

Tan added that the band agreed to perform in Villar’s campaign sorties, but not to directly endorse him and “Akala” would be performed in its original version.

For the OFWs

Another pop-rock band, 6cyclemind, has two songs, “Sandalan” and “Walang Iwanan,” also in Villar’s TV commercials.

The songs were written and recorded several years ago, but were apparently chosen for the touching lyrics (“Iiyak mo na ang lahat sa akin;” “Walang iwanan kahit sa’n ka mapadpad”) that matched Villar’s special concerns: OFWs.

The band’s members and manager believe it was Villar’s eldest son, Paolo, who pushed for the songs to be used in the ads.

The deal—including the making of the commercials themselves—was likewise handled by DM9, which paid song publishing fees to Music R Us (MRU), the firm that oversees the publishing rights to compositions by artists signed to Sony Music Philippines. 6cyclemind is a Sony Music artist.

“There are no fixed rates,” said MRU president Merwin Tee. The song publishing rights for such ads “is a little less than P2 million” per song.

Tee said the money was usually divided between the composer and the interpreter. But since 6cyclemind is both the composer and interpreter, the band collected everything.

Asked if 6cyclemind also agreed to endorse Villar when campaign season starts, 6cyclemind manager Darwin Hernandez said: “We actually started performing last Nov. 23 … And we believe in what [Villar] is doing. There’s nothing wrong with being identified with him.”

Before he decided not to run for president, Sen. Chiz Escudero had a TV commercial that featured the song “Bagong Umaga.” It was performed by singer-composer Bayang Barrios, who co-wrote it with husband Mike Villegas. The song was first performed in 1996 for Fernando Poe Jr.’s TV ad for the 2004 presidential elections.

Barrios said it was Escudero’s wife Christine who first inquired about “Bagong Umaga.” Barrios added that she and Christine are friends, so it was not difficult to negotiate.

Asked how much she was paid for the two ads, Barrios hinted that the fee was quite substantial when Escudero used it.

Grand production

Senator Aquino’s TV commercial disguised as a music video has a running time of more than 3 minutes. The grand production features a new song, “Hindi Ka Nag-iisa,” with a powerhouse cast of more than a dozen show biz celebrities.

Pop singer Regine Velasquez sings the theme that was composed by singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid.

Alcasid admitted that he didn’t charge anything for the song. “I wrote it as a gift to the Aquino family.”

The making of the music video itself was all done free of charge, according to TV host/talent manager Boy Abunda, its producer.

He said he and Kris Aquino—a close friend, TV co-host and the senator’s sister—handled everything, talking to the talents and the entire production and post-production team—who all readily agreed to work without pay.

Noel’s commitment

Singer-songwriter Noel Cabangon, who has lent two original songs for Aquino’s presidential campaign, expressed a commitment “to carry him all the way to the polling place.”

One of the songs, “Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino,” has been adapted as the theme of Mabuting Pilipino, a volunteer group for Aquino whose name was inspired by the song.

“When I give my song to a candidate, I have to believe in him and join his campaigns,” said Cabangon, who said his appearances in Aquino’s campaign are free. “It’s not just selling your song and then leaving it. The song and the composer-singer are one. You cannot separate them. The song is a reflection and soul of the person.”

Hip hop for God

Just last Thursday, Bro. Eddie Villanueva’s TV ad was launched in between the early evening newscasts. Like Senator Aquino’s ad, it is a full music video and uses a song specially written for Villanueva’s campaign.

The song, “Eddie Ako,” was composed by Pol Armasin, a member of Villanueva’s Jesus Is Lord (JIL) religious community, and features Pinoy hip hop’s hottest artist, Gloc-9.

“I’m not a member of JIL, although I’m a [born-again] Christian,” Gloc-9 told the Inquirer. “When I was asked to appear in the video, I felt everything finally fell into place because there were other candidates who wanted me and I kept saying no to them.”

Gloc-9 said he was paid an honorarium to sing in the video, “a small amount compared to the rate I would charge for such a project.”

Does it matter?

Another singer-songwriter, Gary Granada, has reportedly turned down offers by some candidates to use his music for their media campaign.

Asked by the Inquirer to comment on the proliferation of political TV ads, Granada wrote in an e-mail: “The fact that ‘jingles’ play a significant role in elections further emphasizes the role that media and the ‘arts’ assume in shaping society ... Cost-wise and sense-wise, public interest is better served if political ads were banned ... Do [musicians] have to believe in the candidates they sell? The correct answer is yes. But considering the crap and incoherent platforms that we hear from the crop of candidates we regularly have, does it really matter?”

Original Story:

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