From soulful rock and roll to electronic-gong-punk and immigration-inspired rap, the Filipino diaspora in Canada are creating music you need to hear. As diverse as this range of genres, so is the place that connects them all; the Philippines. It consists of more than 7000 islands with varying cultures from north to south. Its history includes Indigenous peoples and 500 years of Spanish colonization, followed by Japanese and American occupation. The culture has evolved to reflect the layers of these influences and Filipino identity continues to evolve outside of the Philippines.
Filipinos immigrated all over the world like many in search of better opportunities. From the heart of the tropics to the snowy winters of Canada, many Filipino people landed in Canada and worked hard to create a new home. In Toronto, a non-for-profit organization called Rise Tribe is championing this generation of Filipino creatives. Rise Tribe hosts workshops and connects Filipino youth to mentors with the goal of creating leaders. Building on the successes of the Filipino-Canadian community, the non-profit has a goal of inspiring the next generation.
These Filipino-Canadian musicians are a reflection of their roots and environment, adding colourful pieces to the mural of artists from the Filipino diaspora.
Pantayomeans “for us” in tagalog. Made for and by the five-person band (Eirene Cloma, Michelle Cruz, Joanna Deloas Reyes and sister Kat and Katrina Estacio), their music crosses multiple genres. With RnB inspiration, electronic elements, and a beat carried by the kulintang— gongs that originate from the southern Philippines—Pantayo’s self-titled debut album can make you move or be reflective. While the band’s intention was to create for themselves, the success of their historical and internal exploration is magnetizing. Their album has been shortlisted for the 2020 Polaris Prize.
Edward Que, known as Lyrique, is a rap artist based in Calgary who brings a soulful and energetic delivery to his rhymes. “The more personality you bring to your music, the more people are interested in you,” he said about his creative process. The artist immigrated to Alberta as a temporary foreign worker six years ago and uses his story as inspiration for his music. His debut album, P.I.M.P. (Poetry is My Pleasure), is out now. On par with modern day heavyweights like Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, and Mac Miller, the album is a robust sonic journey loaded with his razor-sharp delivery, chill beats, and positive vibes while Que muses on life through a unique lens.
Jeremie Albino’s sound ripened on the farms of Prince Edward County in Ontario where he spent 10 years of his life. The Toronto-born musician smoothly infuses genres with soulful motown vocals to rock and roll rhythms. This summer he shared a virtual stage in Toronto with Leon Bridges and City and Colour.
Manila Grey is a duo from Vancouver, Neeko and Soliven. The two grew up together and made the kind of bassy hip-hop music perfect to blast on night drives through the city. Working with their producer, Azel North, the group’s music reaches wide audiences. They have performed sold-out shows across Canada and in some Asian countries. While the pandemic has limited their ability to tour, the duo continues to create new content and released a moody and fluorescently lit music video for their single “Night Code.”
Marylou Villegas has grown a following of more than 170,000 on Youtube with her sweet and soothing vocals. The Vancouver-based singer songwriter got her start in music after figuring out how to use her dad’s karaoke machine at a young age. Her ability to play multiple instruments highlights her vocal range in her creative covers and originals tracks.
For more information about Rise Tribe, visit them online here.