Jonathan Manalo, the — prolific and multi-awarded songwriter, composer, arranger and record producer — is one of the most respected and celebrated music personalities in the Philippines today.
A recipient of the inaugural SUDI National Music Award from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts in 2021, he first emerged in the local music scene when he won 2001's "JAM: Himig Handog sa Makabagong Kabataan" for the now-iconic song "Tara Tena."
Today, his decorated career includes 75 multi-platinum and 100 gold Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI) certifications. He is also the recipient of more than 200 awards and nominations from several prestigious local and international award-giving bodies and is the creative mind behind the key albums and full discographies of OPM's most successful artists. His notable pop hits include "Pinoy Big Brother's" emblematic theme song "Pinoy Ako," Gary Valenciano's "Ililigtas Ka Niya," Aiza Seguerra's "Para Lang Sa 'Yo," Piolo Pascual and Sarah Geronimo's "Paano Ba Ang Magmahal."
And so, to celebrate his two-decade discography, his compositions are given a refreshing treatment in "Lyric and Beat," the first original light musical drama series of iWantTFC.
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"Sa totoo lang, hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala na nangyari ito kasi sobrang quality talaga ng output. Nakaka-proud na lahat ng elements perfectly woven together, na nabuo ito with this powerhouse cast na napakahusay — ang gagaling umarte, ang gagaling kumanta, ang gagaling mag perform at ang galing ng story," Manalo said in the series' grand press conference.
"My songs have been there and it's 20 years-worth of songs pero song vault lang yun. Hindi ko masasabi na it's a musical without the story of direk Dolly [Dulu]. Talagang pinagtagpo kami siguro ng tadhana. Iniisip ko kung enough kaya, kung papasok kaya yung kanta kapag kailangan sa isang specific scene. May purpose pala kung bakit ko sinulat yung mga songs na iyo," he added.
Andrea Brillantes and Seth Fedelin are teaming up again in the said musical that promises to make audiences sing and dance to the beat of their dreams. Joining them are all-around Kapamilya performers Darren Espanto, AC Bonifacio, Kyle Echarri, Sheena Belarmino, Jeremy G, Angela Ken, and Awra Briguela.
Among the songs composed by Manalo include "Tara Tena," "Kabataang Pinoy," "Patuloy Ang Pangarap," and more.
Written and directed by Dulu, who is behind movie hits "The Boy Foretold by the Stars" and "Love Beneath the Stars," Lyric and Beat is influenced by her background in theater and exposure to musicals on TV like "High School Musical" and "Camp Rock."
Lyric and Beat starts off with the story of Lyric (Andrea), a driven teenager who wants to be a famous singer like her deceased mother.
When Lyric gets in as a scholar of the prestigious Philippine National Conservatory of Music (PNCM), a top school that hones the country's world-class singers, she has to become part of a show choir and win the upcoming national competition in order to stay in PNCM — a deal she made with her father, Jeff (Lito Pimentel). Jeff wants Lyric to get a more stable job to help the family financially than pursue an uncertain future as a singer, but was convinced by Lyric to let her join PNCM through their deal.
As Lyric navigates PNCM, she meets different students who also want to make their wildest dreams come true including, Beat (Seth) — an introverted freshie who developed stage fright because of his mother's death, but overcomes this with Lyric's influence.
Dulu also admitted at the grand media conference that it was challenging to create a musical series because the cast had to do song and dance rehearsals on top of acting workshops.
"It's a musical series as in legit na musical series at hindi talaga nagpapahuli ang acting. Bawat episode may character na naha-highlight at bawat isa sa kanila, hindi talaga nagpahuli," Dulu said, emphasizing that the series is not just about Lyric (Brillantes) and Beat (Fedelin) as each episode focuses on a cast member.
"Lyric and Beat" streams for free on iWantTFC in the Philippines and Indonesia. The show will also be available for premium users in other countries starting August 10.