Going from intra-school to national, Malayan Colleges Laguna (MCL) – B.A. Communication-Multimedia Arts’ 4th year student Rhiseo Mhonver “Mhon” P. Lopez and alumna Joana Paula “Japs” C. Concepcion surpassed thousands of entries, landed the Top 10, and won 4th Best Song in ABS-CBN’s Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs 2018 with their song “Mas Mabuti Pa.”
And it all started with trusting instincts.
Without having any plans of joining the competition this year, Mhon, who had been submitting entries every year since 2013, simply had a gut feeling about it, and submitted their entry on the last day of submission. Unlike last year, he didn’t check Himig Handog’s announcements. “Wala talagang ine-expect this year. Dumating sa point na nakalimutan na namin na nagpasa kami.”
“Hanggang sa may tumawag nalang,” who he thought was from the other contest that he joined to win a headset, “noong nalaman namin, sobrang saya! Naiyak nalang ako.” Considering the call as music to his ears, Mhon, though stunned and shaking, still managed to contact Japs. “Heto na, parang dati Musikamalayan lang.”
The duo won Musikamalayan, MCL’s official songwriting competition, in 2016, and since then, their collaboration became even stronger.
But what made their alliance interesting is the fact that Mhon’s grandmother and Japs’ father were very good friends and church mates long before Japs’ parents were together.
“Isang beses nagkita kami sa mall tapos ‘yung parents ko at ‘yung mommy niya nagbatian. Kami nagtinginan lang, hindi pa kami magkakilala,” Japs recalled. “Tapos sa MCL nalang namin nalaman.” Then their friendship started from her interpreting his songs.
A concept created in 2012, “Mas Mabuti Pa” was completed only in 2015 because of the lack of established emotion or “hugot” from that time, Mhon shared. He then tapped Japs, who was originally just to interpret the song, to enhance it. It was indeed a collaboration that happened.
Mhon added that the sentiment imparted through the song was the same feeling that he himself felt back when he was still pursuing his present girlfriend, and through his experiences Japs was able to capture the emotion to continue the song. “Lagi niyang sinasabi na nauubos na siya, ‘yun yung tumatak sakin.”
Interpreted by It’s Showtime’s Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 2 champion Janine Berdin, “Mas Mabuti Pa” also won the Star Music’s Choice Award. The results were revealed during the Himig Handog 2018 Finals last November 11.
After the competition, opportunities may be opened to Mhon and Japs, including writing an album for Janine or other artists and composing songs for movies or TV series.
“Kung may goal ka talaga sa buhay na gusto mong ma-achieve, ‘wag kang titigil. ‘Wag kang humintong mangarap kasi may perfect timing. Hindi man ngayon, hindi man bukas, pero maaaring sa susunod na araw,” Mhon advises aspiring songwriters.
Japs even encourages them to pray for guidance on where God wants them to be and to persevere even when on the verge of giving up. “Ilang beses na talaga akong ‘ayoko na.’ Feeling ko hindi para sa akin ang music, pero doon pa rin Niya ako nili-lead.”