A co-founder’s take on the Vispop controversy

Jude Gitamondoc |Contributed photo

CEBU CITY, Philipppines — Differences on the direction of how the Visayan Pop Music Competition (Vispop) would go have been the main reasons of Vispop co-founder Jude Gitamondoc’s leaving the group organizing the event.

Gitamondoc said in a Facebook note dated March 3, 2019 that he left the Artista Ko Multipurpose Cooperative and the group led by Barney Borja organizing Vispop 2019 in 2017.

Vispop journey

He said that he left the group that year and decided to keep silent about the circumstances of his leaving, but then with the upcoming Vispop 2019 and the online outcry of artists about Vispop being Gitamondoc’s baby, he decided to post this FB note about his Vispop journey.

“Being the main proponent and organizer of Vispop from 2013-2017, of course, a lot of my friends in the music industry naturally turned to me for a comment or some reaction. But I decided to hold my silence for as long as I can, hoping for better circumstances to air my side. But now, I think the outcry has reached fever pitch and it is my responsibility to speak out,” he said.

Gitamondoc said that Borja and multi-awarded furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, the new creative director for Vispop, reached out to him to inform him of their plans.

“Apparently, the original organizers Artist Ko through the capacity of member Atty. Jojo Lopez approached their group Sacred Heart School Batch 85 to seek support for Vispop in terms of funding,” he said.

“I listened to them as they showed me their schedule, the new logo, some of the changes they plan to apply,” he said.

Gitamondoc also claimed that the new producers made an offer, for him to write the theme song and to participate as part of the screening committee of the contest.

Read more: Vispop 2019 producers amid issue of Vispop co-founder’s leaving: Have faith in us

He also claimed on his post the involvement of the Artist Ko for this year’s Vispop including the participation in the workshops and screening.

Gitamondoc also claimed that instead of Artist Ko, Sacred Heart School for Boys – Batch 1985 will oversee the music production and finals night under Borja and Cobonpue, respectively.

“Batch 85 is acquiring from Artist Ko the license to hold the event for an undisclosed number of years, with a right to first refusal. Batch 85 will own the sound recording. However, Artist Ko will also have a share in the revenue from publishing,” Gitamondoc said.

After consulting with his partners, music producers Jad Bantug and Anjelo Calinawan, Gitamondoc turned down the offer of the new producers of Vispop.

“The next time sir Barney called me, I informed him we will have to beg off from participating in Vispop 2019 if Ian Zafra, ICO Music and Artist Ko are involved,” he said.

How Vispop was born

He said that Vispop was born when he and Cebuano music enthusiast, Lawyer Philip Landicho pushed the idea in 2008 of helping local artists in their songwriting and music production so that radio stations would play their songs.

The problem then was radio stations would not play their songs because it did not fit their playlist.

“Thus, we had a surplus of prize-winning Cebuano songs that never got played on radio,” he said.

For him, key solutions were songwriting and music production.

“We cannot just wait for entries to be submitted. We must approach the songwriters and help them through songwriting workshops. And we must level up our quality of music production so that we are able to compete with OPM and international standards,” he added.

In 2009, he and Landicho joined the Artist Ko.

Gitamondoc claimed attached with a screenshot that he proposed the idea to pioneering members Niñal, Ian Zafra, and Cattski Espina.

“Artist Ko tried to mount Vispop in 2010. Unfortunately, we failed due to lack of funds,” Gitamondoc said.

In 2013, the first Vispop competition was staged after it was funded by the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc. (FILSCAP).

Gitamondoc was not the main organizer during its first year. He was the musical director and music producer for the recordings.

He claimed that his contributions for Vispop in the last four years were being on the top of pre-production, workshop, screening, social media, music production, finals night, and post-production.

He said that because of this, he could not be blamed for becoming the face of Vispop for doing his job.

Angry at Artist Ko

He said he was angry at Artist Ko because they wanted to make money out of Vispop which is an advocacy for him.

“I was telling people it’s an advocacy, someone else was making a buck. I’m angry because while they say they want to protect the brand, they go on and destroy the spirit,” Gitamondoc said.

I’m angry because they want to have bragging rights to a phenomenon that’s built and fostered by a whole goddamn community,” he said.

Why he left

Gitamondoc left Artist Ko in 2017 and this happened after he learned that Artist Ko owned the right of the Vispop name without him being consulted about it.

He only learned about it when he did a gig in Bohol in 2017 and used Vispop in the promotion of that event in Facebook and the venue owner got a letter warning him of unauthorized use of trademark name Vispop.

Gitamondoc also claimed that he was not informed on Vispop’s application at the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines which was approved since 2015.

These led to a meeting with Ian Zafra and Insoy Ninal where he told them that Vispop was his intellectual property.

“Those were all my ideas that we applied,” he added.

To fix the problem, he said, they proposed to establish Vispop Inc. and make him the general manager of the corporation.

He turned it down and left Artist Ko because he thought of the strict application of the Vispop trademark and Vispop Inc. being reserved as a corporate name.

He said Artist Ko could still opt for his services but this time as an independent contractor.

“This is my way of emphasizing that my attachment and loyalty lies only in Vispop, the name, the concept and the contest which I conceived, which is now loosely used in reference to the promotion of Bisaya pop music in the mainstream,” he said./dbs

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