Philippine Music Contains a Mixture of Western and Eastern Influence

Philippine music are performance arts composed in various genre, and styles of popular music. These include Rock and Roll, Hip Hop, and Pop music ranging from Western, and Eastern influence. The music of the Philippines is a mixture of Primitive, European, and American.



Kulintang refers to a racked gong chime instrument played in the southern islands of the Philippines, along with its varied accompanying ensembles. Upon the Spanish arrival in the 16th century, Kulintang ensembles were the musical instruments of the Muslim Filipinos. Due to Hispanization of the majority of the Philippine population, only the Moro ethnic groups of southern Mindanao, and the Sulu archipelago retained their Islamic musical tradition. The Kulintang instrument is also found in other Southeast Asian countries.

Harana and Kundiman

The Harana or Kundiman is a lyrical song made popular in the Philippine Islands, which dates back to the Spanish period. Composed in the Mexican-Spanish tradition, the music is characterized by a minor key at the beginning and shifts to a major key in the second half. Its lyrics depict a romantic theme, usually portraying love, passion, or sadness. In other styles of the Harana or Kundiman tradition, the music is based on a love story. Almost all traditional Philippine love songs in this genre are portrayed with poetic emotion.

philippine music kulintang
In the 1920s Harana or Kundiman became a much more mainstream musical style, with many popular performers including Diomedes Maturan, and Ruben Tagalog singing in Harana or Kundiman style.


The Cariñosa (meaning loving or affectionate one), is a Philippine national dance from the María Clara suite of Philippine folk dances, where the fan, and handkerchief plays an instrument role as it places the couple in romance scenario. The dance is similar to the Jarabe Tapatío. The Cariñosa is accompanied with Hispanic music, and language.


The Rondalla is performed in ensembles comprising mandolin instruments of various sizes called bandurria composed on the Iberian tradition. Other instruments including guitars, are also performed.


The Tinikling is a Philippine dance which involves two individual performers hitting bamboo poles, using them to beat, tap, and slide on the ground, and against each other in co-ordination with one or more dancers who step over, and in between poles.


Original Pilipino Music, now more commonly termed Original Pinoy Music or Original Philippine Music, (frequently abbreviated to OPM) originally referred only to Philippine pop songs, especially those in the ballad form, such as songs popularized in the 1970s through the present by major commercial Philippine pop music artists like Pilita Corrales, VST & Co., Ryan Cayabyab, Kuh Ledesma, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Martin Nievera, Basil Valdez, Rey Valera, Regine Velasquez, Sarah Geronimo, Sharon Cuneta, Lea Salonga, and APO Hiking Society.

OPM pop has also been regularly showcased in the live band scene. Groups such as the Neocolors, Side A, True Faith, Passage, Freestyle, and 3rd Avenue popularized songs that clearly reflect the sentimental character of OPM pop.

In the passage of time as well as the development of many diverse and alternative musical styles in the Philippines, however, the term OPM now refers to any type of Original Philippine Music created in the Philippines or composed by individuals of Philippine extraction, regardless of location at the time when composed. The lyrics may be in any Philippine languages or dialect.


For the past 20 years, OPM have been located in Manila, where Tagalog, and English are the dominant languages. Other ethnolinguistic groups such as the Visayan, Bikol, and Kapampangan, despite making music in their native languages are not recognized in the OPM category, except in phenomenal cases like the Bisrock (Visayan Rock music) song "Charing" by Davao band 1017.

Multiculturalism advocates, and federalists often connect this to the Tagalog cultural hegemony of the capital city of Manila.

Having successfully created a sub-genre of Philippine Rock they called Bisrock, the Visayans by far have the biggest collection of modern music in their native language, with great contributions from Visayan bands Phylum, and Missing Filemon.

Despite the growing clamor for non-Tagalog, and non-English Philippine music, and greater representations of other Philippine languages; the local Philippine music industry, which is located in Manila, is still skeptical in making investments. Some of their major reasons include the language barrier, the still-small market, and the demonization of regionalism in the Philippine Islands.


Philippine rock musicians added folk music, and other influences, helping to lead to the 1978 breakthrough success of Freddie Aguilar. Aguilar's "Anak" (Child), his debut recording, is the most commercially successful Filipino recording, and was popular throughout Asia, and Europe, and has been translated into numerous languages by singers worldwide.

The influence of New Wave was also felt during these years, spearheaded by The Dawn. The 1990s saw the emergence of a superstar pop-rock group, the Eraserheads, considered by many Philippine nationals as the number one group in the Philippine recording scene. In the wake of their success was the emergence of a string of influential Filipino rock bands such as Yano, Siakol, Parokya ni Edgar, and Rivermaya, each of which mixes the influence of a variety of rock sub-genres into their style.

The Neo-Traditional genre in Philippine music is also gaining popularity, with artists such as Joey Ayala, Grace Nono, Bayang Barrios, Cocojam, and Pinikpikan, reaping relative commercial success while utilizing the traditional musical sounds of many Indigenous tribes in the Philippines.

Today, the Philippine Islands exhibits western style music, producing notable bands such as PUPIL, Sponge Cola, Bamboo, Silent Sanctuary, Rocksteddy, Kjwan, Kamikazee, Cueshe, Itchyworms, Vinyard, Valley of Chrome, Clap Your Hands, Imago, Hale, The Ambassadors, and others.


A number of other genres are growing in popularity in the Philippine music scene, including a number of alternative groups, and tribal bands promoting cultural awareness of the Philippine Islands.

Also, there is a thriving, and active heavy metal, and hardcore scenes all across the Philippines. Although still mainly in the underground, the emergence of various online organizations, productions, and record labels has been slowly bringing them into popularity as various bands now have their albums on the store shelves of major record bars, and outlets.

Latest Headlines