Ten Best OPM Music Videos Featuring Philippine Society and Culture

It’s true. We’re getting better at music videos, so I thought now would be a good time for a list of top ten best OPM music videos. A few requirements were factored in for this compilation. Naturally, there had to be astig, kick-ass elements, but each video also had to prominently feature a PH factor — some aspect of Philippine history, society or culture.

Let’s get things straight. This list is highly subjective. Because I am numerically handicapped, I am not inclined to mount a statistical study to prove the worthiness of these choices. Also, unless I wanted to groom more realistic panda eyes for lack of sleep, I could not have made myself watch every OPM video in existence. I have had to take my pick from the last five years.

Top Ten OPM Videos

#10 – Tayo’y Mga Pinoy

We are Filipinos

This would have been even more breathtaking if it weren’t part of Smart Communication’s marketing campaign. Notwithstanding the prominent brand display and the cringeworthy neon depiction of internet connectedness however, this was still nicely done.

PH Factor: Bringing together four OPM icons to sing a 1978 patriotic piece espousing pride in our heritage is already a cultural boon. It is a stroke of even greater genius that the four are made to sing ostensibly in different locations: Ely Buendia in Manila’s Intramuros, Rico Blanco in Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, Raimund Marasigan in Albay’s Mayon and Barbie Almalbis in Mindanao (actually in Calatagan?). There is that emotional jab seeing the attempt to unify an extremely diverse nation. You can’t accuse imperialist Manila of exclusivity now, can you? 😉

Favorite Moment: Raimund perched at the back of a moving truck with majestic Mayon as his backdrop. I doubt anyone can sing on a partially rough road without sounding like a chipmunk with hiccups, but that was still cool.

Bonus Trivia: You can see Mayon from anywhere in Albay.

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2013
Music & Lyrics: Heber Bartolome
Director: Mark Querubin

#9 – Halik ni Hudas

Kiss of Judas

Dizzyingly pulsating scenes of Wolfgang performing plus scenes from Erik Mati’s visually unique Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles equals one intense, slightly scary plunge into the dark side of Philippine folklore.

PH Factor: Move over Twilight. We have our own mythical creatures of the night and never have they looked more detestably beautiful than in popular media. Aswang is a general term for various types of carnivorous creatures that have human forms but can also transform into animals such as birds, pigs and dogs. They feast on human internal organs but have a special liking for fetuses.

The tiktik is an aswang that transforms itself into a bird and is called so because of the sound it emits.

Favorite Moment: The boy Abel ridding the world of those foul creatures by spitting salted, garlic flavored cornick through a blow tube. Clever and very Pinoy! We don’t need silver bullets here, yeah. Several packs of dehydrated corn will do.

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2012
Music & Lyrics: Wolfgang

#8 – Dati

Like Before

The song is the 2013 grand winner of the PhilPop Music Festival, a competition organized to put Filipino composers in the limelight and to renew interest in OPM. Its triumph is a confirmation that simple themes can work.

The video is just as straightforward: Sam Concepcion and Tippy Dos Santos reminiscing in song about a wonderful childhood amidst some… um… grass!

PH Factor: Julio’t Julia, Sarah, Marvin at Jolina, Mylene at Bojo Molina – all elements of a colorful 90s Filipino subculture. These names however, aren’t the only touch of Filipino in the video. At the end, the young versions of Sam and Tippy look through a passport. The reason why things have changed between them as adults is because one of them left.

The passport is a painful reminder to me of the Filipino diaspora. I respect and admire the achievements of Filipinos in other lands, but I wish our government could do its job better to keep more of us home.

Favorite Moment: Sam’s moves. This dude can dance even when he isn’t dancing.

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2013
Music & Lyrics: Thyro Alfaro, Yumi Lacsamana
Director: Toper Santos

#7 – Huwag Ka Nang Humirit

Don’t Object

I know of purists who would flinch at the seeming desecration of historical landmarks with the infusion of pop culture. I, on the other hand, do not wholly object, especially if the veritable meeting of old and new serves to suggest the importance of heritage conservation.

