From a bouncy love song to an interface of inspiration, Inigo Pascual shares how Dahil Sa’yo helped shape his perspective on music for a better reason.
“To be honest, the way I see it, not everyone will like you,” says Inigo Pascual, cutting through a conversation that at this point has spanned everything from his early gravitation to performing, trying to make his dreams happen away from the shadows of his father, initially feeling lost, alone, and even failing, and the gift that keeps on giving that is DahilSa’yo. At this point, the singer and songwriter has stacked up enough life points to realize that despite the humility and the hustle, not everyone will get it, especially when it comes to his music. “I mean that’s the reality of it all,” he says with no trace of irony in his voice.
“Even with this album, Options, it wasn’t even about the numbers anymore. It wasn’t even about how big the song was, but meeting the people that actually listen to your songs and it hit them, hit a certain part of them in their heart,” he says, taking a few seconds to adjust his wide-brimmed hat, a snazzy punctuation to the gotta-look-good-from-the torso-up fashion that the world has acclimated to in many a virtual call, before continuing his stalled train of thought. Carrying on, Inigo Pascual recalls, “Even with DahilSa’yo, I would meet couples that would tell me: ‘That was a first dance in our wedding’ or ‘yan ‘yung ginamit namin sa Christmas party.’ It means a lot to me whenever I hear stories like that.”
As much as Inigo Pascual is a storyteller in his own right, painting a picture through his music, he is equally as interested in listening what you have to say, whatever that may be.
Pinoy, The Time Is Now
For all the milestones marked and success stacked so far, which Inigo Pascual feels genuinely awkward talking about, his real accomplishments lie in the reach and effect of his music. For all the trips around the world to sing, the talked about productions on ASAP, and the cool collaborations you didn’t realize he had already struck up, the young man feels most proud when he gets to sing in Tagalog, not just for a Filipino crowded here, but to different nationalities as well.
“That makes me really happy every time I get to sing a Tagalog song and seeing them vibing to it. That’s very important to me,” shares Inigo Pascual, furthering on his unique perspective as someone who has lived a significant part of his life abroad. “Even for the second generation Filipino Americans, for them to tell me, ‘I wanted to learn more about my history, my heritage because of your song,’ or parents would tell me, ‘That was the first song my kid learned in Tagalog,’ it feels good to be able to do that, because I knew how it felt to grow up in the states and not really have that bridge, not have that meeting point between, you know, American music or, you know, Western and Filipino entertainment. It was two very different things, and I felt like there was something that needed to happen to bridge those two.”
Representation, in any way, shape, and form matters, especially for those that have long struggled with cultural identities and acceptance in multiple communities, and Inigo Pascual has in his own little way contributed to the conversation with his songs, especially in the enduring DahilSa’yo.
“All I can say now is the time to go to be out there and to be known as Filipinos,” he attests. “I mean there’s K-pop, there’s Hispanic music that’s been around for ages, Western Music, ‘di ba? Filipinos, we’re known for singing, but we should also be known for our music, which is OPM. We have beautiful music; we have talented artists that are world class and that deserve to heard, performed, and experienced all over.”
From Love Song To Fight Song
At this point, he is set to spread his wings further and wider than he could have imagined. But even before he readies himself to soar into a sky of good fortune and infinite possibilities, Inigo Pascual will be the first one to tell you that his purpose in pursuing his passion is more than just what we see.
“Okay so this is one specific moment that I kind of realized what the purpose of a songwriter, or as an artist was,” begins Inigo Pascual, his voice cracking a little. “I’m not gonna cry with this one…So, I met this one fan of mine, and she had leukemia. I visited her in the hospital. I was super nervous, but at the same time I was excited to see how she was doing. And when I met her, she was super excited, as if she knew me for a long time. I felt like I was a family member that went abroad and she saw me again after such a long time. That’s how she was hugging me.
“And when we started singing, you know, we had a good time, but at the same time, I felt so sad that that’s the situation that she was living in. It’s different when you see it firsthand that there are kids that have to be in a situation and they don’t have a choice, because it’s a condition that they have to live with. But when she started singing, we started to jam with Dahil Sa’yo…I never imagined my song to be a fight song for someone,” remembers Inigo Pascual in incredible emotional detail. “When she started singing the lyrics, ‘Dahil sa’yo ako’y lalaban. Dahil sa’yo ako’y matapang. Para sa’yo, pagmamahal na walang katapusan,’ I realized, whoa, it’s her fight song, and it hit me in the heart. ‘Yun pala ‘yung purpose ng pagsusulat ng kanta, kasi may mga taong ginagamit ‘yung kanta mo na kanta ng buhay nila.”
Sure, DahilSa’yo was, and still is primarily peddled as a bouncy love song, but at that exact moment, the music became more than Inigo Pascual. “You don’t even realize that when you write these types of songs…I didn’t have that intention when I was writing the song, but that’s the beauty of being a songwriter. Some people will take that song, and make it so personal and so meaningful in their life, and when you hear those stories, it’ll inspire you even more to create, to make more songs that not just only speaks about yourself, but also speaks about someone else’s journey, or someone else’s life.”
Equipped with life’s lessons, rallying realizations, and inspiring interfaces, Inigo Pascual has the capacity to understand things better, emotions especially. “Music definitely made me grow up,” he asserts. While he still insists that the fun is not all lost, there now exists more resolve and reason to the songs he writes and brings to life. Just like the rest of us, he too anchors himself to music, in good times, in bad times, and in times that just needs a lash of rhythm and lyrics to make things special. Soundtracking the lives of many, from DahilSa’yo, Catching Feelings, to Neverland,Inigo Pascual is connecting more than before, essentially becoming a significant part of lives even without realizing it. And isn’t that something?
DahilSa’yo was one thing, and now, Inigo Pascual is taking it upon himself to fight the good fight, pushing boundaries, and opening doors when and where he can, not just for himself but for Filipino artists in general. “It feels good every time I encounter people that tell me their stories and their own meaning of my songs,” he says of the earnest truth that comes from his music. With a smile now plastered on his face, he wraps things up with a flourish, just as he does with his songs, “It’s a beautiful thing to witness.”
Art direction KENNETH DIMAANO
Photography SHAIRA LUNA
Assisted LANCE LUNA
Fashion direction LYN ALUMNO
Styling ANGELO RAMIREZ DE CARTAGENA
Grooming JAY HERRERA
Illustrations JANN PASCUA
3D Illustration YSA CANLAS
Videography FLOYD JHOCSON
Shoot coordination LOUIS ESGUERRA
Special thanks to CORNERSTONE (ERICKSON RAYMUNDO, JEFF VADILLO, CARESS CABALLERO, PHER MOYA, LIZ ALVAREZ)
CONTINUE READING: FINDING NEVERLAND: HOW INIGO PASCUAL FOUND HIS GROOVE IN MUSIC