Filipino artists call out online talent show champ for ‘plagiarizing’ Ang Huling El Bimbo musical

August 4, 2020 - 5:21 PM
"Ang Huling El Bimbo: The Musical" at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in this February 2019 photo. (Photo from Ang Huling El Bimbo Musical 2019 via Facebook)

Various artists from the entertainment industry decried the results of an online competition, which they claimed copied the arrangement of the “Ang Huling El Bimbo” (AHEB) musical.

AHEB is a musical based on the songs of iconic band Eraserheads.

Ang Huling El Bimbo musical
“Ang Huling El Bimbo: The Musical” at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in this March 10, 2019 photo. (Photo from Ang Huling El Bimbo Musical 2019 via Facebook)

On the other hand, The Pop Stage is an online talent show under actor and racer Matteo Guidicelli‘s name and affiliated with American fried chicken chain Popeyes.

It started airing in May amid the quarantine period.

Participants of the online talent program were asked to submit an audition video that demonstrated their talents such as singing and dancing.

The Pop Stage named CJ Villavicencio as the winner during the grand finals on Sunday night.

He is expected to take home P1 million from the fried chicken chain and earn a one-year management contract from the Viva Artists Agency

Villavicencio’s victory was, however, questioned due to his presentation’s originality.

He reportedly submitted a music video featuring a medley of Eraserheads songs but the musical director of the AHEB musical accused him of copying the arrangements without permission.

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 and an artist contract. I feel bad for the other contestants,” musical director and stage artist Myke Salomon, also the musical arranger for AHEB, tweeted.

He also called out the production team, particularly the judges, and accused them of supposedly tolerating the “ripoff.”

“And para sa mga productions and judges. You are judging concept and originality… You tolerate ripping off,” Salomon added.

The online talent show had three criteria for the entries, namely originality or creativity at 40%, the quality of performance at 40% and entertainment value at 20%.

ABS-CBN News reported that theater artists Stephen Viñas and Jef Flores had “compiled and compared segments from Villavicencio’s final video and numbers from ‘Ang Huling El Bimbo.'”

“Villavicencio’s Facebook post showing his The Pop Stage video originally did not include any credit to ‘Ang Huling El Bimbo’ last July 27. A subsequent edit on July 31, however, mentioned the Resorts World Manila as his ‘inspiration,'” the report said.

Musician Ely Buendia, the former lead vocalist of Eraserheads, backed up the team of AHEB and denounced the culture of taking credit for someone else’s work and being rewarded for it.

“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,” he wrote.

Buendia added that he hopes the issue will be “resolved soon and credit is given to those who deserve it.”

AHEB’S ROTC Pare Ko was by far, among all the brilliant arrangements and choreography in the show, the most striking and…

Posted by Ely Buendia on Monday, August 3, 2020


What AHEB cast members said

AHEB musical cast member Gab Pangilinan reshared Buendia’s post and reiterated that Salomon, Viñas, Fritz Esase and the entire choreography team had “suffered multiple injuries because of the literal hardwork” they placed in the musical.

She called out those who are defending Villavicencio and noted that “it takes a village to put up a theatre production.”

“Kaya siya masakit para sa mga taga-teatro. Kaya siya nakakagalit para sa mga nag aareglo. Kaya siya nakakabwisit para sa mga hindi nanalo,” Pangilinan said.

Other cast members of AHEB including Tanya Manalang, Bibo Reyes, Reb Atadero and Phi Palmos also condemned the purported plagiarism on their Twitter accounts.

Where the credit is due

Actress Kim Molina likewise called out the team of the talent show and said that she knew the hardships the AHEB team had gone through to produce a musical.

TSK TSK! #ThePopStage fam, I will be this blunt dahil alam ko ang hirap ng mga kaibigan ko, ng creative team para mapaganda ang #AHEB, ta’s gagayahin lang at mananalo ng 1M?! Edited caption niya na ‘Inspired’ daw, inspired gayang gaya?! HINDI NIYA DESERVE,” she tweeted. 

Molina also tagged Guidicelli, whose name is affiliated with the talent show, and urged him to hear them out.

Her boyfriend, actor Jerald Napoles, likewise condemned the supposed ripoff and tweeted that Villavicencio should give some of his prize money to Salomon.

“Kapareho nang areglo ng kaibigan kong musical director ng #AHEB na kausap ko habang puyat na ginagawa ang areglong ginaya mo..  ikaw kumita ng 1M haitan mo naman si@DJMYKEsalomon. Mas malaki tinrabaho niya sayo,” the actor wrote in response to Villavicencio. 

Atadero also said that 40% of the winnings should go to Salomon or the whole team of AHEB.

What Villavicencio said

Meanwhile, Villavicencio has kept mum on the plagiarism allegations.

However, prior to the online allegations, he thanked one of his supporters and said that he hoped his Eraserheads medley gave the “AHEB vibes,” suggesting that his performance was inspired by the musical.

AHEB cast members then replied to his tweet and once again called him out for copying the musical arrangement.

The Pop Stage, Popeyes and Guidicelli have not yet released a statement about the controversial Eraserheads Medley and the grand finals.