PH Factor: James Reid’s nocturnal romp around the Manila Central Post Office is, I think, stylishly executed, bringing to the fore, the structure’s strikingly elegant lines. The muted colors bring even greater depth and, in my opinion, some measure of respect to one of Manila’s old treasures.

Designed following the neo-classical style by Juan Arellano, Tomas Mapua and Ralph Doane, the building features imposing Ionic columns and wide, high-ceilinged spaces. Completed in 1926, it has stood for nearly a century as a mute witness to the ever vigorous flux of the life and times of ‪‎Manila‬.

Favorite Moment: That looming interior and the play of light and shadow in the hallway sequences… oh, and that smooth as silk mic tip.

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2015
Music & Lyrics: Thyro Alfaro, Yumi Lacsamana
Director: Miggy Tanchanco

#6 – Sige Lang

Just Go Ahead

This catchy tune has become the anthem of Filipinos facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, from the beleaguered Gilas Pilipinas in FIBA to the takatak boys in Divisoria.

PH Factor: Quest is the first rapper I’ve listened to who radiates such a pervasive aura of positivity. He is so infectiously upbeat that he makes the haze and turbulence of Manila life seem charming. And that is what makes this video entirely Filipino — the indefatigable cheer, the never say die attitude, the enduring hope.

Favorite Moment: Rooftop shots and the sense of conquering and rising above life’s troubles.

Bonus Trivia:

  • Manila’s LRT, featured in the video, was the first of its kind in Southeast Asia.
  • That symbol on Quest’s white cap is ka in Baybayin, a pre Hispanic Filipino system of writing.

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2012
Music & Lyrics: Quest
Director: Nolan Bernardino

#5 – Papel

Paper

There’s some excellent strings here and brilliant wordplay from a living legend singing about paper.

PH Factor: Joey Ayala has always remained true to his roots. As with all his other compositions, this one fuses indigenous elements with modern themes and digs deep into social realities.

Paper here is a representation of the constraints of society. Society defines us by the documents we posses without which we are nonentities. The song progresses into other forms of papel society requires of us to be deemed somebody, such as the predefined roles we must play, sucking up to bosses and money.

Favorite Moment: Joey rocking that T’boli Hegalong!

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2013
Music & Lyrics: Joey Ayala
Director: J.Pacena II

#4 – Dedma

Indifference

Rapper Abra redefines badassery and takes Julie Anne San Jose along for the ride. This video is not for the faint AND shallow hearted. Warning: Some blood, and lyrics prone to be misunderstood up ahead.

PH Factor: Because the lyrics and video seemingly question the existence of God, it isn’t unexpected for some citizens of this predominantly Catholic nation to feel scandalized. That however, is the misfortune of people who are quick to “Facebook” but slow to analyze.

It isn’t the loss of faith that is at the core here; it is, rather, the indifference towards the injustices in our midst despite our outward religiosity and piety. In the end, Abra drives home the point: The question of God’s existence is not the point of argument. The Being who created us gave us free will. We are responsible for our own suffering and ultimately, its resolution.

Bonus Trivia: The video was shot close to the Jones Bridge which was originally a 1921 neo-classical structure designed by Juan Arellano. It was reconstructed after World War II. Its 1875 predecessor, the Puente de España and its earlier iterations dating back to 1630 were the first to cross the Pasig River.

Favorite Moment: The gravity of the theme communicated through dark shades in mild contrast to various points of color: the pinkish jeepney light, the yellow prayer book, the bluish lights, Julie Anne’s brown hair.

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2014
Music & Lyrics: Abra & Julie Anne Sane Jose
Director: Joy Aquino

#3 – Hari ng Tondo

King of Tondo

I would equate the movie Manila Kingpin with having a massive hangover. You wake up remembering only incoherent bits and pieces of your indiscretions, and you struggle to explain how you’ve ended up in the middle of the Estero de Vitas on a raft with his royal flabbiness, ER Ejercito, impersonating a baddie half his age. The hangover gets worse when you recall Ejercito’s love scenes with Carla Abellana and Valerie Concepcion, the stuff horror movies should be made of.

