Bamboo Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Filipinos are known for their musical inclination — and it's no wonder the Philippines is called the "Home of Sing-Along".

This defining national trait is on display in many Pinoy homes: the ever-present karaoke awaits willing patrons for sessions that's also full of laughter, banter and food.

Across the length and breadth of the archipelago, sing-along joints are found virtually anywhere, from restaurants to even the most mundane street corners.

This passion is promoted on primetime TV and, in every village fiesta, singing competitions are typical fare. Many small-town songfests serve as springboards for upstarts aspiring to hit it big at The Voice, Tawag ng Tanghalan, The X Factor — and even overseas.

The passion to croon is not lost among Filipino expatriates in the UAE. Singing competitions and concerts are staged in Dubai where independent Filipino bands do front-acts.

However, there can only be a few who would make the cut for the big stage.

During their recent visit to Dubai, top Filipino singers sat down with Gulf News #Pinoy to talk about their own journey — and shared helpful tips for up-and-coming musicians.

Barbie Almalbis-Honasan

Her songs: Tabing Ilog, Torpe, Firewoman and Ambon

I think we have our own identity as a people who have been through a lot. At the same time we are a very emotional people so we are very in touch with that side of ourselves – and that really comes out in our music.

We also love stories; we are such a storytellers. We love stories so we have so many interesting things to write about. Mostly it’s about love, but there are also many songs that have been written about different aspects of life.

I think it’s more diverse than it’s ever been – a lot of genres and people are listening to them. There's really an audience for your music. It's a good time for OPM.

Don’t be afraid to pursue your own sound. Sometimes it really takes a while, so you really have to invest in your own talent, in your own music. Stick to what you really love doing, like your genre. If you’re serious and you’ll put in the work, you will become better on what you do.

There really will be people who will appreciate the music that you do. Music is something that you do to serve others. You don’t just do music for yourself, but you also think of ways to make people happy with what you do. It’s about finding the balance between those two.

It's really primarily being a music fan. I didn't start as a musician; I started out as a fan of music. That cycle of being a music fan and becoming a musician myself.

Read more #Pinoy stories in UAE

Franco Reyes

Vocalist of the band Franco, a rock band formed in 2008
Hit songs: Seasons, Last Waltz and Touch The Sky

Filipino music is one that can reach an international crowd if given a chance. There's a lot of great musicians, very talented musicians that aren't given the opportunity to play outside the country or a bigger audience. If they could be given a chance, I know that they will do pretty well because of the talents that they have.

Just keep on playing. Try to do some new material and try to play the song as best as you can.


Filipino rock icon and The Voice of the Philippines coach.
Hit songs: Awit ng Kabataan, Hallelujah, Noypi, Tatsulok, Kailan, Masaya, Himala  

Just keep the passion. Love what you do. Don't measure yourself with anything else – just the passion and love. Just be happy about that.

Keep listening to a lot of stuff, that's what’s important. You have to keep evolving and changing.