World Mental Health Day: Words and Songs from OPM Acts that Echo Familiarity and Hope

Oct 10, 2020

In today’s pandemic-stricken world, it’s not only Covid-19 that humankind is battling. With immense feelings of uncertainty crippling our collective consciousness, a growing number of people are succumbing to anxiety. And worse, the impact on our mental health could outlast the disease itself.

Covid-19 and mental health

Living far from loved ones. Losing sources of income. Being all alone. These are just some of the depressing situations that the pandemic has aggravated. And the numbers highlight how Covid-19 is taking a toll on Filipinos’ mental health.

Even before the public health crisis, the Philippines already has one of the highest rates of depression among Southeast Asian countries according to  The ASEAN Post. In  the same report, they revealed that the National Center for Mental Health has received more reports when quarantine restrictions were imposed in March. 

From March to May 2020, their hotlines have recorded 953 average monthly calls — which is 138% higher than the monthly average for May 2019 to February 2020. This is apart from the calls that they receive that are related to suicide. As of May 2020, they received an average of 45 suicide-related calls in a month. 

Musicians as mental health advocates

Listening to music, whether it’s a new song or an already familiar track, can help improve one’s mood. However, hearing a piece that’s specifically written to resonate familiarity and to express hope certainly provides a deeper, more meaningful impact to listeners.

This World Mental Health Day, we at Wish 107.5 are taking part in this noble commemoration by giving the spotlight on the role of musicians as mental health advocates. Here are compelling words and songs from OPM acts to help you get through these unsteady times. 

“The Silence,” The Itchyworms

A track from their quarantine-produced album “Waiting for the End to Start,” “The Silence” is an apt depiction of living in an era of physical — and emotional — isolation. For their metaphor-heavy music video, the group tied up with Hopeline, an organization that provides help to people with mental health concerns. 

On the song’s advocacy: 

“Para siyang experience ng lahat ng tao or ilang percent ng tao sa Pilipinas — kung ano ‘yung buhay natin during the quarantine. Kasi first time lang nangyari sa atin ito eh. ‘Yung pag-ikot ng electric fan… dati hindi mo siya mapapansin eh. Pero ngayon, kahit ‘yung maliliit na ganon, napapansin mo na,” remarked The Itchyworms’ Jugs Jugueta.

Lead guitarist Chino Singson added: “Siguro, part no’ng capturing the mundane, parang gusto namin sana mag-raise ng awareness din… Tama ‘yung dine-describe ni Jazz [Nicolas] na there are two kinds of people — there are people who are never alone, there are people who are always one. Ang masasabi namin, bilang PSA is, check up on your friends. Lalo na ‘yung mga mag-isa sa bahay no’ng mga nakaraan na quarantine.”

[READ: The Itchyworms Make Noise For Mental Health Awareness With ‘The Silence’]

“This Too Shall Pass,” Rico Blanco

In “This Too Shall Pass,” Rico Blanco overcomes the difficulty of living and making music alone. The process of producing the song itself is an embodiment of the musician’s faithfulness to his craft. Add the message to the mix, and the outcome is an anthem that sparks encouragement in different levels.

On the song’s inception:

“This has been one of the most difficult songs for me to produce because my mind really wasn’t there. I was really focused on just getting by day to day. Also, the fear of the unknown. So, for the first, about 20 days of the lockdown, it was the farthest thing from my mind. 

But I guess one day, it just all swelled up from inside me: I hadn’t been able to give a message to the front-liners and the essential workers. 

Between the initial idea and actually releasing the song, there were still several moments where I thought like I wasn’t gonna be able to finish it… because nga mahirap ‘yung situation dito sa bahay, relatively… Compared to all the other songs that I’ve recorded, this one is kind of difficult. I did everything alone, by myself, with a household to take care of. I’m going to look back at this song years from now and I think I’ll be very proud of myself for pulling through.”

“Wag Ka Nang Umiyak,” Ebe Dancel

Performing this classic tune aboard the Wish Bus under the “new normal” set up, Ebe Dancel offers a sanctuary for the troubled. “Wag Ka Nang Umiyak” is earnest and affecting — and its strength lies in the universality of its theme: a love that consoles, a love that doesn’t abandon.

On dealing with grief and anxiety:

“I believe that we have very different ways of dealing with grief. ‘Yung nararamdaman ninyo na you wake up in the middle of the night and then you start worrying about everything and nothing; or there are days when you wake up and then you just don’t know what to do, you forget what day it is — nangyayari po sa akin ‘yan. And it really happens to a lot of people. As an advocate, I always believe that we should reach out to people we trust. Maybe your husband, your wife, your family, your friend. And I also believe that if you think, you know, it’s something that’s repetitive in nature, it’s always best to consult someone. 

Ngayon, I start each day na with the Bible. There’s an app on your phone that you can download. The moment I wake up, that’s the first thing that I do. I go to my verse, and then I pray. I really, really pray, because, you know, Someone’s always going to listen. I’ve found that in my experience — it really helps a lot.”

“Manalangin,” The Juans

The Juans may be best known for their anthems for the romantically broken-hearted. But in “Manalangin,” the gents of the pop-rock outfit use their gift of music to shine the spotlight on a weightier subject: The power of prayers. 

On using their craft as a platform for positivity: 

“Itong song was conceived in the middle of lockdown. We just felt in our hearts to encourage everyone to pray para sa situation natin. We felt like it’s our role to use our platform to encourage people to pray. Because we believe that prayer is powerful.”

“Sabi ‘dun sa kanta, ‘lilipas din at matatapos din ang dilim.’ Note that in this situation, marami sa atin ang worried, maaaring ‘yung iba hopeless, going through anxiety. But we would just want to encourage you na gaya ng lahat ng mahabang tunnel, may liwanag pa rin sa dulo n’yan at matatapos din ang dilim,” shared The Juans’ Carl Guevarra.

“Umagang Kay Ganda,” Barbie Almalbis

One of the most enduring Pinay rock icons, Barbie Almalbis breathes life to the timeless — and timely — tune, “Umagang Kay Ganda.” Her rendition exudes optimism and is a fitting addition to her catalog of work, which bears her signature sweet-and-wistful style.

On the joy of remaking a hopeful song:

“Written by Butch Montserrat, ‘Umagang Kay Ganda’ is a beautiful song and it has a timeless message that still rings true today. And personally, working on it, recording it, and making the video for it during the pandemic, really gave me joy. 

It just inspired me to keep holding on. And, you know, knowing that God is faithful, the hope that we have, hindi siya daydreaming lang. I just get reminded about God’s faithfulness all these years. And I know na kahit na ‘yung future, ‘yun nga parang uncertain, pero Siya alam Niya ‘yung future.”

In these trying times, let us fill our hearts with love and songs that spark hope and togetherness. Let us always keep on wishing and praying. 

Should you have any medical concerns, UNTV — a BMPI-operated TV network and Wish 107.5’s sister company — is offering free consultation via its 24/7 digital clinic hotlines: 0915-189-7007 (Globe), 0918-438-8988 (Smart), 0943-411-8001 (Sun), and +63918-438-8988 (Viber). 

Editor’s note: All interviews featured in the article were taken during the artists’ Wish Connect guestings. Minor edits have been made.

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