Korean by blood, Filipino at heart » Manila Bulletin Entertainment


“I Love OPM’s” Grand Touristar and newly-minted Star Music artist Yohan Hwang proves how much he loves the Philippines

As long and winding as Yohan Hwang’s road to releasing his eponymous album was, it doesn’t seem like it’ll take him long to become a bona fide star.

‘Yohan Hwang’

The new album is composed of nine radio-ready tracks bound to earn a place on many a music lover’s playlist. Also, it doesn’t hurt that he can work a crowd like it’s nobody’s business.

When he met with the press at the album launch last July 25, Yohan won them over easily with his charm and, of course, his impeccable singing voice – both of which helped him win on ABS-CBN’s televised singing contest “I Love OPM” in 2016.

As one of Yohan’s prizes was a record deal with Star Music, he spent some time in recording studios after his big win, working on new material under the supervision of producer Rox Santos.

Eventually, Yohan released two versions of the Sugarfree original “Wag Ka Nang Umiyak” – one in Filipino and another in Korean. Both were released on Spotify and other digital music platforms fairly quickly, but his fans had to wait a year and a half for his album to drop.

“Nagustuhan nina Sir Roxy Liquigan and Tita Malou Santos ng Star Music ’yung ginawa naming pag-translate ng isang OPM song into Korean. Kaya naisip nila na gawing ganu’n ang concept ng magiging album ni Yohan. OPM songs lahat, but bawat track may Filipino at Korean versions. Medyo natagalan lang ’yung pag-release dahil sa schedule ni Yohan,” explained Rox, who added that Yohan took charge of adapting the OPM songs himself.

“Binigyan nila ako ng Filipino songs which I translated into English. Then I asked some professional Korean songwriters for help. Fifty-fifty kami. We did real collaboration work,” Yohan said. “It was also like that when it came to choosing the songs that would be part of the album. I picked half and the other half were songs recommended to me by Star Music.”

“Sabi ni Yohan sa akin at the time na walang direct translation ang ibang Filipino words sa English or Korean,” shared Rox. “So sinigurado nila ng mga tumulong sa kanya mag-translate na kahit hindi direct translation ang ginawa nila, na-capture pa rin nila ’yung essence nu’ng original.”

Yohan is full-blooded Korean, but he’s fluent enough in Filipino to translate OPM hits into English. Yohan picked up the language in the three years he spent pursuing a degree in Education at La Salle College Antipolo.

‘Yohan Hwang’ album cover (mb.com.ph)

‘Yohan Hwang’ album cover

“My Dad is a Christian missionary. He invited me to come here for a vacation and dinala niya ako sa Antipolo. Nagandahan ako sa lugar kaya I decided to stay here. Nu’ng pumasok ako sa college, tinuruan ako ng mga kaklase ko kumanta ng Filipino songs, like ‘Ako’y Sa’Yo, Ika’y Akin.’ When they heard me sing, they encouraged me to keep singing. They told me I should join a contest, which is why I auditioned for ‘I Love OPM,’” he said. “I didn’t expect that I would become a singer in this country. When I look back on my journey, I feel happy and thankful.”

Yohan isn’t the first Korean to establish a career in the Philippine showbiz scene. But he says he’s nothing like Ryan Bang and Sandara Park.

“I’m looking forward to doing another album under Star Music after this one. OPM singer ako. I think I’m the first Korean OPM singer sa Pilipinas. Ryan is a comedian. Puro comedy ang ginagawa niya sa ‘Banana Sundae’ and ‘It’s Showtime.’ Si Sandara naman was more of an actress when she was based here. Magkaka-iba talaga kaming tatlo.”

His “I Love OPM” stint was actually his second attempt at stardom. When he was younger, he tried and failed to join a singing competition in Korea. He’s still open to having a career over there, but for now he says his focus is mostly on growing his fanbase in the Philippines.

Aside from releasing music by himself, Yohan hopes to work with OPM legends Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera, and Ogie Alcasid someday. He looks forward to collaborating with Bugoy Drilon, Jona and Morissette.

Yohan’s album – which features Filipino and Korean versions of the songs “Ikaw,” “Kung Ako Na Lang Sana,” “You’ve Made Me Stronger,” and “Mahal Ko O Mahal Ako” – is already available for streaming on all digital music platforms in the Philippines. It’s also set to drop on Melon, South Korea’s biggest online music store, a fact that will go a long way towards helping him make a name there.

Yohan with Rox Santos (mb.com.ph)

Yohan with Rox Santos

“Posible po ’yun, lalo na po ’pag lumabas na sa Melon ’yung mga singles niya. Meron po tayong mga digital plans and marketing para mas ma-push natin ’yung songs niya sa Korea,” Rox revealed.

“Maybe I can go back and forth from Korea to Manila, like Sandara does. Honestly, I had an offer to guest in a Korean show, last year pa, medyo matagal na. But I was very busy then so I had to turn the offer down. Pero someday, maybe I’ll get the chance to do something like that,” Yohan shared.

That said, Yohan is becoming more and more Filipino every day. He’s proof that one doesn’t need to have Filipino blood to love the Philippines. At his album launch, he expressed his desire to become a member of the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM), the country’s leading and most respected group of Filipino professional singers.

“Why not?” he asked. “Even though Korean ako, pwede naman siguro akong sumali doon. Pusong Pinoy kasi talaga ako.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

All Credit Goes There : Source link