You might have been in your car one day, minding your own business, when a familiar dialect starts to play on the radio—"Ay
We don't get songs about Filipinas very often, let alone one about Cebuanas: there was Marcus Davis Jr.'s "Filipina Girl" and Bamboo's "Probinsiyana," to name a few (and we really mean a few), but those have been long forgotten. Karencitta's dancefloor-ready tune brings Cebuano pride to a global level without being cheesy or patronizing.
"My goal [as an artist] is to amplify Original Pinoy Music on an international scale. And since I am a fully-fledged Cebuana, it only made sense to give gratitude to my roots," Karen shares.
The infectious beat was produced by 14-year-old—yep, you read that right—Austrian producer Tc-5 and Grammy Award winner Jon Ingoldsby (who previously worked with Madonna for her 1998 album Ray of Light). Jon found Karen back when she was doing YouTube comedy skits, and she was initially hesitant to accept his offer for a collaboration, believing it to be too good to be true. "Around that time, I gave up on music
During the early phases of the "Cebuana" songwriting process last year, the Sinulog Festival in Cebu was approaching, and Karen was insistent on including a uniquely Cebuano element in the song: a Sinulog-inspired
And that's where "Cebuana" succeeds: by incorporating modern elements that appeal to a global audience without compromising fierce loyalty to her roots. The music video features dancers of all ages, races, genders, and cultures, which was by no means a happy accident. "I want to make the world dance by injecting danceable music," Karen says.
"Gusto ko mag-showcase na kahit professional o non-professional dancer ka, enjoy pa rin ang buhay kapag marinig mo ang record. Unity in diversity. World peace will always win. There's too much negativity going on in the world. This is my centavo of positive vibration."
Fresh from a live performance as part of the JaDine Revolution Concert roster on February 9 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Karencitta's got plans outside of music as well: she'll be filming the movie Indak alongside Ella Cruz and Yassi Pressman this summer.
These days, millennials tend to shy away from the phrase "Pinoy pride," given that its negative associations leave a bad taste in the mouth. But Karencitta has given it a whole new meaning, especially for Cebuanas, a regional group that very rarely gets their rightful place in the mainstream spotlight. This is only the beginning for Karencitta—an artist who not only knows how to conjure up a viral hit but also isn't afraid to wear her pride on her sleeve.