ALAMAT: The Next Legends of P-Pop
Introducing ALAMAT, a sing-rap-dance octet trained under Viva Records, aims to spread culture and multilingual diversity atop the P-Pop music scene.
The year is 2003. You’re in your room, and there was no such thing as Covid19 or community lockdown. You flip through the FM stations one after the other and finally settle into your favorite radio station; hoping to find the song you're always looking forward to hearing. The song plays at last! It is the all-time Pinoy favorite song called “The Spaghetti Song” by a popular girl group, Sex Bomb. Yes! The one you've heard over and over but you can never get enough of. The go-to dance song you performed countless times at your friends’ birthdays and Christmas parties. Ah yes, the good days when people get together to celebrate and enjoy Original Pinoy Music (OPM).
It is now 2021, and the pandemic-enforced isolation has led many of us to face anxiety. You switch on your phone in the hope of getting rid of the emotional distress that develops inside and browse through your Spotify’s daily top recommendations. Something's got your eye on — a pink-glowing Gulaman jug with a word that reads ALAMAT.
You play the song and immediately notice a very catchy melody that makes you nod your head involuntarily. You throw out a gasp of “Shocks ang ganda!” [Damn! This is good!] and share it with your best friend to ask if she knows the song in which she replies “Yes! It’s the debut song of a rookie P-pop boy band called ALAMAT” wherein later you discover that the band sings in multilingual and promotes Filipino culture.
The feeling of excitement that you have not felt for some time rushes in and there is nothing more you want than knowing them now.
ALAMAT in the Making
Back in 2020, Viva Entertainment and Ninuno Media started a nationwide search for talent called “PWEDE!” to find members of their next boyband project that will be called ALAMAT. The concept of ALAMAT is to be a multilingual P-Pop group, and for this, trainees had to pass not just singing and dancing but also language proficiency exams.
The name “Alamat” was made to represent their goals to be legendary and creative, but it can also mean someone who has mastered their craft, making them a legend. Viva management culled 9 members out of hundreds who submitted their online entries since the coronavirus outbreak led Pwede’s nationwide mall auditions to a halt.
“Around last year ng summer nag start kami ng training, online first tapos naging [onsite] training as we live together in one house” says Taneo, one of ALAMAT’s leaders. “Nag start kami mag training [sa Manila] nuong July, nagkita-kita na kami rito to do the intensive trainings.” added Pinunong [leader] Mo.
On November 5th of 2020, ALAMAT was then introduced to the world.
The group is the embodiment of the phrase "Proud to be Pinoy." Although the group is innovated based on Kpop elements as they're applying the same commercial formula popularized by Korean pop groups, their concept is meant to "counter Kpop" in a non-ethnocentric way, according to their management. If you look closely at their logo, you'll see it's written in pre-Hispanic script. Even in ALAMAT's clothing, the cultural references embedded in their designs to promote Filipino elements in their daily fashion are evident.
ALAMAT made its debut with 9 members. However, with the departure of Alamat Kin, the P-pop group now continues as a solid 8-piece band.
The Arrival of ALAMAT
With the release of their debut single "kbye" on February 14th of this year, the P-pop boy group shows the rich colors of the country’s diversity through their performance. From their lyrics, heritage-filled aesthetics, use of Filipino musical instruments, and outfits, ALAMAT breathes Filipino pride into their hard work.
Since they originated from various Philippine regions, the members use this chance to sing in their mother tongues, seen through “kbye.” Their first single was written using the seven other major languages in the Philippines: Tagalog, which comprises a majority of the music, and a verse each using the Ilocano, Kapampangan, Bicolano, Waray, Hiligaynon, and Bisaya languages.
The support for the group quickly grew, and soon, they had Magiliw as their official fandom name. The name means “being mapagmahal” or “affectionate” and shows the love the fans share with the members of ALAMAT.
However, it didn’t stop there. Multiple award-winning actress and singer, Ms. Lea Salonga herself even shared on both Facebook and Twitter the 'kbye' music video three days after it was released, calling it “FABULOUS.”
They continued to rise, even making it to Billboard’s Next Big Sound charts, and this is felt like the fastest Filipino act to enter the list. ALAMAT ranked as second on the Pandora Predictions Chart and is seen to be tomorrow’s stars. You’ll find “kbye” on Spotify’s “Fresh Finds” playlist. With the unyielding support of Magiliw, the group made it to the MYX charts, ranking 6th in the February 24th Daily Top 10.
ALAMAT has a goal, and they will stop at nothing to reach it.
