After CJ Villavicencio was declared grand winner of online singing competition The Pop Stage for his performance featuring a medley of classic Eraserheads songs, members of the Ang Huling El Bimbo: The Musical were quick to call him out for alleged plagiarism. The online weekly show, which is hosted by Matteo Guidicelli, scored performers on criteria like creativity, originality, quality of performance, and entertainment value.
Among the first to voice their disappointment with the results was musical director and singer Myke Salomon who posted his sentiments on Twitter. He wrote, “A guy copied/ripped-off our musical arrangements for #AngHulingElbimboMusical (musical treatment, concept) without permission won in that pop stage contest for his final round. He won 1 million [pesos] and an artist contract. I feel bad for the other contestants.”
A guy copied/ripped-off our musical arrangements for #AngHulingElbimboMusical (musical treatment, concept) without permission won in that pop stage contest for his final round. He won 1million and an artist contract. I feel bad for the other contestants. 👎— Myke Salomon (@DJMYKEsalomon) August 2, 2020
Ang Huling El Bimbo cast member Jef Flores also posted a side-by-side comparison of CJ’s music video alongside the same song performed during the actual stage performance at Resorts World Manila last year to further highlight the striking similarities between the two arrangements. Jef said in his video, “You see this people? I know every one of these people. I know exactly how hard they worked to get to where they are. Blood, sweat, and tears they shed in order to make this number work and put it together. They took the sound, they took the choreography, they took everything. Guilty. So guilty.”
The Eraserheads vocalist Ely Buendia echoed their sentiments in a post on his Facebook post on August 3, Monday. The OPM icon gave credit to the AHEB musical’s version of his timeless song by saying, “AHEB’S ROTC Pare Ko was by far, among all the brilliant arrangements and choreography in the show, the most striking and original renditions I had witnessed and enjoyed during its original run, and easily became my favorite. It took something old and was INSPIRED to make it NEW and FRESH. Therein lies the difference.”
While Ely did not directly address CJ or The Pop Stage, he shared his shared disappointment with the rest of the AHEB cast and hoped that this kind of practice can be discouraged in the industry. He added, “…it is disheartening that there is still a culture out there, not just in entertainment, that somehow makes it okay to take credit, and be rewarded, for someone else’s work. I am disappointed for all the AHEB crew because I know for a fact that they poured all their hearts and souls into creating something that was true to the material and their craft. In our day to day struggles against this oppressive life, the temptation is always there to take the fast route, the shortcut, the easy way to success. But we are human. I hope this matter is resolved soon and credit is given to those who deserve it.”
The Pop Stage has yet to issue a statement on the matter.