Bawat Hakbang by Karl Villuga (Grand Champion, 2012 PHILPOP Festival)

“Bawat Hakbang” was meant to win from the very start. KARL VILLUGA, singer and composer of “Bawat Hakbang,” is the 2012 Grand Champion of the first Philpop Music Festival (Metropop’s reincarnation)! I write this article as I get home after watching the Philpop Finale Concert at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

After hearing all the contestants, I knew from my heart that Karl was a strong contender simply because “Bawat Hakbang” was the most singable among all those songs. Being a musical arranger myself, I know that composers and arrangers can sometimes showcase their technical prowess by crafting song arrangements and notes that are technically innovative but not singable. The song simply had “recall.” “Hinahanap ko yung malinaw yung lyrics and nakakanta” was Eli Buendia’s response when host Ogie Alcasid asked him “Ano yung hinahanap mo sa mga kanta dito sa Philpop?”

“Bawat Hakbang” touches the heart. The song is reminiscent of “Footprints in the sand.” With every step of the way, the Almighty is there guiding you. While “Bawat Hakbang” is pop, its message resonates as sincere prayer from the heart.

While Karl’s song shows his technical acumen for harmony especially with the clever “chuwariwaps” that come in very modern chords, and incidentally are my favourite chords, the song had recall from the very start.

Thank you Karl for the honour. Karl was the one who personally sent our complementary tickets for the grand finale night. I watched the concert together with my good friend Dr. Aaron Villaraza of the UP Institue of Chemistry. Aaron is a pianist and violinist who had worked with me in various music projects.

As I was listening to the original cut of the song, the one submitted to Philpop and which Karl very kindly sent me after I promised him “Karl, hindi ko ito ipopost sa net.” I immediately wanted to play it on my piano since I knew this would be the next great hit. My hunch was proved correct!

The Philpop launch was one great starter for the reinvigoration of OPM. There have been “so many covers, so many remakes,” remarked one contestant. Maestro Ryan Cayabyab was succint when he said that “Music binds our nation together.” When Pinoys from abroad hear OPM, they immediately say that that’s music from my home and they’re somehow transported home.

This is the time for fresh blood, fresh sound, fresh soul. Karl Villuga has shown that Pinoy Pop is very much alive. It is creative and it touches the soul. We Pinoys are a soulful people and this soul touches the world. With song, we touch the lives of others.

As I wind up this article and as I listen to “Bawat Hakbang” at this very moment dabbling at my computer keyboard , I realize Philpop has shown that OPM is now at a new level. We have taken one great step forward. We will take if further one step at a time. Year after year, may the Philpop produce OPM that touches, that entertains, and that envigorates. Philpop has shown it can be done. Karl Villuga did it. Yes, we can do it sa “Bawat Hakbang.”


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