Ever since its release on June 14, Lola Amour’s “Raining in Manila” has been the anthem song of many Filipinos as heavy rains are experienced across the country nearly every day.
With its catchy opening line, “It’s been raining in Manila, hindi ka ba nilalamig,” most of the listeners assume that the song represents the people who are longing for a partner to spend the cuddle weather with.
On the other hand, if they’re not going in that direction, some of them assume it’s a song about a one-sided relationship, as portrayed by this particular line in the song: “So, I’ll be waiting in Manila, kahit ‘di ka na babalik.”
But if we look at the song as a whole and break it down bit by bit, we will realize that there is more to “Raining in Manila” than just the romantic side it seems to convey.
With the kind of music we have in our culture, Original Pinoy Music (OPM), Pinoy artists convey pretty much the same message when they release a love song.
It’s either a love song conveying romantic interest, feelings, and appreciation, or a love song conveying one’s heartbreak, one-sided love, or pain.
However, with Lola Amour’s hit song, it’s entirely different. Like the fans have been saying, it’s a “cultural reset,” and here’s why.
1. Japanese Influence
Lola Amour’s inspiration in writing and producing “Raining in Manila” is Tatsuro Yamashita’s hit city pop song “Sparkle” which was released back in 1982, the time when the popularity of Japan’s city pop movement was at its peak.
The city pop movement or genre has no clear definition but it refers to the Japanese songs during the 1970s and 1980s with big-city feels, describing those who are in the provinces moving out to the cities because of Japan’s sudden economic boom.
It’s a genre that redefined Japanese pop music, bringing nostalgia to its listeners with its crazy combination of funk, jazz, and R&B elements, usually paired with the retro or vaporwave visual art style.
This explains why “Raining in Manila” has a rhythmic and danceable melody, especially with its instrumental part, making their listeners jive with them despite the melancholy it actually portrays.
2. Cultural Symbolism
While the song is heavily influenced by Japan’s city pop genre, Lola Amour still found a way to own their song by integrating Philippine culture into the genre.
Assumed to be a love song, “Raining in Manila” is actually about a guy expressing his raw emotions to his friends in college who went abroad to be successful. Sounds very Filipino, right?
In a third-world country like the Philippines, it has been ingrained in many Filipinos that a better life is more achievable abroad; hence, they study smart and work hard so they can leave the country for good.
But what about their friends? What about the people who have been with them but were left behind? What about their feelings? This is what the song is trying to represent.
Moreover, the “rain” in the song is a metaphor referring to the experiences of the Filipinos—not the heavy rains during the rainy season but the struggles they all share in common.
That’s why in the line “Maulan ba sa inyo ‘pag bumubuhos dito,” the guy actually wishes in silence that he and his friends are on the same page, experiencing the same struggles and success, despite the huge distance and difference between them.
When the band’s lead vocalist, Pio Dumayas, disclosed this, their listeners called them geniuses. In fact, Pio is actually the guy in the song; it’s his real story. We can see that just by doing what they love, Lola Amour has given the Filipinos a look at our reality, all the while giving them high-quality music that they could enjoy.
3. On Longing and Happiness
Seeing your friends go abroad in pursuit of a better life could be a little bit depressing. Aside from the sad reality, of course, you’re going to miss their presence and the bond you shared together.
The line “May kulang ba sa inyo na naiwan dito?” shows this exact emotion, as we likely think about whether our friends feel the same about us.
In the song, while it’s a difficult season to go through, the guy wants his friends to be happy and successful—proof that we can’t stay sad or depressed forever because, deep inside, if we truly love our friends, we will be happy for them and support their decisions.
A particular line in the song, “Kamusta kana? Kahit ‘wag nang sagutin. ‘Di ba nawala ang kintab ng bituin? Sana gano’n ka nga pa rin,” also points out the fact that even if you are disconnected with your friends, you still wish that they would be the same people whom you knew back then, with the same hope and fire in their hearts.
Disguised as a “love song” with feel-good lyrics, “Raining in Manila” will genuinely take its listeners on a melancholic yet joyful ride. It’s a reminder to everyone that we all have our personal struggles to deal with; we all have our own “rain” in our lives that will make us strong and independent.
And no matter what happens to our friends on their journey abroad, we will still be waiting for them, just like in the line, “So, I’ll be waiting in Manila kahit ‘di kana babalik,” because that’s what friends are for—a type of love that far exceeds that of the romantic one.