Just in time for their one-year anniversary, multilingual Filipino boy group, ALAMAT thanked their fans, the Magiliws, with a heart-warming special single and lyric video, “ABKD.” Compared to their debut song, “kbye,” a cheery pop song whose lyrics expressed the bitterness of a partner ghosting you, “ABKD” instead conveyed words of encouragement to help tackle life’s challenges and pressures. 

The music video for “ABKD” dropped on February 22, a week after its lyric video and song release on their debut anniversary date. ALAMAT was formed by story-teller and director, Jason Paul Laxamana, and is managed by Viva Records and Ninuno Media. The group currently consists of members Taneo, Mo, Tomas, R-Ji, Alas, Gami, and Jao. Valfer, now a former member, departed the group on February 26, according to Viva Artists Agency

Continuously Rising

After releasing a generous amount of unique singles and music videos, ALAMAT’s first year of their music career led to them winning “Video of the Year” at the 2021 PPOP Awards last December. The group has also set a record straight after their debut with “kbye” as the fastest Filipino act to appear on the Billboard’s Next Big Sound chart, placing at number two. They have also recently received their YouTube Silver Play Button in the past year, celebrating their attainment of 100K subscribers.

Music Video Symbolism in “ABKD”

The music video began with an emphasis on a billboard, which set the tone and focus of the “ABKD” storyline. It started off with a little girl, specifically an Aeta girl, looking at a billboard advertisement based on a skin whitening product headlined with the words, “Ugly No More.” The visual also included a woman’s skin gradually turning from a darker complexion to a lighter one. The Aeta people are one of the many indigenous groups in the Philippines who are often subjected to discrimination, especially with their darker skin tone. This beginning scene of the music video is addressing the issues with Filipino beauty standards, such as whiter skin. The story of the music video thus surrounded an uplifting and inspiring vibe to embrace yourself, no matter what the standards of society imposed.

The music video continued the theme by including scenes of visual representation, such as the allusion to “crab mentality,” shown by people dressed in crab costumes trying to bring the little girl down. Crab mentality is when someone reacts negatively to another who is getting ahead of them, causing actions such as discouraging or sabotaging a person’s rising success. A widely used term in the Philippines, ALAMAT including a scene like this presents it as one of the many issues in Filipino culture. The storyline of “ABKD” further brings societal issues and discrimination to light by including a scene of the word “BALUGA” crossed out on a sign, as it is derogatory slang for the Aeta people. 

Other than the symbolism behind the story of “ABKD,” the music video overall presented a playful and happy atmosphere. Along with the lyrics, the song energizes viewers to not let troubles get in their way. ALAMAT’s positive aura further radiated in their choreography, especially when the members danced a circular motion with their fingers coinciding with the line, “Mundo mo ito,” translating to “this world is yours.” The making of the choreography also referenced moves inspired by the variety of “eagle dances” from different parts of the Philippines. Colorful, fun, and uplifting, ALAMAT empowers listeners with strength, while also challenging Filipino societal issues.

ALAMAT even shared some fun facts from the preparation leading up to the launch of “ABKD.” 

Who Are the Aeta People?

The Aeta (pronounced Ah-ee-ta) people are one of the many indigenous groups in the Philippines, residing in remote, mountainous areas of Northern Luzon. The Aeta people have common features of dark brown skin, curly hair, and short stature. The Aetas today, however, are part of the marginalized sector of the Philippines and face displacement from their ancestral lands due to the destruction of illegal logging, mining, and slash-and-burn farming that takes place in their areas. Despite the challenges the Aeta face in modern times, the cameo of the Aeta children in ALAMAT’s hopeful song and music video fills the air with encouragement and togetherness. 

Giving the spotlight to the Aeta children in “ABKD” spreads the inclusivity of other Filipino ethnicities. It has been a mission ALAMAT has carried since the beginning of their career by having diverse members who come from different Philippine cultures. Letting the Aeta children shine with ALAMAT gives a sense of unity with all kinds of Filipino people, no matter their skin color and features, and brings awareness to the country’s indigenous groups. In fact, the group’s co-leaders, Taneo and Mo, visited an Aeta village in Pampanga to teach the “ABKD” choreography to the Aeta children featured in the music video, making the experience of interacting with the Aeta much more meaningful. 

