After taking a break for quite some time, one of the most prestigious OPM songwriting competitions is back with the Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs: 2014. Quite frankly, I wondered if we’ll be having one this year especially after the huge comeback they had last year because this usually happens every March. But worry no more because not only is it back for another year, it’s getting bigger than ever with 15(!) songs vying for this year. This, we here at Tit for Tat will be grading all the songs in contention so you can also vote for your favorites before the competition night this Sunday.
Song details format credited to: manillenials.com/himig-handog-p-pop-love-songs-2014-top-15-finalists/
“AKIN KA NA LANG”
Interpreter: Morissette Amon
Words & Music by: Francis “Kiko” Salazar
Arranged & Produced by: Francis Kiko Salazar
Music video: Colegio de San Juan de Letran
Reminiscent of the big belted diva songs singing of heartbreak and missed love, “Akin Ka Na Lang” definitely fits the bill. It is emotional, it has whispering parts, and by the end, there’s the vocal acrobatics painting the hurt of a woman who wishes she’d have the man she loves. It has a widespread appeal especially to the general public and will make this a mainstay at the “pangmasa” FM stations. The music video’s like a Sarah Geronimo redux circa Forever’s Not Enough though. Small skit? Check. Lady singer acting? Check. Girl crying in her very long train of a gown? Check. It wasn’t bad, but it doesn’t inspire anything new as well.
Song: 2/5 | Music Video: 1.5/5
“BUMABALIK ANG NAGDAAN”
Interpreter: Jessa Zaragoza
Words & Music by: Sarah Jane Gandia
Arranged & Produced by: Jimmy Antiporda
Music video: Meridian International College
You heard the first song above, right? This is the continuation of that girl’s story. But damn if I’ll deny that I miss Jessa Zaragoza’s voice. Her distinct delivery is a treat here. Reminiscing is probably the theme of this whole entry, as the woman (in this case, Jessa) misses her one great love. I slightly prefer this though since the breakdown of the song is clearer and gives space for the singer and the listener to breathe especially in the song’s climax part. The music video, while nothing original, was fun to watch since the first part is basically Rihanna’s “Stay” while the last one is Christina Aguilera’s “I Turn To You.” However, I am living for Jessa’s actressing skills in this one (the tears in the end!!!), so I guess I’d rank it higher.
Song: 2.5/5 | Music Video: 2/5
Interpreter: Jovit Baldivino
Words & Music by: Raizo Chabeldin & Biv De Vera
Music video: Far Eastern University
“Dito” dealt with a person being stuck with his feelings, harbored lonely memories back when he was young as Jovit Baldivino emphasizes the “Di-tooooooo” in “Dito sa puso ko.” Okay we get it, you’re really hurt. It’s a lovely song, though on par with the first two as songs about heartbreak and lost love. The music video did have some potential switching to black and white (to indicate that it was ancient perhaps? Lol), and some juxtaposition of the guy’s character back when he was young and now that he’s old, though I think the palette was overdid in some parts making it look like a bit amateurish when I’m certain they’re going for emotional.
Song: 2/5 | Music Video: 1.5/5
“EVERYTHING TAKES TIME”
Interpreter: Hazel Faith Dela Cruz
Words & Music by: Hazel Faith Dela Cruz
Music video: Adamson University
One thing I’ve always loved about these festivals is discovering new talent. Just last year alone, two of my favorite entries were from newbie singer/songwriters Marion Aunor (“If You Ever Change Your Mind“) and Wynn Andrada (“Tamang Panahon“). Such is the case for Hazel Faith dela Cruz who wrote, arranged, interpreted, and even starred in the music video of her entry “Everything Takes Time.” Certainly a bit more upbeat and probably the feel good song of the first four entries by far, “Everything…” is about waiting for that right moment and right time. The music video weaving four different stories of young girls being frustrated in life, with Hazel Faith serving as their indirect fairy god mother, is somewhat cute and fits the vibe of the song. Refreshing song of the bunch!
Song: 3.5/5 | Music Video: 3/5
“HALIK SA HANGIN”
Interpreters: Ebe Dancel, Abra
Words & Music by: David Dimaguila
Arranged & Produced by Jonathan Ong
Music video: University of the East
Okay so prior to giving this a spin, I have to say that it’s one of my most anticipated entries since I loooove both Ebe Dancel and Abra. But trying to keep my bias aside, this is really good. I like the slow build up of the whole song. Ebe Dancel sings the words as if they’re being whispered and it makes the whole haunting vibe more effective. Then comes Abra’s part which further specified the desolation and state of sadness the character felt even having “blood tears.” Props to all those who made the paper airplanes here (they’re a loooot), and I like the transitions in the scenes (zooming in at one place, zooming out at another). I hope they cleaned all the paper airplanes in the scene where the guy threw them in the road though.
