Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper BrandedUp Hello! Create with us Privacy Policy

Spellbound by the enchanting dwta

By Michael Roy Brosas Published May 05, 2023 5:00 am

Despite the challenges of pursuing music as a probinsyana, singer-songwriter dwta remains unfazed in embracing her heritage. With nothing but a smile on her face, a guitar in her hand, and a little bit of fairy magic, she's proudly showcasing through her music everything that her province has to offer.

We don’t have to look far and wide to see that central to her identity is her love for her own culture. Even the stage name she chose for herself, which is a combination of the words “diwa” and “tala,” was deliberately picked because, according to her, it’s “Pilipinong-Pilipino.

“I chose diwa because I want to show the essence of music—to express feelings and touch the lives of its listeners. Then tala, because being born and raised in the province, I want to help develop its local music scene,” she explains to Young STAR in a Zoom interview.

Even though still an emerging artist, dwta is becoming one of the modern faces of contemporary Bicol music.

This purpose, which goes beyond herself, is what makes dwta a star that shines brightly among other up-and-coming artists. Her unique perspective and advocacy of integrating her own culture in her songs offer much-needed diversity to our music industry. Through writing music in her own language and even exploring the mysticism of her culture’s folklore, she’s breathing new life into local traditions and oral histories that are being threatened by our rapidly changing times.

Although reaching mainstream success would be much easier if she’d only write in widely understood languages like Tagalog or English, she will still continue to do her own thing.

This is particularly true with her hit song Santigwar, which debuted at No. 2 in the Spotify Viral 50 Philippines, with 300,000 YouTube views as of writing.

After its release, her fans were quick to use its lyrics “Mari na mapasantigwar kita,” which roughly translates to, “Come with me to the faith-healer,” to score dates with their crushes. In a Facebook post, dwta shares screenshots of internet users using her song to initiate conversations or even profess love to another person.

“Amazing no’n! Ako ang kinikilig sa mga sinesend nila,” she giddily tells us, her bubbly personality shining through the screen. “It makes me super happy that people are responding this way to my songs, and using it to confess to their crushes, and it actually works!”

Santigwar, an indigenous healing ritual commonly done in rural places, is not romantic in every sense of the word. It’s done whenever we fall ill with something beyond our earthly understanding or by being cursed by supernatural beings (tabi-tabi po). It takes a certain level of creativity and genuine appreciation for one’s culture, including its nuances, to be able to successfully subvert the core of this age-old practice.

Fans often use lyrics from dwta's hit song Santigwar to confess their feelings to their crushes.

The songwriter was able to make it romantic, in every sense of the word.

“Madalas hindi natin maintindihan ang nararamdaman natin para sa ibang tao, like love, ‘di ba? At kapag may nararamdaman tayong hindi natin maintindihan, pumupunta tayo ng albularyo. So, Santigwar is about the feelings that we cannot understand,” she says, explaining the creative process behind the song.

This outlook on love made us wonder where she gets her inspiration from. With hesitation, since her parents were around, she self-consciously but laughingly answers: “Sa experience ko sa mga crushes at sa mga kwento ng mga kaibigan.

But like any other journey, whether it’s to the albularyo or our life’s purpose, it always comes with challenges. There are times when we get lost, and we may not know which path to take.

Before discovering her talent for songwriting, dwta was immersed in other forms of art. In fact, she never imagined that she'd someday pursue a career in music. It was only after joining a songwriting workshop that she found her affinity for it. “Marunong din pala ako,” she says. But what really sold her on pursuing this career path was being inspired every time other people sang another artist’s songs.

“Parang ang ganda sa feeling,” she tells us. “That’s when I realized na, ‘oh my God, this is the career that I want.’”

Unbeknownst to the dwta who’d only just discovered her passion, big things were waiting for her. She would soon perform in big crowds who knew every word of her songs. Her music would be played on the radio, featured on television, and she would be discovered by a big and well-known record label, Sony Music.

Even though still an emerging artist, she’s undoubtedly becoming one of the modern faces of contemporary Bicol songs. However, in front of her enchanting music is a challenge—one that requires her to defy an industry that rarely rewards probinsyano artists, like her, who are embracing their cultures.

“Kapag sinabi mong artist na nagsusulat gamit ang local languages, madalas hindi siya patok. Ang focus ng karamihan ay nasa sentro, katulad ng Maynila,” she laments. “Pangarap ng local artists na katulad ko ang magka-espasyo rin sa national music scene at tangkilikin ng madla."

But no matter how big a challenge it is, she does not let it dampen her spirit. “Pinag-iigihan ko na lang.”

Although reaching mainstream success would be much easier if she’d only write in widely understood languages like Tagalog or English, she will still continue to do her own thing. She dreams of writing more songs, doing more gigs, and even bringing Bicol songs to Metro Manila.

Without a doubt, this expedition is going to be an uphill battle. Being a new artist in the music industry is already a battle in itself. But with her smile, a guitar in her hand, and her fairy magic, dwta is determined to continue pursuing her passion and writing music that features the undeniable beauty of her culture.

* * *

You can follow dwta Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok @akoaydwta on all social media platforms, and her music is available as dwta on Spotify, Apple Music, and other music streaming services.