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How Tim Pavino’s goal to promote Visayan pop reignited his fire for music

VisPop or Visayan Pop is popular in Visayas and Mindanao. However, for recording artist Tim Pavino – who rose to fame via “The Voice Of The Philippines” season two in 2014 – it’s more than a genre of music.

Tim Pavino

Singing VisPop is how he reconnects with his roots, particularly his late father, who died of lung cancer when Tim was three years old. That’s why Tim didn’t need to think twice about recording and releasing his own VisPop songs when the opportunity came along.

“Puslan Man,” Tim’s first VisPop single, is a collaboration with Jude Gitamondoc, a Cebu-based composer who was a finalist in the 2014 Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs songwriting competition. Tim spent most of his formative years abroad, but he took to VisPop like fish to water thanks to his father and paternal grandparents.

“My grandfather was an immigration officer who was stationed in Davao for 20 years. My father grew up there, so he learned to speak the Visayan language. He and my grandmother would sing ‘Usahay’ together all the time because it’s one of her favorite songs,” Tim explained. “So even though I don’t have any Visayan blood myself, I have a lot of love and respect for the Visayan people and their language.”

Tim grew up around the Visayan language but he never tried tapping into it until now. It all began when some fans from Davao got in touch with him after his stint on “The Voice Of The Philippines.”

“They messaged me and said they know my Lola Rosie, and sana daw I could perform there someday,” he recalled. “When I toured all over the country with some of my fellow contestants to promote the album we did together, I realized I do have a market there and in Cebu as well.”

So late last year, when Tim found himself with some spare time on his hands, he decided to do something special for all his Visayan-speaking fans.

“There’s a song called ‘Pero Atik Ra’ and it’s about a girl who thinks there’s something going on between her and this guy, but pinaglaruan lang pala siya nu’ng guy. At the time, I wasn’t promoting anything, so I thought I’d cover it. I asked my friends Kiko Salazar and Miko Dacanay to help me. Kiko, a composer who worked on Morissette Amon’s first album, played the piano for me. Miko, who usually does my grooming, shot the video. It was a live cover, one take lang. We filmed it in Kiko’s place.”

Doors open

When Tim posted the video online, he didn’t think it would go viral, but it did. In fact, his cover of “Pero Atik Ra” became so popular that it caught the attention of the song’s composer, who turned out to be Jude.

“He messaged me in Bisaya because he thought I could really speak the language, but I wrote him back in Tag-lish and explained that while I love and appreciate it, I’m not as fluent as other people. He was shocked to hear that. Apparently I sang ‘Pero Atik Ra’ so well that Jude and most everyone who watched the video thought I was fluent in Bisaya.”

The question of his fluency aside, Jude was so impressed with what Tim did that he asked to work with him on some new material. “He said, ‘We should do something together if ever you’re in Cebu.’ I told him, ‘If you have a song for me to sing and if you need me to go there, I will.’ Ako na ang nag-offer na puntahan siya.”

So it was that Tim and Jude recorded and released three VisPop songs for the benefit of Kadasig, a group of producers and songwriters that aim to promote VisPop by releasing one VisPop song a month. They began doing so in February this year.

“Sabi ni Jude sa akin wala silang budget. But I didn’t care because I wanted to do it for free. I did it without expecting anything in return because I see how powerful their advocacy can be. I really want them to flourish,” Tim says earnestly.

Artist that unifies genres

According to Tim, this project came along when he was starting to question his identity as a singer. Meeting Jude and working with Kadasig gave him a new purpose and reignited his passion for music.

“When I released my first album, I was hailed ‘Prince Of The New OPM’ and I’ve been trying to process that ever since,” Tim said earnestly. “I’ve been wondering why they called me that and what that title means to me. Now, with this project, I’m thinking maybe I can be the artist that unifies genres and languages. Maybe I can help bring Visayan music to a wider audience. I’d love to do that. It’s still OPM, after all, and if I’m going to be ‘Prince of the New OPM,’ I want to uplift OPM, no matter what language the songs are in.”

Tim is also set to drop “Ikaw Ang Akong Tanan,” a new song written by Jude, and his cover of “Pero Atik Ra.” But so far, only “Puslan Man” is available on Spotify. Its music video – which has English subtitles for the benefit of those who don’t know the Visayan language – is up on Kadasig’s official Facebook page.

Eventually, all of Tim’s VisPop songs will be available on iTunes, with all proceeds going to Kadasig.

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