Song: 4/5 | Music Video: 4/5
Interpreter: Angeline Quinto
Words & Music by: Joel Mendoza
Arranged & Produced by: Albert Tamayo
Music video: Ateneo de Manila University
Okay so I guess we’re back to the depressing love songs with this song interpreted by Angeline Quinto. However, I find this the better of the “sad” songs by far since it’s one where the interpreter is perfectly matched with the song. Quinto brings in so much honesty in her performance that it’s hard not to be carried away. It’s basically less is more with her as it brings the raw impact of the song. The music video was probably the cleanest one yet, and one that would certainly mistaken as a professional music video. It’s well done even if the treatment was already done many times.
Song: 2.5/5 | Music Video: 3.5/5
Words & Music by: Nica del Rosario
Arranged & Produced by: Gino Cruz
Music video: De La Salle-College of St. Benilde
Juris’ slow, bordering on reciting delivery, of the verses is either a blessing in disguise or a genius plan in the making because that totally worked with the nature of the song. The lyrics, containing deep hurt, effectively doubled with the interpreter’s emotional take on it. I like how she lets the words linger making the emotions translate more to its audience. The video’s pretty nice as well, especially on a technical standpoint, even leaving with a catch in the end. It’s one of those melodramatic songs that totally works on so many different levels.
Song: 3.5/5 | Music Video: 3.5/5
“IF YOU DON’T WANT TO FALL”
Interpreter: Jed Madela
Words & Music by: Jude Gitamondoc
Arranged by: Jad Bantug & 1032 Studio
Music video: University of Santo Tomas
For some reason, this song reminds me of South Border’s “Wherever You Are.”, and that’s not even a knock to it. I like how low key the song was. Save for some unnecessary runs, Jed Madela was restrained and heartfelt. It’s one of those songs that I think grows better with you after repeated listens because it’s surprisingly simple, direct, and effective. The music video’s okay too. Love that overflowing pouring of wine shot even if that “fight scene” was kinda out of place technical wise. I think this has the potential to be a sleeper hit?
Song: 4/5 | Music Video: 2.5/5
“MAHAL KITA PERO”
Interpreter: Janella Salvador
Words & Music by Melchora Mabilog
Arranged & Produced by Jack Rufo
Music video: San Beda College Alabang
There’s something odd about the song that I can’t quite put my finger on. No doubt it is catchy, but I still can’t figure out which. The beat’s a little bit odd, I think? Sure it’s a semi upbeat song, but I think it would have fared better in a faster tempo perhaps. Or maybe it was the oddly “Ayaw ni (insert relative here)…” part which sounded out of place and totally forced. It’s like the way the lines were divided was awkward to hear. The video’s cute though, and Janella Salvador was fitting interpreter to put some “youth” spin in it with her vocals. But I guess it’s one where the song lives up to the title. The song has the potential pero…
Song: 2.5/5 | Music Video: 3/5
“MAHAL KO O MAHAL AKO”
Interpreter: KZ Tandingan
Words & Music by: Edwin Marollano
Arranged & Produced by Edwin Marollano
Music video: San Sebastian College-Recoletos
After last year’s “Scared to Death“, which was definitely one of my favorites from prior year’s batch, KZ Tandingan offered a different one this year taking on a song about someone confused whether to choose the person of his dreams who doesn’t have the same affection for him or the other person who loves him even if that wasn’t his ideal one. The beat ‘s reminiscent of that OPM song “Kabit“, and since that one’s a videoke staple of mine, I actually like this one a lot. It’s catchy, it’s quite different, and it has that relate-ability factor. The music video had some good ideas (like that shadow thing), though the final output wasn’t as polished, but I’d still give them props.
