The singer-songwriter talks about his creative process and Filipino roots.
American Idol season 18‘s Francisco Martin is Filipino-American. But since he was born and raised in the US, he hadn’t set foot in the Philippines until this year.
Martin performed at the Miss Universe Philippines 2022 pageant earlier this month. He premiered a new single called “Stay,” which he wrote for the pageant. That performance capped his first visit to his parents’ homeland.
“I was born in San Francisco and raised in Daly City,” Martin says. “My dad’s from Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, and my mom’s from Ilocos Sur. They’d tell me about how beautiful the Philippines is and what they used to do as kids.”
Martin admits he experienced major culture shock when he arrived. “My parents used to tell me how different things are here, and I see that now. The biggest difference is that Filipinos are so appreciative, kind, and welcoming. Not to say that Americans aren’t, but the Philippines has more of a community-based feel. The US is more individualistic.”
His parents made sure he grew up with a connection to his roots. They introduced Martin to music by OPM icons and spoke to him in Filipino as much as they could.
“My mom loves the 80’s classics. I listened to American rock bands like Dire Straits and Pink Floyd because of my dad. But he also played songs by Bamboo and the Eraserheads for me. That exposed me to different genres and perspectives. I got the best of both worlds, which is great.”
Martin credits his parents, particularly his father, with giving him a musical education. “My parents are musicians, so there was always music around the house. My dad played guitar and was in bands. He was the one who taught me to play all these instruments. He pushed me to do music. He’s the reason I have it in my blood.”
That made his performance at Miss Universe Philippines 2022 meaningful for Martin. Not only did he get to do what he loves, but he did it in his parents’ homeland, using everything his father taught him.
Francisco Martin on MUPH 2022
“I was very excited and grateful to be part of that,” he says of the pageant. “They gave me the opportunity to compose and sing a new song for them. My friend and I went into the studio, wrote a song, and sent it to them in under twenty-four hours. They were like, ‘What? How did you do that?’ I’m like, ‘This is how we work.’ If you need something, a certain idea or vibe, we’ll get it done by the next day.”
Martin reveals that he’s a very prolific songwriter. “I used to start by writing on a guitar, but now I produce on my computer first. I make, like, 50 beats in a day. If I spend too much time on a song, I get too in my head about it. It’s like it’s not coming from my heart anymore. That makes me not like the song, you know what I mean? So I always make new songs when I get inspired.”
He says receiving so much love on his first visit to the Philippines touched him. Martin has always wanted to perform for his Filipino fans, but he had to wait because of the pandemic. Now that things are looking up, he’s planning to spend more time with them.
“I want to connect with my Filipino fans. For two years all I could do for them was go on Zoom and play online shows. COVID-19 deprived me of a real connection with them, but now I can actually build a fanbase here. I’m very appreciative of their support.”
Featured Image Daniella Sison