As many native Filipino musicians might agree, the thought of becoming a successful rock musician in the United States is a distant dream. Even those with the advantage of American-born roots, have a slim chance for mainstream musical success.
Well, if you are feeling down on your musical luck, buckle your seat belts and keep reading. You are about to hear a thrilling story detailing how a native Filipino’s music dreams are coming true.
Magna Libra is a New York City based rock band led by Filipino-born, musician Otan Vargas. Raised in one of the poorest regions of the Philippines, Vargas faced poverty and adversity at every turn. He was exposed to music at an early age, as his father was an international entertainer, and Vargas quickly grew to love the guitar and singing. As a teenager, the urge to pursue a music career settled in. Knowing the difficult nature of a musician’s life, his family dissuaded him. For many years, while continuing to hone his craft as a hobby, he kept the roar of his dream of writing music, singing and playing guitar full-time relatively quiet.
In 2006 Vargas traveled to America. The lion on the inside grew impatient. Not only did he want to share his life experiences through music, but he also felt a burning desire to share what music was teaching him about life. His outlet soon became recording videos of himself playing guitar and singing, and posting them on YouTube. As fate would have it, Aaron Lewis, the famous American rock musician of the band Staind, took note of Vargas’ amazing talent after watching his video!
Even with the lucky stroke of exposure and recognition from a famous musician, Vargas had a long road ahead. He began playing small venue after small venue, suffering an artist’s life with stretched finances and little stability. Although commercial success was not knocking on his door, these turbulent times provided Vargas with inspiration for his song lyrics, and he persevered.
Fast forward eleven years to 2017. Otan Vargas is now the lead singer of the band Magna Libra. Magna Libra is also home to bassist Rich Mollo and guitarist Steve Seigerman with a special appearance made by drummer Sal G of Staind. This Filipino-led band debuted their single Ground in March of 2017, which unleashes a powerful balance of soulful singing and hard rock instrumentation. More music is to come at the end of this year.
Vargas now plays for crowds sizing over 5,000 people and continues to live his musical dream with Magna Libra. Far from his poverty stricken Filipino roots, Vargas provides inspiration to his fellow Filipino dreamers and is proof that dreams can come true.
By BRENDA LEE CRISTIANO
To view Magna Libra’s latest music and lyric video, visit https://www.magnalibra.com/.