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French journalist-turned-musician sings fun praises of the Philippines


It’s truly more fun in the Philippines. Not enough people know how beautiful the Philippines is and how kind the Filipinos are.

Least you think that’s a Filipino’s self-serving worship of all that is deep-blue in our enticing waters with its beaches, impish and angel-white frothy clouds framed against green and majestic palm leaves, adobe centuries-old architecture, ever-smiling bronze-skinned pretty maidens, and unstudied hospitality all over town, THINK AGAIN!

That is an unabashed estimation from happily single, thirtyish Frenchman Julien Drolon, who says that while he misses his hometown of Nantes in France’s northwest and his mother and siblings, he loves living in the Philippines.

He first came to Manila in 2007 and, between trials and errors and then snippets of success, 2012 found him with an unstoppable music career which Filipinos helped shape and had taken him to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Spain as well as most of the Philippines.

”Phil So Good” is the sum total of that current success, a tri-lingual music video album where he also gets to dance in front of Philippine iconic sites as the Fort San Pedro in Cebu City and the City Hall of Davao, and be featured in Palawan, the Magellan Cross in Cebu, Intramuros, Bohol, and Manila Bay, among others.

”Phil So Good” is the third track in the album of the same title, where he sings and dances in French and English with Filipino-British celebrity entertainer Rhian Ramos rapping up the vocals in Filipino.The other tracks are “Free to Love,” “No More Divisions,” “Wake Up,” ”Peace through Music,” and “End of Time.” It was “No More Divisions” that first brought him to the attention of Jimmy Antiporda, a respected leader in the industry who offered to produce a video for it.

The Embassy of France, the Alliance Francaise de Manille and Entertainment Circuit launched the album recently. Supporting performer and rapper for the track, Rhian, was in attendance and parried questions about her current romantic tune with professional rapper KC Montero.

The expression “feels so good” was played around with to serve as the title of this first music album in the Philippines to be produced in the USB digital platform by Entertainment Circuit. As we all know, Phil is the shorthand for the Philippines while it also means “love” in ancient Greek.

“Yes the Philippines is so good and the love is so contagious that I want to dedicate my first album to my Filipino friends,” says Julien. He counts Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez as among his friends for this project.

Right now, Julien is in Europe plugging his first international baby and admittedly quite neglecting his previous career as a journalist for such mainstream publications as “USA Today” and the “New York Times Magazine.” The jostling part of journalism was high-pressure, he says, but anyway he is still writing : lyrics for the happy, peaceful and positive soul.

The Julien-Rhian partnership on this tune was bound to happen: both are frustrated music persons while doing good in non-music pursuits.

Rhian describes herself as a bathroom singer and chanced upon an opportunity to do a music video with a newfound skill as a rapper. “I might just pursue it,’ she says sheepishly, aware that everyone knows she is presently connected with KC Montero.

Meanwhile, Julien, a fan of Jamiroquai, Bob Marley and Michael Jackson, came to the Philippines, took up the ukulele, realized it jibed with his love for reggae and the tropics, and began to do lyrics. He also likes it that the Philippines is “sooooo beautiful, very affordable, with so much heart and love.”

Entertainment Circuit describes “Phil So Good” as a “funky-pop song backed by the ukelele rhythm and flawless synths.” The lyrics refer to Julien’s appreciation of the Philippines and the places he visited, full of infectious chorus” and displaying the obvious chemistry between the two.

”Phil So Good “might refuse to leave your head,” warns the producers.

How did Julien, who describes the video as “about sending a positive image of the Philippines to the world,” come to write “Phil So Good”?

Ironically, it was his friends and family in France—the same people who are now totally supportive of his decision to live in the Philippines--who wanted him to stay out of it..

”I feel so happy and inspired since I live in the Philippines and it saddened me when my relative suggested that I should come back to France because they heard in the news that it was dangerous,” Julius said. “Not enough people know about the Philippines is and how kind the Filipinos are. I wanted to write a song about it focusing my work on positive aspects of the Philippines.” And so he did.

Already, the album has more than 150,000 views on You Tube and in early June, it became one of the most popular stories on Yahoo Philippines! Julien is very sure he has no problems marketing his project in Europe and “perhaps getting them to come over and have fun here,” he told this writer. He has guested in many media platforms and unwittingly plugged about the good times anyone would have the Philippines, how much more fun it is when you are in it up close and personal.

Julien arrived here in 2007, and a year later, following some reflective moments in Mexico, he decided that what he wanted to become was “an international artists and contribute to promote peace and unity through music.” He chose to remain the Philippines.

The rest is history that also afforded him to work with Filipinos Charice and Maria Aragon and have his song” No MoreDivisions” produced. The latter catapulted him to the awareness of music scenarists, at the Hong Kong Asian Music Conference and later at the China Music Industry Park in Shanghai, among others. His video has appeared even in Spain. Julien’s Philippine career was officially launched last year, with his first SM Mall Tour and performing in Metro Manila, at the Panangbenga in Baguio and Alasimbo in Puerto Galera.

His genre is “universal and refreshing,” noted for its variety of styles and influences from pop, funk, reggae and hip hop. In China, he will be distributed through China Mobile. When he returns from France, he will do a tour of the Robinson Malls in August and September.

He has a ladylove, he revealed, but no further. French actresses remain his favorites: Isabelle Huppert, Catherine Deneuve and Marion Cotillard, and, like any French gentle beau, he says Rhian is on his list of local performers.

By Gloria Jane Baylon

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