Song: 4/5 | Music Video: 2.5/5
“PARE, MAHAL MO RAW AKO”
Interpreter: Michael Pangilinan
Words & Music by: Joven Tan
Arranged & Produced by: Paulo Zarate Recorded by: Jan Levi Sanchez
Music video: University of the Philippines
This one is quite interesting, as I think it caters to a special niche. Not to be confused with the hilarity of “This Guy’s in Love with You, Pare“, this is a serious take on a one way love between two guy friends. The song’s meant to be a love letter/reply answer of the straight man to his gay best friend who’s in love with him. I don’t know if I’m totally comfortable with the idea of singling out the guys in this particular song (when it could have been more universally appealing by leaving “Pare” behind), but I appreciate the earnest honesty of what the song wants to say. UP continues its trend of “equality” this year by being assigned to this song fitting a whole storyline in a four minute video with lavish background to boot.
Song: 3.5/5 | Music Video: 4/5
Interpreter: Marion Aunor feat. Rizza Cabrera & Seed Bunye
Words & Music by: Jungee Marcelo
Arranged & Produced by Jungee Marcelo
Music video: Mapua Institute of Technology
Nitpick all you want, but at this stage, Jungee Marcelo is already a league of his own. The song, too sweet at times, booming with innocence of what it feels like being in love is a breath of fresh air in this group of contenders. With soothing vocals from last year’s festival break out artist Marion Aunor, with the help of Rizza Cabrera and Seed Bunye, this almost bossa pop track is a delight to listen to. The music video certainly captured the sweet atmosphere that the song talks about which surely makes this one of the year’s highlights.
Song: 3.5/5 | Music Video: 3/5
“SIMPLENG TULAD MO”
Interpreter: Daniel Padilla
Words & Music by: MJ Magno
Arranged by: Teddy Katigbak
Music video: Polytechnic University of the Philippines
There’s something about Daniel Padilla and songs that lets him serenade and appreciate the girl of his dreams no? Probably it’s because he fits the bill of a manic pixie dream boy that this totally works well for him. Well, “Simpleng Tulad Mo” certainly is right up that alley. It’s cute, if not a bit low key, and simple. It might not be like “Nasa’yo Na Ang Lahat” of last year, but there’s a certain genuine sincerity that the song brings probably making teenagers kilig. Of course we get Kathryn Bernardo in the music video (and that’s not a bad thing, but it’s quite predictable), but despite that, I love the playfulness especially during the last part of it. It’s a song that is definitely in the middle of the pack — it did not reach the highs of the other songs but certainly did not dip the lows of the others as well.
Song: 3/5 | Music Video: 3.5/5
“UMIIYAK ANG PUSO”
Interpreter: Bugoy Drilon
Words & Music by: Rolando “Ronnie” Azor
Arranged by: Albert Tamayo
Music video: St. Paul University Manila
Uhm what’ can be said about this? The song and the video, portraying a love triangle where the woman chooses this guy but ends up realizing she wants the other guy, is alright. It’s quite forgettable and one that might get lost in the shuffle among all these other heartbreak songs and the unique ones in this line up. There’s nothing wrong with Bugoy Drilon’s interpretation (this is totally his wheelhouse), but I guess the song lacked that something for it to totally stand out in this group.
Song: 2/5 | Music Video: 2/5
“WALANG BASAGAN NG TRIP”
Interpreter: Jugs Jugueta and Teddy Corpuz
Words & Music by: Eric De Leon
Arranged & Produced by: Jonathan Ong
Music video: Miriam College
And lastly, we end this lineup with a bang! Being the obligatory novelty track, “Walang Basagan ng Trip” does not need any other introduction as its open about its playfulness and hilarity while sending the message of self-love. Getting the wacky duo of Jugs Jugueta and Teddy Corpuz in this colorful and bubbly music video, both the song and the video poked fun of the #YOLO attitude while also encouraging it to its audience. basing it on the history of this music festival, this is not the type of songs that they usually reward with even a top five/semifinal slot, but for what its worth, it relayed it message pretty much effectively.
Song: 3/5 | Music Video: 3/5
01. “Halik sa Hangin”
02. “If You Don’t Want to Fall”
03. “Mahal Ko O Mahal Ako”
05. “Everything Takes Time”
06. “Pare, Mahal Mo Raw Ako”
07. “Walang Basagan ng Trip”
08. “Hindi, Wala”
09. “Simpleng Tulad Mo”
10. “Mahal Kita Pero”
11. “Hanggang Kailan”
12. “Bumabalik ang Nagdaan”
13. “Akin Ka Na Lang”
14. “Umiiyak ang Puso”
The Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs 2014 will be on Sunday, September 28, 2014, at the Araneta Coliseum hosted by Robi Domingo, Alex Gonzaga, Xian Lim, and Kim Chiu. It will likely be shown on a telecast the same night at Sunday’s Best.
You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl