While many artists see music as a form of self-expression, one rising P-pop group in the country seems to deviate from this norm.
Alamat, a six-member boy group that debuted in 2021, takes its audience to the complex events of the past through its songs, urging every one of us to go back and celebrate our historical-cultural roots.
The Viva-managed boyband is composed of Taneo, Mo, R-Ji, Tomas, Alas, and Jao.
Coming from different parts of the country, they seek to create harmony in diversity and promote the majestic Philippine culture and local languages in a pop, modern way.
Official debut: singles and comebacks
When Alamat officially debuted in February 2021, the group also released its self-written debut anthem kbye, which left many people flabbergasted.
The new track is in a mix of seven local languages—Tagalog, Ilocano, Kapampangan, Bicolano, Waray-Waray, Hiligaynon, and Bisaya.
According to Ninuno Media, Alamat’s official music label, the incorporation of different languages into the song is a reflection of the group’s commitment to multilingualism.
Moreover, the seven local languages reflect the member’s native language and ethnicity.
For instance, Taneo is from Kalinga, where Ilocano is mostly spoken. Mo, despite having Black-American blood, hails from Zambales where Tagalog and Ilocano are among the dominant languages people use.
Jao can speak Kapampangan as a native resident of Pampanga; Tomas represents the Bicolano; Alas is a Bisaya from Mindanao; and R-ji embodies a Waray person of Eastern Samar.
The song captures the universality of heartbreak and of being ghosted while fusing traditional music with a hip-hop sound.
True to its mission of championing the local culture, Alamat also incorporates the traditional sound of kulintang and the rhythm pattern of tinikling, a prominent folk dance in the country.
The official music video of the song also showcases some of the defining features of Filipino culture: native prints in their streetwear, the appearance of baybayin, and a traditional jeepney.
Three months after the release of ‘kbye,’ the single already reached 1M plays, enough for the group to secure a spot in the growing P-pop industry.
After the resounding success of their debut song, the group joined a competition show Coke Studio Homecoming on ABS-CBN in May with singer-songwriter Iñigo Pascual as their partner.
During the competition, the two released a collaboration track entitled Tibay ‘Yan, which won Best Music Video at the 27th Asian Television Awards.
In July 2021, the group officially made their first comeback with their second track kasmala.
The title is an anagram of the word malakas, which means ‘strong.’
Like ‘kbye’, the second single also features different local languages.
When the music video was released on YouTube, many people were quick to commend the group’s bravery in critiquing modern-day racism as the song tackles the harmful consequences of colonialism and bigotry in society.
The video references the event that happened at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, where Filipinos were treated as animals by the West.
Within a year since their official debut, Alamat has already secured the distinction of being the second P-pop group to land on the Billboard Chart and the fastest-rising act to score a Billboard milestone.
Sophomore year: first anniversary, EP album
On the day of their first anniversary in February, Alamat released their special single ABKD as a thank you song to all Magiliws, the fandom name of the group.
In the music video, the members were seen helping a member of the Indigenous People community to pursue her dream of becoming a beauty amidst the socially unrealistic beauty standards imposed on women.
The song would later help Alamat to bag the Pop Song of the Year for Cultural Relevance award at the 7th PPOP Awards, adding another feather to the group’s cap.
In June, the group released another single track Sa Panaginip Na Lang, which showcased the powerful vocals of the members.
The song explores the concept of escapism and the desire to live in a perfect world devoid of problems and worries–an antithesis to the current present realities.
In October, the group officially unveiled their first-ever mini album entitled Pasulong, a six-track project showcasing the versatility of Alamat in the field of singing, dancing, and rapping.
The release of the mini album marked a golden era for the group as it further helped them to establish a name in the P-pop scene.
Notable songs here are ILY ILY, in collaboration with Lyca Gairanod, a song inspired by a Hiligaynon lullaby that was dedicated to the sacrifices of Filipino Overseas Workers;
Maharani, a word for ‘queen,’ was dubbed by many Magiliws as Alamat’s most prominent song.
The song fuses the traditional music of ancient instruments like kanun, gamelan, gangsa, and byeon into the vibe of R&B sound.
Aswang, the lead single of the EP, features the popular urban folklore in the country referring to a bloodsucker, shape-shifting creature that only appears at night.
In their second year as a P-pop idol group, Alamat has never failed to consistently promote Philippine culture.
From tackling the country’s colonial history, denouncing harmful beauty standards, digging into themes of urban folklore and traditional dances up to the use of ancient instruments in their pop, R&B, and ballad songs, Alamat has proven that they are indeed a champion of Filipino culture.
Third year: first concert, LP album
To kick off their third year in the industry, Alamat released its comeback upbeat single Day & Night with Tagalog, English, and Cebuano/Bisaya languages incorporated in the track.
The track’s music video features the stunning beauty of actress Jane de Leon in a mermaid outfit. De Leon pays homage to Magindaras, a mermaid creature in Bicol mythology.
The song also reflects the consistent effort of Alamat to introduce the fusion of local cultural elements and Western influences in the field of music and fashion.
In July 2023, the group announced that they would be releasing its first-ever LP album, Isapuso, in November.
ALAMAT’s creative director Jason Paul Laxamana said in a statement that the album title is a play on the words “isapuso,” which means “to take to heart,” and “isa(ng) puso,” which refers to having “one heart.”
The following month, Alamat officially unveiled its 10th digital single Walang Hanggan off their upcoming LP album.
This mid-tempo pop ballad beautifully explores the idea of saving a love deemed worth fighting for. The emotional piece once again reveals the versatility of the members in singing.
This year, the group is set to hold its very first concert in December at the New Frontier Theaters. The group announced the concert title as Dagundong last September.
Tickets opened for sale on September 15 and are available via TicketNet. Prices range from P499 for Balcony to P3,000 for SVIP.
Managing Editor: Henrick Chiu
Creative Director: Sven Gaffud
Executive Producer: Danica Rae Ulanday
Graphic Artist: Jadelyn Isiderio
Videographer: John Gabriel San Luis
Photographer: Gail Geriane
Assisted by: Jotham Meregildo & Bill Joseph Cerenado
Writer: Joshua Gerona
HMUA: Macky Hilario
Stylist: Bettina Bañez & Team
BBSTYLES Abby Abad & Randell Giel Gabayano
Avin Dela Cruz
Maria Ara May Mateo
Mark Louie Martinez
Chloe Jill Javier
Carl Angelo D. Salva
Nadia Franzene Bonaficio
Jess Rey Daraway
Ma. Tricia Rebelyn Saturnino
San Agustin Museum