This is therefore, most certainly not an endorsement of the movie. I just like the unofficial version of the music video found on the official video director’s YouTube channel.

PH Factor: Asiong Salonga was a legendary gangster who held sway over Tondo in the late 1940s and early 1950s. At one point he became one of the Philippines’ most wanted for a slew of transgressions including murder, extortion and illegal possession of firearms. Despite his life of crime, he was supposedly benevolent towards his poor neighbors, thereby earning him the moniker, Robin Hood of Tondo. He died at the age of 27.

Favorite Moment: John Regala, Roi Vinzon and Baron Geisler in character. These three were born to play mean boys so well, you’d actually find yourself rooting for them instead of Asiong.

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2011
Music & Lyrics: Gloc-9
Official MV Director: Rico Gutierrez

#2 – Lupang Hinirang

The Philippine National Anthem

Yes, I know. This isn’t a pop song, but its music video is so stunning, it had to be on this list. Despite the liberties taken for dramatic effect, GMA 7 deserves a salute for this display of patriotism.

PH Factor: The entire clip is a mini history tour: Triumph in Mactan 1521, GomBurZa Martyrdom 1872, Cry of Pugad Lawin 1896, execution of Jose Rizal 1896, the making of the Philippine Flag 1898, Declaration of Philippine Independence 1898, Battle of Tirad Pass 1899, Philippine-American War 1913, establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth 1935, Second World War 1945, EDSA Revolution 1986.

Favorite Moment: Everything except that part where folks dressed in white take us to the Mall of Asia after the revolution.

2010
Music & Lyrics: Julian Felipe & Jose Palma
Director: Paul Ticzon

#1 – Aking Pangako

My Promise

It is impossible to watch this and not feel some measure of pride, respect and admiration. This is proof that some people can be tough as nails and still be the good guys.

PH Factor: The Philippine Army traces its roots to 1897 with Aretmio Ricarte as its first general. Admittedly, the institution has drawn some flak in more recent decades for its outdated equipment and various institutional controversies. The shots in this video supposedly demonstrate how much the army has evolved.

To me however, the focal point is still the soldiers, the sacrifices they endure pushing their minds and bodies to the limit; leaving home and family behind; staring death in the face and all for a pittance. I salute the men and women of the Philippine Army.

Favorite Moment: That epic Van Damme-ish leap into the net.

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2014
Music & Lyrics: Kjwan
Director: Joaquin Valdes w/ Lt. Bala Tamayo

Did I miss any other good ones? Let me know in the comments below.

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16 Responses to Ten Best OPM Music Videos Featuring Philippine Society and Culture

  1. Halik ni Hudas is always number 1 for me despite of its music video. I dont know where basti get the lyrics of the song :D, it still amaze me. I salute to that band.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. Admittedly I don’t know any of those songs, I guess it’s been a long time since I listened to OPM but with this list you compiled, its time to add a little Pinoy touch to my playlist. 😀

  3. It has been a long time since I watched any music videos. But I see you got some interesting choices here on your list. Will take time out to watch them all. 🙂

  4. i can see why you have listed these songs in your top 10, although i hardly know any of them, save for that Eli + the gang revival perhaps. it is good to know that OPM now is making creative + good videos. thanks for sharing this list. i particularly enjoy that Joey Ayala + Sam/Tippy videos!

  5. For decades we do a lot of original chorale compositions in various Filipino languages & dialects that win various international chorale competitions. Wonder if these songs get recorded and released. Do the Madrigals and other wonderful chorale groups record their songs? The late and world renowned baton master Redentor Romero used to record Philippine classical music.

  6. Thoroughly enjoyed your article and video choices. Please highlight more OPM music and videos especially classic ones that value Pinoy creativity & musicality. Pinoys especially younger generations who have grown up outside the motherland need to know about the richness of our music & arts written by beloved national artists- past and present. There’s more to us than covering foreign songs. Thanks Ninah!

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