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From passion project to full-time hustle, Jonah Manzano emerges as an artist out of lockdown

Fil-Aussie Jonah Manzano will release his upcoming single 'Aking Mahal' on music streaming services on April 10

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Tricia Lee Rivera
Tricia Rivera is an emerging writer just looking to find the right words. Her writing interests include but are not limited to; human rights, faces in the community, and film.

“Filipinos are gifted, talented people. When people know you are Filipino, they assume that you can sing or play musical instruments, every house party you attend there’s always a karaoke set up already or one person bringing a guitar all the time. Well, that’s me!”

Writing, mixing and promoting music has become a full-time job for former tourism employee Jonah Manzano who emerged as a fully-fledged artist amid the COVID-19 lockdown. 

Between his tourism job and guitar tutoring he offered on weekends, there were not enough hours in the week for Jonah to pursue his love for music fully. But, with the lockdown, the chimes of time rang clear that it was now Jonah’s moment. 

Since the start of the pandemic, Jonah has written and recorded three songs that have been published on Spotify and Apple Music.

“Honestly, I could not do it before [COVID] as I was working from Monday to Friday,” 

“Then I said, “this is it!”. I recorded original songs and some cover songs. Believe it or not, even the day was available for me, I was also working until midnight in my home studio,” Jonah said. 

While COVID made gigs and events scarce, the Sydneysider utilised social media to share performances of original songs and covers.

His upcoming single Aking Mahal will be available on music streaming services on April 10 and is a tribute to his wife Yzel, who listens to his music before their releases in his home studio.

“I am so glad that I have written this song, Aking Mahal, as it is a song that represents the journey of myself and my wife Yzel when we had our long-distance relationship when she was in Dubai working as an OFW before we got married,” he said.

With over 20,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and 21,000 followers on Instagram, Jonah is the definition of a self-made artist, devoting time and effort to every aspect of making and releasing music. 

“Being independent means preparation from the beginning to the end, involving writing songs, recording, mastering, artwork, social media and marketing. All of these are all connected. Independent artists are not signed artists which means everything is at their own cost, time and sweat.” 

While a long way from his former home in Pampanga, where he learnt his very first tune Leron Leron Sinta and sang in the church choir, Jonah’s roots are still firm in his music today which sees gospel influences and songs performed in Tagalog as well as English.

For any other updates, Jonah can be followed through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JonahManzano.

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