ALAMAT's Harmony Knows No Cultural Boundaries
Each member is a representative from different cultures. We have Taneo from Kalinga, Tomas from Bicol, Valfer from Negros Occidental, Jao from Pampanga, Gami from Bohol, Mo a half-Filipino, and half-Black American from Zambales, R-Ji a Waray-Waray from Eastern Samar and Alas a Mindanawon and Bisaya from Davao City.
How do all these boys find common ground despite all the differences? In an interview, Mo explained, "I guess the most challenging part of being in a group is how we come from different backgrounds. Diversity is hard because there are different cultures for every person, and we have to learn how to adjust to everyone."
Tomas even shared an experience he had when meeting R-Ji, "I was worried because he didn't use "po" and "opo" but then I found out it wasn't in their culture to do it. So that's why I need to learn all these things because I wasn't aware that such culture exists."
However, the members of ALAMAT took this opportunity to learn about the regions of the Philippines. They embraced their unique and beautiful cultural differences, pushing through to create great chemistry among the group. Valfer even learned how to say "I love you" in all their different local languages!
All members of ALAMAT are familiar with the issues our society is currently facing. They're a group that opposes racial discrimination. Mo, their leader, has even made a rap song titled "Racial Discrimination," where he questions people's tendency to compare each other's skin colors and encourages Filipinos not to be ashamed of their identity.
What's Next for ALAMAT?
So what's next for our boys? As much as they want to reveal their upcoming songs, they simply cannot. Gami, the main vocalist, shared, "You've already seen that our first song was multilingual, so expect that our next song will also be multilingual but what you don't know is that we still have many twists. We are experimenting with different types of music."
One of ALAMAT's goals is to promote Filipino culture and make Filipinos proud of their own identity, which is why they manifest this in their multilingual lyrics.
When asked how vital local languages are in the industry, Mo said, "It's very important because it gives life again to the languages that are being forgotten. Like to the young children who haven't learned, or they're not familiar with their mother tongue." "Local languages are very beautiful and unique; you don’t have to strip off your identity. For us, identity is culture, and part of that is our languages. If we express those through our music, wouldn’t it be so beautiful and something we can be proud of?" added Jao, the youngest member of the group.
ALAMAT strives to achieve all its goals every day, and they want to thank their fans for always supporting them, giving them inspiration and motivation. Jao even says that he looks through social media to see all the heartwarming posts when he's tired.
On Taneo, Top: @piopio_ph Layer & Bottom: @oriasstudios. On Mo, Layer: @piopio_ph Top: @wethepeople.ph Pants: stylist’s wardrobe, Accessories: stylist’s wardrobe, artist's own. On Jao, Top: @piopio_ph Layer & Bottom: @oriasstudios, Shoes & Accessories: stylist’s wardrobe. On Tomas: Layer: @piopio_ph, Top: @wethepeople.ph, Pants & accessories: stylist’s wardrobe Shoes: Artist's own. On Valfer, Top: @piopio_ph, Bottom & Accessories: stylist’s wardrobe, Shoes: artist's own. On R-ji, Layer: Chris Diaz, Top: @wethepeople.ph, Bottom: @piopio_ph, Shoes: artist's own, Accessories: stylist’s wardrobe. On Gami, Layer: @oriasstudios, Top: stylist’s wardrobe Bottom: @piopio_ph, Shoes: artist's own, Accessories: stylist’s wardrobe. On Alas, Layer: @oriasstudios, Top: @wethepeople.ph, Bottom & Accessories: stylist’s wardrobe, Shoes: artist's own.
There's the talent, the supportive fans, and the teamwork — but it's their diverse culture and their bid to boost national pride atop the P-pop mainstream that make ALAMAT's music even stronger. The band's message is essentially true at a time when we are all trying to find ways to connect, even if physically distant. And if there's one thing that's certain, even in the most uncertain times, it's that ALAMAT isn't going to stop giving their fans something to get together for while taking pride in their Filipino roots.
---- Watch ALAMAT's exclusive interview with PARCINQ here:
---- Words by Argus Persa
Produced by Philip Vargas
Photography by Rxandy Capinpin
Art Direction, Final Art, & Video editing by Joe Andy
Videography by Christina Zabat
Grooming by Kirt Dinaliso & Kim Roy Opog
Hair by Jay Wee
Styling by Team Ryuji Shiomitsu (Paul Sese, Bryan Laroza)
Calligraphy Art by Ian Cartalaba
Special thanks to Direk Jason Laxamana, Viva Records, and Ryan Tan of Presidential Car Museum.