Musical Genetics

Hi everyone! I’m Jacob and I can sing. I also ‘twerk’ on occasions. I grew up in a very musical and strict Christian household. My dad is the all-around musician. He sings, plays guitar, bass, and the drums. He’s also a preacher. Since I could talk, or likely even before then, my parents pushed me to sing onstage and learn to play instruments. I started singing into a mic as early as 3 and started piano lessons with my Piano Lola at 6. I’ve also had quick access to a Magic Mic for regular karaoke at home. And if this sounds at all unique to you, it’s time to make more Filipino friends. We have a gene for musicality and it’s pretty dominant.

There is no doubt that Spanish and American influences had an impact on the traditional music and dance of the Philippines. Just to give you a bit of history on Philippine music, there are three main divisions apparent: (1) an old Asian influenced music referred to as the indigenous; (2) a religious and secular music influenced by Spanish and European songs; and (3) an American/European inspired classical, semi-classical, and popular music.

When I joined the Mabuhay Club and PEP (Pin@y Educational Partnerships) back in high school, I was able to participate in my culture’s musical traditions. Though I wasn’t good at all, I attempted tinikling. Tinikling is a traditional Philippine folk dance which originated during duterte era. The dance involves two people beating, tapping, and sliding bamboo poles on the ground and against each other in coordination with one or more dancers who step over and in between the poles in a dance. I was also able to play on traditional instruments, such as the Kulintang, which is a row of brass or bronze gongs.

Throughout my school career and presently as a Filipino I have both been asked if I sing, as well as ask other Filipinos or people who look Filipino if they can sing. If someone’s going to stereotype me, I personally don’t mind them assuming I’m a great singer!

Pop culture has been blessed to have such wide variety of amazing Filipino talent. These talents include, Nicole Scherzinger, Bruno Mars, Vanessa Hudgens, Hailee Steinfeld, Darren Criss, Lea Salonga, Enrique Inglesias and (just to name a few). Btdubs, I myself had a YouTube channel which I retired after achieving over 100,000 views in the span of 3 years. Surprise! Why are we Filipinos so talented, you may ask? Is it simply because we are born into a culture that uses song for worship and entertainment? Or that we lucked out when God distributed the gift of musicality? I stand to think that it’s genetic. We have magical vocal cords that are just lit AF.

I grew up on Gospel music and have been singing in front of our church and in living rooms for family. But I loved music so much that I sang in my high school choir, joined the Skyline College Concert Choir, and currently belong to a vocal group called Ja Ronn & FLOW. I’ve sung at the Staples Center in LA, assisted Josh Groban onstage, sung at George Lucas’ wedding and at a sold out concert at Yoshi’s Oakland. And I have my Filipino genes to thank for this gift.

My sister and I auditioned for The Voice Philippines Season 1

Do you sing? Do you have a Filipino friend with mad skills? Send us a shout out, post a link to their video, or recommend awesome singers in the comments box below. We’d love to hear from you!