WATCH: 'I'm not allowed to speak in Filipino' – Sponge Cola vocalist

MANILA, Philippines – Singer-songwriter and Sponge Cola vocalist Yael Yuzon resorted to translating his band's song, "Jeepney," at the LG G6 launch at the SM Megamall Fashion Hall last Tuesday, April 18, after he was reportedly told by SM Megamall management that he was not allowed to play Filipino songs at the event.

"Technically, I'm not allowed to speak in Filipino," Yuzon told the crowd at the launch, "so I'm going to translate this song for you."

Yuzon likened the experience to an "obstacle course," telling his audience he was translating on the spot.

"Pinaglaruan ko na lang (I just played with [the translation])," Yuzon said in a phone interview with Rappler on Wednesday, April 19. "It was weird, but it was fun. I like playing with words."

Rappler asked SM Retail for comment and received this initial statement:

We apologize for the miscommunication regarding the performance of Spongecola at SM Megamall. Yes we do encourage global language in the mall but we do not disallow OPM's without explicit lyrics. The concern is the loud drums that cause noise pollution to the shoppers and may cause inconvenience to both tenants and shopper.

But Yuzon performed alone, without the rest of his band, and with an acoustic setup. A quick Google search shows that "Jeepney" does not contain explicit lyrics.

SM followed up with this official statement:

We would like to clarify the information being circulated online regarding performances that happen in our malls. 

We would like to reiterate that we promote all international and local entertainment acts in all our mall event areas nationwide. Moreover, we have been a proud supporter of the Filipino Talent as we promote many celebrity and movie mall tours as week long celebrations of Independence Day and Linggo ng Wika. 

We are now looking into this matter carefully and will reach out to the concerned party. We apologize for any inconvenience this incident may have caused at this time.

Yuzon was the opening act at the phone launch, and was among a group of endorsers that demonstrated the product's features. with reports from Gelo Gonzales/Rappler.com

Marga Deona

Marga writes about tech, sports, and music, but her actual role in Rappler is to tinker with tools so that storytellers could thrive.

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