United by OPM

Nerissa de Juan: "OPM embodies the way Filipinos express their emotions and voice their sentiments."


To soprano Nerissa de Juan, Original Pilipino Music is mostly made up of Filipino pop songs, particularly ballads, that embody the way Filipinos express their emotions and voice their sentiments. She added, “OPM doesn’t need to be patriotic. It can be about any topic. For me, OPM is a way of uniting Filipinos into one spirit.”

Along with another soprano, Kay Balajadia Liggayu, and tenor Jan Briane Astom, with accompanying artist Paul Casiano, she is among the featured artists in the dinner-concert “OPM Revisited: Mga Awit na May Hugot” on Oct. 14 at Gourmet Gypsy Art Café. The restaurant at 25 Roces Ave., Brgy. Paligsahan, Quezon City.

De Juan trained in music starting at age 9. She learned basic vocal techniques from her church choir organist. She became a choir soloist at 16. She pursued a bachelor’s degree in music, major in voice, under Prof. Ligaya B.G. Quinitio at the New Era University College of Music. She made her professional operatic debut as Maria Clara in Felipe Padilla de Leon’s Noli Me Tangere: The Opera in February last year at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. She was only 19 years old then.

Since then, de Juan has joined masterclasses facilitated by Anna Migallos, world-renowned soprano and vocal pedagogue, Nelly Miricioiu-Kirk and Prof. Susan Waters of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She is continuing her studies in vocal performance at the University of Santo Tomas under Gloria Dizon-Coronel as a grantee of the Original Pilipino Performing Arts Foundation Scholarship Grant.

She considers the song “Ang Huling El Bimbo” by The Eraserheads as embodying the spirit of OPM “because it is that kind of song anyone can sing along with whenever it plays. It is so familiar to most Filipinos. A lot of us consider it as part of our jam. When I was in high school, my classmates and I usually sang this song along with the guitar and beatbox. During those moments I really feel that all of us are united through music.”

De Juan performing at Rizal Park


She cites the Aiza Seguerra song “Pakisabi Na Lang” as rich in hugot (heart and guts). She says, “It talks about a person who has been secretly in love with someone but doesn’t have the guts to tell his/her feelings. In my opinion, hugot doesn’t have specific qualities. It depends on the person on how they relate hugot based on their personal experiences.”

De Juan’s favorite OPM singers are Regine Velasquez, Aicelle Santos and Sarah Geronimo. She describes them as “all outstanding artists with distinct styles. They interpret their songs uniquely.”

Her own favorite OPM songs are “Araw Gabi” and “Kailan.” She says these are easy to listen to, adding, “I also like Lara Maigue’s composition ‘Tulog Na’ because it has a beautiful melody and accompaniment. It also speaks of unconditional love, something that caught my heart upon hearing it for the first time.”

She predicts that “OPM: Revisited” will be a heart-warming concert not only because “the language that will be used for the songs is our own but also because these songs are the ones we grew up hearing. These songs will give us that kind of nostalgia effect that will take us back to those good old days and make us reminisce a lot.”

Asked what kind of spin or interpretation will she give the songs she will sing, she answered, “I guess I will try to make my own rendition of the song and make it something closer to my personality. There is this one song that I haven’t performed but have heard a lot of times. Maybe the challenge of this song for me is the interpretation of it because I haven’t encountered any experience related to the song. But I’m up for the challenge. I am excited to work on it!”

Dinner at Gourmet Gypsy Art Cafe starts at 6 p.m. followed by the concert at 7:30. For tickets, call the Cultural Arts Events Organizer at 0918-347-3027, 782-7164 and 0920-9540053 or email [email protected] Part of the proceeds will go to the survivors of Typhoon Ompong in Baguio City.

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