I remember bringing a copy of our college lit folio in the office where I used to do my practicum in HR. The HR Manager saw it and read some of the poems. He particularly liked one Tagalog poem so I asked him if he also does poetry. I find it nice that he did but I was puzzled when, during our break, he photocopied this Tagalog poem, crossing out and substituting the words he didn’t like. I was shocked when I found out that he was in the process of creating HIS poem! I didn’t own the poem but I felt insulted for the writer. It was unfair!
Just yesterday, I learned that no less than the music correspondent of PULP magazine accused the Pinoy band Orange and Lemons of ripping off the song Chandeliers by Care, an 80s British duo. This rip-off, she said, is evident in the now popular song “Pinoy Ako,” of ABS-CBN’s reality show Pinoy Big Brother. She said that people should hear both Chandeliers and Pinoy Ako to make their own conclusions. Apparently, the writer is a friend of the other half of the Care duo and she just wanted Orange and Lemons to apologize to them (Care). The music writer even keeps a thread of emails sent by OnL to the egroup where they both belong, admitting that they indeed sort of used Chandeliers for the music of Pinoy Ako. Yet, last Sunday edition of the Manila Bulletin, OnL stood their ground and defended that although their influences include 80s new wave, Pinoy Ako is an original composition note per note, adding that if there are any similarities, it can only be the intro and nothing more. This after having admitted that they were listening to Chandeliers in the process of rendering music to Pinoy Ako. Sheesh…I know, it looks to me as in-your-face copying only pretending to be discreet. It’s also interesting to note that when asked about the origin of their name, OnL admitted that they got it from XTC’s (another 80s band) album entitled tadaah! - Oranges and Lemons. Okay, you connect the dots.
It’s a pity that we continue to steal other people’s work – consciously or unconsciously. I’m not saying that Orange and Lemons really stole the melody of Chandeliers. I honestly am not quite familiar with their music. But just the same, it is frustrating. I hope we were seriously taught the value of quotation marks when we were still small…and the importance of giving credit to the source of our research or paper or music or poem. A simple “inspired by” would have made a whole lot of difference.