Lyrics with Hope

“ABKD” is written by Jhaye Cura and composed by Erik Carlfjord, Linnéa Norlén, and Matilda Frommegård who is from The Kennel, the same team that helped produced ALAMAT’s “kasmala.” The Kennel is a Sweden-based music publishing, production, and management company whose writers and producers have credits in writing and producing songs for BTS, Red Velvet, Girls’ Generation, and more. 

“ABKD” is a song that sounds similar to children’s songs and nursery rhymes, which gives a nostalgic feeling of playfulness and innocence. ALAMAT transformed the Filipino alphabet in a more meaningful way that can help motivate and bring inspiration to people. Stylized as “ABKD,” the song title stands for the first sounds of the Filipino alphabet, which are A, Ba, Ka, Da. In the chorus, ALAMAT attaches meaning to these letters with warm, motivating messages that inspire you to get through your life’s challenges. 

Starting with A, it stands for “Abutin ang ‘yong mithiin,” meaning to “achieve your dream.” Next is Ba for “Bagbagin mga balakid,” saying to “break all the barriers.” After Ba is Ka for “Kampi ang mga tala, mundo mo ito,” translating to “keep the stars as your allies, this is your world.” Finally for the last letter, Da is for “Dampian mo ng pag-asa, magtiwala ka sa’yong sarili” which stands for “dab it with hope, believe in yourself.” ALAMAT also adds an extra letter after Da, which is Ga for “Gabay mo si bathala,” meaning “God is your guide.”

Other lyrics reflect more inspiring messages such as, the line sang by R-Ji,  “Iwasan mong magpadala sa mga mapanghamak, Ngayon ang tamang panahon ika’y magsikap,” meaning “don’t let the detractors get to you, now is the right time to work hard.” In signature ALAMAT fashion, the members’ root languages, such as Bisaya, Bicolano, Kapampangan, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, and Ilocano, adds another impactful touch to the hopeful song. Along with those languages is the addition of another Philippine language sung by Mo, which is Sambal, newly included in ALAMAT’s language library. 

Showcasing Filipino Culture in Fashion 

Throughout the music video for “ABKD,” the boys are seen wearing three sets of outfits, one of them being from Hapi Habi Wearable Weaves. ALAMAT has previously collaborated with Hapi Habi for their music video, “porque,” and many live shows such as their performance on the Wish 107.5 Bus. Hapi Habi created the denim set for “ABKD” and styled its make with Cordillera Weaves, a style of weaving that uses a resist dyeing process before the threads are woven to create a pattern or design. Each of the member’s outfits was personalized and included the Philippine script, Baybayin, where they embroidered the beginning letters of their last name to the clothing. 

Taking Filipino Representation to the Next Level

Throughout 2021, ALAMAT has released singles, such as their last passionate slow-jam, “porque,” originally sung by the band, Maldita. ALAMAT is also most notably known for their intense “kasmala,” which erupted the internet with colonization and anti-Asian hate discourse because of the music video’s historical Filipino symbolism. ALAMAT’s signature sounds incorporate traditional Filipino instruments mixed with modern pop, as well as singing in other wide-spoken Philippine languages rather than the standard Tagalog. The Philippine languages ALAMAT sings and speaks include six major Philippine languages out of the 120 estimated languages in the country. 

The group is an overall diverse bunch representing a few of the many ethnicities of the Philippines. ALAMAT’s fresh new take with “ABKD” expands the group’s versatility in music and mission to unite others through different ways, whether it’s educating others on history, bringing up social issues or advocating positive messages. 

The group is set to perform at the 2022 PPOP Convention on April 9 and 10 along with other big P-pop acts such as SB19, BINI, BGYO, MNL48, and more. In-person tickets and online tickets are now available, so if you want to support ALAMAT and get into more P-pop groups, check out the PPOP Convention!

Ready to become an ALAMAT stan or a “Magiliw”? Listen to ALAMAT’s “ABKD” and other singles on Spotify and Apple Music! Also check out their YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and their enjoyable content on TikTok

Want more music? Check out Jackson’s latest mixtape here!