Still by Viu: The series and its soundtrack reminds us that our world can spin again
As we enter another year into the pandemic, languishing still seems to be the prevalent feeling. Continuously shifting alert levels, caution fatigue and overall bleakness take a toll on our mental health. Dreams are put on hold indefinitely as it seems our lives have been put on pause. Here's a motivation to move forward with Still by Viu.
Here to provide some solace to souls that feel their world has frozen over is Viu’s first original musical narrative series, Still. Written by Pat Valera (Mula Sa Buwan) and directed by Treb Monteras II (Respeto), the eight-part series mixes the elements of musical theatre and film as they explore the chaos of quarantine and the toll it took on us.
Set in the early months of the pandemic, Still by Viu follows the story of an unlikely group of strangers who find themselves in Daloy Himig, a music camp. Quarantine shuts down their music camp abruptly, leaving them stranded together. These dreamers try and find answers to their struggles through music and each other. Still tackles many realities we continuously face in the thick of lockdown, such as missed opportunities, self-exploration and mending severed relationships. Like its title implies, as long as we’re here, we still have a chance to move forward.
Each character from Still by viu provides a story further explored in its extensive list of songs. Songwriters Nica Del Rosario (Sarah Geronimo’s Tala), Matthew Chang (Dekada ‘70) and Mike Shimamoto (Still cast member), together with production house Filpmusic, led the creation of the songs performed throughout the show. With 13 songs, they captured each character's motivations and conflicts. Still’s soundtrack makes you feel seen, valid and hopeful—emotions we hardly feel as our worlds remain at a standstill.
Filled with soaring anthems of solidarity and tear-jerking, melancholy ballads, Still’s soundtrack perfectly illustrates these tumultuous times. Chang’s Babangon Pilipinas, performed by Gabby Padilla, tells the tale of Filipino resilience. It’s an upbeat, show-tune brimming with pure and unadulterated optimism. Muli, written by Del Rosario, is a tribute to our frontliners and OFWs. The sanguine song pays homage to the individuals who work day and night to keep everyone afloat. Meanwhile, Shimamoto’s Sumandali explores the collective pain we’ve experienced that provided a bright side: learning to lean on each other in times of need.
But one of the hardest-hitting songs off the album (and a personal favorite) is Mundo Umikot Ka. It’s a song with instrumentals that steadily climbs to a high peak, replicating the feeling of relief after screaming your lungs out. The cast members lay their burdens and beg the world to spin on its axis again. Each lyric is a call for help. One that does not get answered but, at least, listened to. That's what matters anyway, right? To know that someone out there hears you and believes in you. According to Chang and Del Rosario, this song struck them the most. They share, “There are times when you get tired of everything that is going on with your life, but you are not alone. You just have let it all out and express what you truly feel.”
Through the show and soundtrack, Still gives us spaces to be, to air out their frustrations and fears. It provides comfort to those who still find themselves standing immobile. In the same breath, Still reassures those who feel insignificant and forgotten that they count. The world may brush you off, but your existence is enough reason to be heard.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver