Padayon

Isang basong tubig galing sa poso inutang na kanin at malamig na ginamos
kaunting asin sa plastik na platito busog na bay, puwede nang magtrabaho 
Sa aking balikat ay papasanin tatlong-daang kilo ng asukal limandaang sako ng denorado sanlibong kaha ng delata sampung tonelada ng arina
Kalawanging bubong, pader na may butas posteng pilay at sahig na paduyan-duyan ang aking palasyo’y pagkatibay-tibay pero puwede na ‘pre – tuloy ang hanapbuhay Ngayong araw ay tatapusin ko isang subdibisyon, limampung hektarya tatlong dosenang mansyon na magara higanteng gusaling likha sa semento kilo-kilometro ng kalsada
Oo, kay tamis ng buhay oo, kay daling umasenso  hangarin ko’y makatikim ng kaunting hayahay subalit kailangang ipagpatuloy ang hanapbuhay Pagkat walang ibang makagagawa nito paandarin ang makinarya bigyan ng buhay ang industriya patakbuhin ang ekonomiya padayunon ang pagpangita
Padayon!
Isang awiting obrero, para sa mga obrero, sa araw ng mga obrero.
May isa akong tweet na nabasa noong panahong wala pang masyadong jologs sa Twitter, mula yata kay ginoong Ramon Bautista. Kung gusto mong magkaroon ng inspirasyon sa araw-araw, pagmasdan mo daw ang mga ordinaryong taong pumapasok sa kanilang mga trabaho tuwing umaga.
Oo nga naman. Madalas, puro reklamo tayo sa hassles ng buhay. Puro reklamo sa trabaho at pag-aaral. Puro hinaing sa kung ano ang mga bagay na meron tayo. Gayong marami sa ating mga kababayang obrero, halos mamatay na sa trabaho na magkaroon lamang ng marangal na pagkukunan ng ipangtutustos sa kanilang pamilya. Ganoon ba dapat ‘yun? Kailangangmamatay upang makabuhay? Isang napakalaking kabalintunaan.
Hanga ako sa mga obrero, lalo na yung mga (mababa pa sa) minumum at arawan lamang kung sumuweldo. Tapos, hindi pa mga permanente at puro kontraktwal. Sila yung mga taong pinaghuhugutan ko ng inspirasyon para hindi sumuko sa buhay. Nakakahiya nga sa kanila. Ako na nga itong nakatapos at nasabing mas may pinag-aralan, ako pa itong tatamad-tamad sa trabaho. Paano kaya kung nagbiro ang tadhana at iyong skill at knowledge ko ay nasa kanilang mga masisipag? Napakalayo na siguro ng narating nila.
Kung hindi lang sana kalakaran dito sa atin ang kontraktwalisasyon. Kung ang trabaho ng mga obrero ay permanente at hindi na mamomroblema makalipas ang limang buwan. Siguro nga, metaphysicaly speaking, sa mundo ng negosyo at Kapitalsmo, maituturing na ‘necessary evil’ (o kinakailangan talagang umiral dahil ito ay nasa kaniyang natura gaano man kasama ang epekto) ang kontraktwalisasyon. Pero naniniwala akong hindi dapat iyon ang kalakaran sa tunay na mundo.
Isa sa mga paborito kong kanta ay ang ‘Padayon’ na orihinal na inawit ni Joey Ayala (na muling binigyang buhay ng Rivermaya sa kanilang album na “Isang Ugat, Isang Dugo”). Napakaganda ng mensahe nitong nagbibigay buhay sa manggagawa na huwag susuko at ang kanilang importansya sa lipunan.
Ang ‘Padayon’ ay isang salitang Bisaya na ang ibig sabihin ay ‘magpatuloy’ o ‘tuloy lang’. Sa katunayan, ginawa ko na ito bilang aking personal na ‘mantra’ at motto sa buhay. At kung hindi ka kabilang sa 85% ng mga tagasubaybay sa blog ko na hindi naman talaga nagbabasa (at may attention span lang ng dalawang talata), malamang ay napansin mong madalas ko itong gamitin sa aking mga naunang akda.
Ngayon ay Kapistahan ni San Jose, ang manggagawa. Siya ang itinuturing ng Simbahang Katolika na Patron ng mga obrero, ng mga manggagagawa. Ngayong araw din ipinagdiriwang sa buong kapuluan ang Araw ng mga Manggagawa o ang Labor Day.
Noong bata ako, itinuturing ko lang ang ika-1 ng Mayo o Labor Day bilang araw ng protesta ng mga aktibista at iba’t-ibang mga unyon ng manggagawa na kung misan, mapapa-“Punyeta!” ka na lang sa kanila dahil nagiging sagabal sa daloy ng trapiko, maingay, at parang mga ngawa lang nang ngawa na wala nang ginawa kung hindi magreklamo.
Pero kahit minsan, naisip mo ba na kung wala ang mga “maiingay” na ito, ang mga raliyista na nagreklamo, ang mga may hawak ng placard sa kalsada na dahilan kung bakit ka naipit sa ga-impyernong trapiko, hindi dapat  natin tinatamasa ngayon ang ilan sa mga pribilehiyo bilang mga manggagawa? Kung wala ang mga nakipaglaban na yan, wala tayong weekend, overtime pay, social security, sick leave,health benefits, at iba pa?
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Imbes na magreklamo dahil nahuli ka sa pagpunta sa mall para manood ng Iron Man 3 ngayong holiday, magpasalamat ka na lang kahit papaano.
Isa sa mga pangarap ko para sa ating Patria Adorada ay ang dumating ang araw na ang Araw ng Manggagawa ay maging isang araw na punong-puno lamang ng kasiyahan at pagdiriwang. Walang protesta. Walang sinusunog na effigy. Isang araw na pinapangaralan at pinasasalamatan ang lahat ng mga dakilang manggagagawa.
Sana, magkatotoo.
Mabuhay ang mga dakila at masisipag na obrerong Pinoy! Padayon!
Elsewhere:
  • NagResignAko.com – Kaunting katatawanan mula sa iba’t-ibang istorya ng mga manggagawang nagbitiw sa kanilang trabaho. Akala mo ay pinaka-impyerno na ang trabaho mo? Bakit hindi mo ikumpara sa kanila?
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Kaleidoscope Memories

For twenty pesos, you can take a peek at a different world filled with colors, shapes, and patterns. Spin it, twirl it, shake it, and let the beautiful world unfold before your eyes.

It was the kaleidoscope. It was the twenty-peso kaleidoscope that my father gave me when I was about six years old. It was about six inches long whose tube has a green color with drops and sprays of other different colors that looks like the psychedelic variant of jawbreaker candies. Back in the days of my childhood, of simplicity, of actually exploring on real things, I considered my kaleidoscope as something of great value. I brought it to school, brag it among my friends, and played with it whenever I got bored with my action figures.

As I grew up, I shifted my focus on other things. From the small peephole of the kaleidoscope, I focused on other bright, moving, and colorful things of the real world. I got engrossed with other things that are “in” during my growing up years – action figures of Gundam robots, computer games, and mini 4WD race cars among others. I totally forgot about my kaleidoscope.

Sadly, I can no longer find that kaleidoscope that my father gave me when I was a little boy. Maybe it got lost in our old house. Or maybe my parents gave it away, together with my other childhood stuff, during the time when I was away for eight years, studying. Odd as it may sound, I felt that something was also taken from me with the loss of that kaleidoscope. You may argue that why whine on that cheap toy when I can always buy a new one. But there is something on that green, psychedelic-looking, six-inch tube. It has a sentimental value. It has good memories with it. It reminds me of the days of me being innocent and carefree. It reminds me of the good old days of my childhood.

Then, there is this anthem by Francis Magalona called Kaleidoscope World. It was a song included in his 1995 album Freeman and later included in the compilation album, Best of FrancisM. Though I admit that it was already a bit late when I discovered this song (I think I was already in High School or about six years after it was originally released), I immediately fell in love its subtlety, catchy chorus, poetry, and its message.

The chorus, with its utmost simplicity, speaks of the vibrant and colorful message. Who would not love the lines “Every color, every hue is represented by me and you. Take a slide in the slope. Take a look in the kaleidoscope. Spinnin’ round, make it twirl in this kaleidoscope world..” ?

We all have different interpretations of songs. My understanding may be different from you or the composer. I saw Kaleidoscope World as a song of harmony and unity. It is the perfect example of “unity in diversity”. We may be different by race, color, social status, age, gender, intelligence, and power but we all form the beautiful and colorful shapes and patterns in the kaleidoscope. Together, just like the pebbles, papers, and other stuff inside the kaleidoscope we can form a beautiful world, a harmonious dimension, and a colorful humanity.

Perhaps, this is Kiko’s legacy not only to the Filipino people but to the whole world. This song, if only its spirit is lived and understood by most people, can be an anthem of change. This song can be a catalyst to inspire more people to accept each other despite of our differences. By this song, together with other great songs that speaks of peace, unity, and harmony, the world will know peace.

I first met Francis when I was about four years old. My kuya, an artist, was busy then painting a portrait of Francis Magalona in a one-eighth illustration board at our old kubo. The face was familiar. He’s the man behind the infectious patriotic song Mga Kababayan Ko. And I have watched him on the movie Mama’s Boys with Ogie Alcasid, Michael V., and Anjo Yllana.

I saw Francis as a revolutionary young face that will achieve great heights. He challenged the conventional music style of his age. His music paved way for the unification of the then-opposing sides of Pinoy hip-hop and rock by experimenting on the merging of rap with rock music. After all, music is the language that should unite us, not divide us.

But more importantly, I saw Francis as a young man, whose heart is united with his beloved land. He redefined patriotism. He made it easier for the youth of this generation to appreciate and understand. And he showed us how great a race and nation we are.

Pride. Identity. Meaning. Perhaps, he saw that before we can shout to the world that we love our country, we must first know what it really means to be a Filipino.

I saw Mga Kababayan Ko then as an anthem which promotes Pinoy pride and identity along with the songs Ako’y Isang Pinoy by Florante and Tayo’y mga Pinoy by Heber Bartolome (and later recorded and reinvented by the Man from Manila himself). These three songs, together with our regular Monday school anthem Ako ay Pilipino, were my first inspirations to love my country, to appreciate my Pinoy identity, and to be proud of my ancestry. And this was long before Pinoy Ako by Orange and Lemons and Noypi by Bamboo.

He may have gone at a young age but what is more important is that he had lived his life with meaning. He has influenced a whole generation. He has inspired many with his music. And with that, he is already immortal.

For the past months, I have always been stuck in front of a clean paper, staring at it for hours, unable to write. Maybe it’s writer’s block or lack of creative juices. Or maybe I fear that my readers would not appreciate my work. That is the reason why this blog has been “dead” for a long period of time.

As I have mentioned above, it was only during High School when I discovered Kaleidoscope World. the funny thing is, during the time when this song was originally released, it was also the time when I have been so engrossed with my kaleidoscope. I came up with this article earlier this morning when I tweeted about kaleidoscope and whether the kids of today know what this is. It is inspired, of course, by Francis Magalona’s song. I asked myself, when was the last time when I actually held and peeked at a kaleidoscope? What happened to my old kaleidoscope?

And then it came to me. I suddenly remembered the happy memories associated with my kaleidoscope. I felt young again, energetic, and full of dreams. That nostalgia brought me inspiration. And I didn’t realize, I was already writing this piece.

Perhaps, all I need is a little push from Kiko. Or his song for an inspiration. And just like a kaleidoscope, all I have to do is to spin it round, make a twirl, to see different patterns, colors, and shape.

I now see things from a different perspective.

Mabuhay ka at maraming salamat Kiko! Maligayang kaarawan!

Kickass photo courtesy of scarypet.deviantart.com 

Ringo’s Octopus

It has been repeatedly told that the men behind the most successful writing partnership, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, often dismissed Ringo Starr’s songs. Though it was a popular joke among Beatles fans, there are no actual records to prove Ringo’s rejection by John and Paul. But it may actually have a grain of truth since only two songs of Ringo Starr were included in the albums of The Beatles.

Between those two songs of Ringo, one stood out as my personal favorite – Octopus’s Garden. It is the song written by Ringo Starr (published under his real name Richard Starkey) from their 1969 album Abbey Road. though I am a big fan of the songs of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, there is something with this song, something cosmic, upbeat, and lively beat even though it deals with an underwater creature and not the usual Beatle theme about love, life, and friendship.

The Quiet Beatle, George Harrison, helped Ringo with this song. George said that is is a song by Ringo and I quote: “Octopus’s Garden is Ringo’s song. It’s only the second song Ringo has ever written, mind you, and it’s lovely.”

Ringo Starr shared how he was able to write this magnificent song:

I wrote Octopus’s Garden in Sardinia. Peter Sellers had lent us his yacht and we went out for the day… I stayed out on deck with [the captain] and we talked about octopuses. He told me that they hang out in their caves and they go around the seabed finding shiny stones and tin cans and bottles to put in front of their cave like a garden. I thought this was fabulous, because at the time I just wanted to be under the sea too. A couple of tokes later with the guitar – and we had Octopus’s Garden! (Beatles Bible)

And today, the whole world (or maybe the Beatle world) is celebrating the 72nd birthday of the man behind the Octopus, the one quarter of The Beatles, Ringo Starr. Ringgo may be considered by some as the luckiest no-talent in the history of music but that will not change the face that he is the drummer of The Beatles.

No-talent? How come? Let me share with you one of the best piece describing Ringo Starr’s incomparable talent. It is entitled Thirteen Reasons to Give Ringo Starr Some Respect by John Bryant.

Ringo Starr, the luckiest no-talent on earth. All he had to do was smile and bob his head. Oh yes, and keep a beat for three of the most talented musicians/songwriters of this century. What other impression could one have when judging the role that Ringo played in the success of the Beatles? Did Ringo really make a difference? Upon listening to the latest release by The Beatles, Anthology 1, you get a chance to listen to Pete Best and two other drummers play on over twenty songs. Was Ringo simply in the right place at the right time? The following items may help in going beyond the image:

  1. Ringo was the first true rock drummer to be seen on TV. All the Rock & Roll drummers featured with Elvis, Bill Haley, Little Richard, Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis were mostly R&B drummers that were making the transition from a swing drumming style of the 40’s and 50’s toward the louder and more “rocking” sound that is associated with “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. They were dressed in tuxedos and suits and held the drumsticks in the “traditional” manner of military, orchestra, and jazz drummers. Ringo showed the world that power was needed to put the emphasis on the “rock” in Rock & Roll music, so he gripped both sticks like hammers and proceeded to build a foundation for rock music.
  2. Ringo changed the way drummers hold their sticks by making popular the “matched” grip of holding drumsticks. Nearly all drummers in the Western World prior to Ringo held their sticks in what is termed the “traditional” grip, with the left hand stick held like a chopstick. This grip was originally developed by military drummers to accommodate the angle of the drum when strapped over the shoulder. Ringo’s grip changes the odd left hand to match the right hand, so that both sticks are held like a flyswatter. Rock drummers along with marching band and orchestral percussionists now mostly play with a “matched” grip, and drum companies have developed straps and accessories to accommodate them.
  3. Ringo started a trend of placing drummers on high risers so that they would be as visible as the other musicians. When Ringo appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, he immediately caught the attention of thousands of “drummers to be” by towering over the other three Beatles. Elvis’s drummer was looking at a collection of backs
  4. These same “wannabe” drummers also noticed that Ringo was playing Ludwig drums and they immediately went out and bought thousands of these drumsets, thus establishing Ludwig as the definitive name in Rock & Roll drums at that time.
  5. Ringo changed the sound of recorded drums. About the time of Rubber Soul (released Dec. 6,1965), the sound of the drumset started to become more distinct. Along with help from the engineers at Abbey Road studios, Ringo popularized a new sound for the drums by tuning them lower, deadening the tonal ring with muffling materials, and making them sound “closer” by putting a microphone on each drum.
  6. Ringo has nearly perfect tempo. This allowed the Beatles to record a song 50 or 60 times, and then be able to edit together different parts of numerous takes of the same song for the best possible version. Today an electronic metronome is used for the same purpose, but the Beatles had to depend on Ringo to keep the tempo consistent throughout the dozens of takes of the songs that you know and love so well. Had he not had this ability, the Beatles recordings would sound completely different today.
  7. Ringo’s “feel” for the beat serves as a standard for pop-rock record producers and drummers alike. It is relaxed, but never dragging. Solid, yet always breathing. And yes, there is a great amount of musical taste in his decisions of what to play and when to play it. In most recording sessions, the drummer’s performance acts as a barometer for the rest of the musicians. The stylistic direction, dynamics, and emotions are filtered through the drummer. He is the catcher to whom the pitcher/songwriter is throwing. If the drumming doesn’t feel good, the performance of any additional musicians is doomed from the start. The Beatles rarely if ever had this problem with Ringo.
  8. Ringo hated drum solos, which should win points with quite a few people. He only took one solo while with the Beatles. His eight measure solo appears during “The End” on the “B” side of Abbey Road. Some might say that it is not a great display of technical virtuosity, but they would be at least partially mistaken. You can set an electronic metronome to a perfect 126 beats per minute, then play it along with Ringo’s solo and the two will stay exactly together.
  9. Ringo’s ability to play odd time signatures helped to push popular songwriting into uncharted areas. Two examples are “All you Need is Love” in 7/4 time, and “Here Comes the Sun” with repeating 11/8, 4/4, and 7/8 passages in the chorus.
  10. Ringo’s proficiency in many different styles such as two beat swing (“When I’m Sixty-Four”), ballads (“Something”), R&B (“Leave My Kitten Alone” and “Taxman”) and country (the Rubber Soul album) helped the Beatles to explore many musical directions with ease. His pre-Beatle experience as a versatile and hard working nightclub musician served him well.
  11. The idea that Ringo was a lucky Johnny-on-the-spot-with-a-showbiz-stage-name is wrong. In fact, when Beatles producer George Martin expressed his unhappiness after the first session with original drummer Pete Best, the decision was made by Paul, George, and John to hire who they considered to be the best drummer in Liverpool – Ringo Starr. His personality was a bonus.
  12. The rumors that Ringo did not play on many of the Beatles songs because he was not good enough are also false. In fact, he played on every released Beatles recording (not including Anthology 1) that include drums except for the following: “Back In The USSR” and “Dear Prudence”, on which Paul played drums due to Ringo temporarily quitting the band, “The Ballad of John and Yoko”, again featuring Paul on drums because Ringo was off making a movie, and a 1962 release of “Love Me Do” featuring session drummer Andy White.
  13. When the Beatles broke up and they were all trying to get away from each other, John Lennon chose Ringo to play drums on his first solo record. As John once said, “If I get a thing going Ringo knows where to go, just like that..” A great songwriter could ask no more of a drummer. Except maybe to smile and bob his head.

He may not be my favorite Beatle (of course, it will always be John Lennon), He may have written only two Beatle songs compared to the hundreds by Lennon and McCartney, but he will always be the best and respected drummer.

Happy 72nd birthday. Ringo. Thank you for the music. Thank you for bringing us to the octopus’s garden. I will always be a fan.

Elsewhere:

  • Octopus’s Garden (Live) – I was browsing Beatles songs on YouTube when I came across this video. this was performed in 2005 – thirty-six (36) years after it was recorded. There is not much difference between the original recording and this live version. Just, wow. I have nothing bus respect to Richard Starkey.


Photo sources: Octopus’s Garden by Loris Lora and the Seven Faces of Ringo courtesy of Shannon McDonald.

My Journey in Space with Paul McCartney

It was a boring weekend sometime last year. I was lazily browsing music videos and concert footages of The Beatles on YouTube when I came across this amazing video – Please, Please Me performed by Sir Paul McCartney and his band during his The Space within US concert tour last 2005.

I hate doing comparisons when it comes to music but I thought to myself that Paul’s performance of Please, Please Me in this concert is better than the original recording on the 1960 album of the same title. Don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of the four Beatles – Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Starr – and their music but I think, this performance brought the song to a new level. Maybe because of technology (musical instruments, gears, effects, production) or maybe because of the diverse crowd that the song became livelier. I may be wrong but I think Paul and his band made this 1960 song apt for his 2005 audience and listeners.

After repeatedly raping the replay button of the abovementioned video, I searched and watched the other videos from the same concert that were uploaded by the same user. I got goosebumps when I heard the head-banging guitar riff of Helter Skelter (which, they said, is the best live version of the song); I felt that I was with the crowd when I watched the opening song Magical Mystery TourI felt like floating in the air with the love anthems I Will and Till There Was Youand I immediately went in front of my piano and play the song a la McCartney after I heard Penny Lane.

After seeing the videos, I told myself that I should wath the whole set of that concert. Unfortunately, the YouTube channel didn’t upload the other songs from the concert. So I find a way to obtain a copy. It took me more than two (2) weeks before finally getting myself a clear copy (you know, connection and seeders issue, if you know what I mean) but it was worth the wait. After repeatedly watching the whole concert, I never looked at Sir Paul McCartney the same way again.

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The Space within US is a concert DVD by Sir Paul McCartney released in november 2006. It is composed of the footage from his ‘US’ tour in 2005 in the United states in concurrence with the release of his chaos and Creation in the Backyard album. Joining him in the tour are his band members Rusty Anderson, Brian Ray, Paul “Wix” Wickens, and Abe Laboriel Jr.

The DVD gives us a close and personal view on what Paul McCartney’s 2005 tour looked like. It showcases his music, behind the scenes (backstage, the soundcheck, trips inside a private jet and a touring bus, and his surprise visit to a family whose three generations are fans of his), and interviews with some prominent persons such as Jay-Z, Paul Stanley of Kiss, former US President Bill Clinton, Tony Bennett, Cameron Crowe, and Steve Jobs.

The song opened with the Beatles classic Magical Mystery Tour and Paul played his his other hits – from The Beatles, Wings, up to his solo career – throughout the whole set of 28 songs and ending it with a bang with the abovementioned video Please Please Me.

Paul McCartney is a great and talented musician – there is no question in that. But what struck me most is how his influence spanned almost three (or four) generations of fans and musicians. Watching the concert video, I see families watching his show. There are also teenagers and young kids who were born long after Paul’s heydays in his stint with The Beatles and Wings. One writer remarked that the same audience who went screaming at The Beatles’ performance at the Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960’s (during their first visit in the US) were also the same audience watchin Paul’s 2005 tour – together with their children and grandchildren. A musical career spanning for almost fifty years? That is just, wow.

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My other favorite part of the concert video was when they did a live broadcast at the International Space Station. Yes, a live broadcast miles above the earth when Paul serenaded two astronauts, William McArthur and Valeri Ivanovich Tokarev, with the song English Tea as their ‘wake-up call’. One of them even described Paul as an ‘explorer’ just as they are because all of them are ensuring a bright future for all the kids of the earth.

I may have not watched the concert with the crowd at Anaheim, California but watching the video felt like being one with them, traveling in the vast space with Paul’s great music. Watching and listening to his concert felt like being carefree and floating peacefully in outer space.

This concert changed the way I view Paul McCartney. Yes, he may not be my favorite Beatle (it will always be John), but his music and legacy puts him on a certain, special place for my musical heroes.

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And today, on his 70th birthday, I salute the ‘greatest composer of the millennium’, the ageless Beatle, the Knight, and the other half of the Lennon-McCartney musical tandem. Thank you for the music. Thank you for the great anthems. I salute your legacy, good Sir.

I will always be a fan.

Ecce cor meum.

______________

Let me share you a personal experience on why we should teach today’s generation the difference between great music and crap. During one of my classes with my third grade students, I showed them a picture of The Beatles and asked them if they know who the Beatles are. After a few seconds of silence, one of them raised his hand and asked me,“Sir, are they trying to copy the hairstyle of Justin Bieber?”

Paalam Pilipinas: A Sugarfree Documentary

“Sila lang ang bandang hindi Hari ng Sablay” – Robert Javier, Musician, Producer, and Sound Engineer

 

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It was January 7 of last year when I first heard the sad news. It came from atweet from Sugarfree’s frontman, Ebe Dancel. He will leave his band. During that time, it was still unclear if the band is breaking up or its two remaining members, Kaka Quisumbing and Jal Tuguibao, will continue being a Sugarfree minus Ebe.

It was later confirmed in the succeeding days that Ebe Dancel would pursue asolo career and Kaka and Jal would do their own stuff. Sugarfree’s last weeks as a band were spent by doing farewell gigs on different bars and schools.

I was fortunate to watch one of their farewell gigs (which, unfortunately, my first time to watch them live) when they performed at the UPLB Feb Fair last February 17. 2011 (Technically, it was already February 18 when they performed). It was a ‘going back home’ performance for Ebe who was an alumnus of UP Rural High School. Together with hundreds of fans, I jumped to their opening song Kung Ayaw Mo na Sa AkinI joined the crowd in singing Mariposa, and I screamed when they played the crowd-favorite Hari ng Sablay. It was a beautiful night of celebrating the music of Sugarfree. I went home that night with a smile, thankful for having watched Sugarfree live before they part ways; but with a heavy heart because the gentlemen who made the anthems of my College years, would play together for the last time in a few weeks’ time.

And so the inevitable happened. On March 1, 2011, at the Eastwood Central Plaza, Sugarfree bade goodbye to their fans with the farewell concert, Paalam Pilipinas. I was not able to attend the concert but thanks to Jam 88.3 (who played an important role to stage this one) who aired the concert live, I felt that I was also there, drenched in the ran, singing, and shedding a tear for my heroes.

 

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During the entire concert, I stayed in my room, headset plugged to my ears, shutting the world. I also have a small piece of paper and a pen, scribbling the title of the songs from their set list. I did not let the other members of the household see me on the verge of tears. I sang. I cried. I smiled. After singing their last song Burnout, I told myself that’s it, we have lost another legend. Maybe because the members are too burned out and they need to rest. We never knew the exact reason of their breakup. It just happened. But at least, unlike others, they formally said goodbye. But as in all ending, there is a new beginning. Life must go on.

On August 1, 2011, five months after the farewell concert, Ebe Dancel released his debut album as a solo artist entitled Dalawang Mukha ng Pag-ibigAnd as for the two (2) remaining members, Jal Tuguibao continued his studies while Kaka Quisumbing did his own stuff. I am hoping that the remaining two would resurface on the music scene but that thing is yet to happen.

From time to time, whenever I feel reminiscing the good old days, I still listen to Sugarfree. I have almost forgotten the farewell concert but not their music. I have almost forgotten the pain of my heroes’ breakup. It has been almost a year and Ebe is achieving great heights as a solo artist.

Earlier yesterday, while browsing the news feed of Facebook, I saw a post fromAtTheWomb.com. the music hub of pelicola.tv, about the premiere of a documentary about Sugarfree’s farewell concert. And to add to my excitement, the premiere was yesterday (though they didn’t put the exact time). During the past months, I have resorted to the videos on YouTube to watch Paalam Pilipinas. But I told myself, there must be someone who documented the whole event. It must be shown for the benefit of thousands (or millions) of Sugarfree fans out there. I patiently waited (to the point of repeatedly refreshing the website) until they finally put up the videos at around 10:20 in the evening. And it was worth the wait.

 

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Paalam Pilipinas: A Sugarfree Documentary, tells about the final moments of Sugarfree as a band – from the band members’ respective houses, to the soundcheck, to the events backstage before the concert, and up to the emotional final song Burnout. This is a documentary featuring how the band broke up and not why the band broke up.

The documentary is divided into four parts. The first part shows Ebe Dancel and Kaka Quisumbing at the start of the day. Kaka shares his experience on the band’s farewell tour while Ebe shows his preparations for the final show. The second part shows the soundcheck and Jal Tuguibao giving his thoughts on the band’s breakup. The third part shows Jal at his home and what his parents have to say about Sugarfree. It also shows the what was really happening backstage while the crowd was waiting for the concert. The fourth, and probably the most emotional part, shows Quark Henares giving introduction before the start of the concert (and the emotional happenings backstage) and the band’s final performance, Burnout.

 

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I watched the documentary twice last night and the emotions I felt during the first time that I watched it was the same, if not more intense, than the first. It’s as if watching over a beloved on his deathbed. It’s as if seeing the love of your life for the last time. It’s as if losing a member of your family.

What moved me most, as what I have written above, was the last part. Though not the whole concert was shown in the film, it captured the emotional performance of the group. It also showed an emotional Ebe Dancel when he left the stage after the concert. But what broke my heart most (Spoiler alert!) were the lines ‘They were immediately ushered out of the stage after the concert. They parted ways as soon as they were brought to their separate exit points. There was no after party’. With that, I broke into tears.

I am no film nor movie expert but I can say that the cinematography was good. It captured (almost candidly, which was good, in my opinion) the emotion of the members and the music fans very well. I also have a problem with the audio on some parts but to sum it up, the documentary captured the essential – how Sugarfree said their goodbye to the fans and how the fans were affected – and influenced – by their legacy.

This documentary is a must-watch not only for the die-hard Sugarfree fans but also to those who are affected, in a way, by their songs. Even Ebe Dancel jokingly offered this concert to those who illegally downloaded their songs. It shows us how to properly say thank you and goodbye to the people who supported us and help us be put at the top.

I was lucky to grow up with the songs of Sugarfree. I was lucky to be influenced by their music. Their songs were my anthem of my college years – the period of my life when I was discovering my passion for music. Their songs were simple and honest. They touch the lives of their fans. and in my opinion, that is what a music or a song is all about.

Sugarfree may have gone but their music is what keeps them immortal.Listening to their music will help us bring to the happy memories of being a Hari ng Sablay, having a good time at Mariposa, reminiscing our Prom, singing the lullaby Tulog Na, and teling to someone, Huwag Ka nang Umiyak.

Maraming salamat Direk King Palisoc at sa bumubuo ng AtTheWomb.com sa dokumentaryong ito.

Maraming salamat Ebe Dancel, Jal Tuguibao, Kaka Quisumbing, at Mitch Singson sa musika at alaala.

Maraming salamat Sugarfree.

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Paalam Pilipinas: A Sugarfree Documentary – I know that you did not read this lengthy post so here’s the link of the documentary. Enjoy. Reminisce. And spread the word.

Elsewhere:

Remembering The Final Set

It has been three years since The Eraserheads gave us their final set. Three years after their record breaking concert. Three years since they formally bid us goodbye. Three years after their last bow. Three years after their last concert, and probably indeed their last.

 

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Perhaps, this is one of my biggest regrets as an Eraserheads fan. I was not able to watch their two (2) post-breakup concerts.

During their first concert at The Fort in August 2008, there were doubts if the concert would push through or not. One of the major sponsors backed out a few days before the concert due to a threat of a criminal case from the Health Department. There were no formal announcement of the selling of tickets. There were no formal promotion on the tri-media – just a press release from one of the major broadsheets. I could have made it to the concert. If only I were not drunk somewhere in Calamba that night.

My first attempt to watch them turned out to be a failure.

But as we all know, the first concert was cut short due to Ely Buendia’s health condition. After that, there were speculations if the concert would still push through for a second installment. And the fans got what they wanted. The band will work on their ‘unfinished business’.

The second concert, The Final Set, happened on March 7, 2009, a day after the Master Rapper died, at the SM Mall of Asia concert Grounds. Compared to the first one, this has a bigger venue, a formal promotion, and more or less a hundred thousand tickets available to accommodate more fans. It is said that this is one of the biggest concerts in our history.

Did I make it to the concert? Obviously no. I was then stuck at the Seminary’s confines, punishing myself by studying for our comprehensive examinations. My College Diploma depends on the result of that exam. Bitter as I was, I just resorted to listening to the songs of the Eraserheads on the radio. (I think it was the now-defunct station NU 107 who played Eraserheads songs the whole day in anticipation of The Final Set.)

It was just a consuelo for those who were not able to attend the concert to watch  The Final Set on GMA-7. The network aired it a few weeks after the concert. And I did not waste that opportunity. I watched it with the whole family. But there is still something lacking, something missing within me. Regrets. I could have watched them live.

And so it happened. March 7, 2009, Saturday, was an unforgettable event in Philippine music history. The Eraserheads, the music hero and inspiration of a generation, performed and bowed for the last time in front of their fans.

It was also during this date that Ely Buendia set flame to the famous “Sticker Happy piano.” You know, the one with the naked Joey Mead from the cover of their album “Sticker Happy”.

And for those who are asking the whereabouts of the sticker piano, the last time that I checked, it was at 70’s Bistro (46 Anonas Street Project 2 , Quezon City).

 

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Photo courtesy of Sir Chris Linag. For additional information, please read the article by Aldus Santos here.

Thank you Eraserheads for being a part of our childhood. Thank you for being the soundtrack of our growing up. Thank you for the good music. Thank you for being our heroes. Thank you for the memories.

Maraming salamat Ely Buendia, Raimund Marasigan, Marcus Adoro, at Buddy Zabala! The Eraserheads will never be erased from our heads. That is influence at its finest.

Francis Magalona, Filipino

It was Friday, March 6, 2009.  I was still drained from a week-long written revalida/ comprehensive examinations in Philosophy. Our superiors allowed us to unwind outside the Seminary’s confines, take a breath of fresh air, and forget the hardships of the week. We still have an oral revalida on the Monday to come, but that would be easy. I can ace it, I told myself.

I went to Robinsons Place Lipa with some of my classmates. We dined out, ate like a pig, and laughed off the hardships of studying Philosophy. After that, I excused myself and went to Netopia to surf the net and to relax. It was the heydays of Multiply, Friendster, and Yahoo! Messenger. Just like a warrior who survived the hardships of battle, I updated my friends and contacts that I surpassed the first, and the harder part of the Revalida (I could have just tweeted it then but Twitter was not yet known that time). When I logged out my Yahoo! account, I immediately saw an image of the Master Rapper, Francis Magalona, on the news box. (Believe it or not) I just saw the photo, but I did not dare read the headline because I was in a hurry to go back to the Seminary on time. I thought that Francis is going well on his battle against the Big C.

I went back to the Seminary later that afternoon, did my usual stuff, and followed the usual Seminary schedule. After dinner, we went straight to the TV Room for our scheduled TV Viewing and recreation. We tuned in on 24 Orasand were all shocked to learn the news that Francis Magalona passed away. Almost of all of us fell silent, stunned by his sudden demise.

After our compline, I went to my room and turn my radio transistor on. Almost all the radio stations are playing Francis Magalona’s songs as a tribute to the beloved Man from Manila.  In silence, I said my prayer for the eternal repose of his soul, and expressed my regret for losing another Filipino legend.

 

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I first met Francis when I was about four years old. My kuya, an artist, was busy then painting a portrait of Francis Magalona in a one-eighth illustration board at our old kubo. The face was familiar. He’s the man behind the infectious patriotic song Mga Kababayan Ko. And I have watched him on the movie Mama’s Boys with Ogie Alcasid, Michael V., and Anjo Yllana.

I saw Francis as a revolutionary young face that will achieve great heights. He challenged the conventional music style of his age. His music paved way for the unification of the then-opposing sides of Pinoy hip-hop and rock by experimenting on the merging of rap with rock music. After all, music is the language that should unite us, not divide us.

But more importantly, I saw Francis as a young man, whose heart is united with his beloved land. He redefined patriotism. He made it easier for the youth of this generation to appreciate and understand. And he showed us how great a race and nation we are.

Pride. Identity. Meaning. Perhaps, he saw that before we can shout to the world that we love our country, we must first know what it really means to be a Filipino.

I saw Mga Kababayan Ko then as an anthem which promotes Pinoy pride and identity along with the songs Ako’y Isang Pinoy by Florante and Tayo’y mga Pinoy by Heber Bartolome (and later recorded and reinvented by the Man from Manila himself). These three songs, together with our regular Monday school anthem Ako ay Pilipino, were my first inspirations to love my country, to appreciate my Pinoy identity, and to be proud of my ancestry. And this was long before Pinoy Ako by Orange and Lemons.

 

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But he was gone too soon. Had he not died on that fateful Friday noon of March 6, 2009, he may have personally done greater things for our country and to our countrymen.

But as in all war and tragedy, life continues. He may have gone too soon but his spirit, music, and legacy still continue. Thanks to her wife Pia and the rest of the Magalonas, the Francis Magalona Foundation was born.

The Francis Magalona Foundation was established to realize in each Filipino a true sense of Filipino pride, personal integrity and a commitment to positive change through awareness campaigns and personal development and skills building programs. Its tagline, Finding a Meaning in every Filipino, is an invitation to every Filipino to ask themselves the significance of their identities as a Filipino. How is it to be a Filipino? How do I promote my pride and identity to the whole world?

Up to this day, I still shed a tear whenever I see the videos of Francis Magalona’s death on YouTube. I may not know him personally but his patriotism was one of my influences. He is somehow responsible for what I am right now.

He may have gone at a young age but what is more important is that he had lived his life with meaning. He has influenced a whole generation. He has inspired many with his music. And with that, he is already immortal.

On the third anniversary of his death, let us remember The Man from Manila who have inspired many by his great music, who have been a good father to his children, who have been a good husband to his wife, and who have been a modern example of Filipino Patriotism.

You may have gone Francis but your legacy of music and patriotism will remain in our minds and hearts forever.

Mabuhay ka at maraming salamat Kiko!

Kickass photo courtesy of scarypet.deviantart.com