In case y'all didn't know, I immigrated to Canada from the Philippines in February 2002. I brought my Original Pilipino Music (also known as OPM) and import cassette tapes, since compact discs in Manila are expensive to an 18-year-old unemployed university student and online music downloads were then way out of my radar, when I came here.
Anyway, I started friending (sorry, Lake Superior State University Word Banishment Committee) Filipino celebrities on Facebook last year. Roselle Nava, the singer known in the Philippines as the Sentimental Diva, is one of them. Before Kelly Clarkson came in my life, Roselle was my all-time favourite singer. I bought all her records and enjoyed lip-syncing to her songs, since I couldn't - still can't - sing like she can. Unfortunately, CDs are affordable here so my cassette tapes, especially my Roselle Nava tapes, are now collecting dust. (If someone can convert my cassette tapes into mp3s, that's great!) Roselle has released three albums since, including Forever Love Songs, released under mega-record company Viva Records.
Unfortunately, Roselle doesn't have an official website. Her only songs on the Canadian iTunes Store are those part of movie soundtracks. My eBay and Amazon.ca searches turned up nothing. So I tried Googling her name and found myself going through several online Filipino stores (e.g. Kabayan Central, ABS-CBN's Starry Starry Store, and Divisoria.com). There are also online music download sites, but most of them are free mp3 download sites that may or may not be legit. I usually pay for my music, unless I'm absolutely desperate for an album or a song. Anyway, only some of Roselle's albums are available on these sites. For example, her two recent studio albums, Bare and Forever Love Songs, are available on Kabayan Central; the cost for each CD is USD$12.99, excluding shipping and handling. On the other hand, her first four albums are available on one online music store (whose name and website I can't remember).
Will there ever be a complete online store - physical CD or digital music - for Filipino music? It's exhausting to search for a certain discography, especially when the artist has no official website and you're an ocean apart. It took me hours looking for a site where all Roselle Nava's music is available, and yet I didn't find one.
I can, of course, purchase a CD at a time, but shipping and handling fees may cost more than the CD itself and it takes at least two weeks for the CD to arrive. On the other hand, digital music downloads cost from zero (for free mp3s) to the physical CD's cost. But there are no shipping and handling fees and it only takes an hour or two to download an album.
I've tried iMesh before, but I had to quit it because I don't want to pay $8.95 a month when I don't even buy music from the site. By the way, it took iMesh a month and a few e-mails (one of which to convince me to stay with iMesh) to cancel my subscription. Although, I wonder if I can get Roselle's last three studio albums for free, now that my paid subscription is cancelled. Hmmm...
So, should I buy the CDs online? Or should I take a chance with these digital download sites, whether free or not?