Songwriter Jonathan Manalo considers his “Pinoy Big Brother” (PBB) theme song “Pinoy Ako” as his biggest hit, since the song has become some sort of an anthem for many, he admits.
“Kahit hindi sa PBB, nagagamit na siya sa [Southeast Asian] Games, every time na may Pinoy pride. Saka kinakanta ng lahat ng ages, kahit ng foreigners, aware sila sa song,” Manalo said during his solo live face-to-face press conference last Monday, May 16, for his concert in October, to mark his 20th anniversary in the songwriting business.
(Even outside PBB, it’s being used in the SEA Games, every time Pinoy pride [is on a high]. Also, it is being sung by people of all ages, even foreigners, they are aware of the song.)
Manalo recalled that the reality TV show was not yet being launched when director Lauren Dyogi talked to him about writing a theme song for the show.
“May theme na kasi ang Big Brother na international franchise, kaya lang hindi siya masyadong akma para sa atin. Sabi ni direk Lauren, mag-localize tayo. Kailangang makuha natin ‘yung flavor ng Pinoy,” he said.
(There’s already a theme for Big Brother, the international franchise, but it’s not fit for us. Direk Lauren said, let’s localize. We need to capture the Filipino flavor.)
Manalo believes that “Pinoy Big Brother” is different from the international version.
“Mas naka-focus sa values ng mga Filipino, mas family-oriented, mas nationalistic, mas may pagmamahal sa bayan, sa pamilya. Doon na nabuo ang lyrics, kung paano tayo magkakaiba pero nagkakaisa,” he explained.
(We are more focused on Filipino values., more family-oriented, more nationalistic, there is more love for country, for the family. That is from where the lyrics were formed, how we can all be different but united.)
When asked what song best represents him, Manalo’s answer was quick: “Tara Tena.” He sees the song as something that encapsulates his passion for his craft and his concerns for various things, such as the country.
“Mahal ko ang bayan natin (I love our country). ‘Yung ‘Tara Tena’ is speaking about that, kung paano magiging involved ang kabataan sa pagbabagong kailangan natin (how the youth can be involved in the changes that we need to accomplish),” he explained.
“Hangang ngayon, hindi nagbabago ang heart ko. Kung ano ang sinasabi ng kantang iyon, iyon pa rin ako,” he said. (Until now, my heart has not changed. What the song says, that is still who I am.)
Known as Mr. Music, Manalo will come out with an all-star 20th anniversary double album, a musical called “Lyric & Beat,” and a special collaboration project with missionary visual artist Kristine Lim, a first-of-its-kind music and arts fusion project. JB