(On Spending Time with Some of Philippine Rock Artists, part 2)
In our recent one-month vacation in the Philippines, Inna and I were able to meet up and hang out with many iconic personalities in the Philippine Rock music scene. On January 26, 2012, there was a concert held at Music Museum in Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila—billed as “Rockin’ the Roots,” a project Rene Garcia formerly of Hotdog had conceptualized and which featured several of his fellow icons active in the ’70s Pinoy Rock music scene. Wanting to meet up with my friend Jett Pangan of The Dawn, I contacted him to ask where and when we could best see him. He said that my call was timely, for he would be taking part in the said gig in the evening of the day I messaged him. So, off Inna and I went to Music Museum (in Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila) in the evening. We didn’t have to pay the entrance; we told the ushers that we were there by Jett’s invitation.
The evening was really filled with fun music ’70s Pinoy rock–style. I may be only a little kid back in the 1970s, but my having become a consummate music enthusiast over the years has made me very familiar with the music of such Philippine bands. In fact, I with my own band have been able to perform with some of them in the 1990s in the Philippines and in the 2000s here in Winnipeg when such artists toured Canada—like Lolita Carbon of Asin and Pepe Smith of Juan de la Cruz Band.
Philippine Rock icons who graced the “Rockin’ the Roots” concert at the Music Museum included Pepe Smith, Lolita Carbon, Resty P. Fabunan of Maria Cafra, Gary Perez of Anak Bayan and of Sampaguita’s backup band, and Rene Garcia of Hotdog.
The presentation of the concert was a collaborative one, in which there was a permanent backup band and then the icons were called in one by one to perform some of the hits of their former bands—like Smith’s performing “Balong Malalim” and “Titser’s Enemi no. 1”; Lolita Carbon’s “Usok”; and Fabunan “Kamusta, mga Kaibigan.”
Focusing on the Musical Accomplishments
The artists and musicians whom we have watched might not be as popular anymore as they were during their former bands’ heydays, but the musical legacies that they with their respective bands have left the Philippine music history deserve them the respect and tribute of every true Rock music aficionado.
Garcia was the male vocalist and lead guitarist of Hotdog, a Pop Rock band popular in the 1970s. The band released its debut album, Unang Kagat, in 1974. Among the band’s many popular hits were “Pers Lab,” “Annie Batungbakal,” “Beh, ’Buti Nga,” “Bongga Ka, ’Day,” “Ikaw ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko,” and “Manila.”
Gary Perez—Anak Bayan and Sampaguita’s Backup Band
Perez is not only a guitar player but also a songwriter. He was a member of the pioneering Pinoy Rock band Anak Bayan, which released a self-titled album in 1977 containing the songs “Ang Probinsyana,” “Bangungot,” “Jeepney Rock,” and “Pagbabalik ng Kuwago.” Perez became also the guitarist and co-songwriter in the band of the Pinoy Rock female artist Sampaguita. With her, Perez co-wrote songs for her first and early albums, like “Bonggahan,” “Tao,” “Laguna,” and “Sa Diyos Lamang.”
Lolita Carbon—Asin and Nene
Carbon was the face and voice of the iconic Pinoy Rock band Asin, which has released eight albums: Asin (1978), Himig ng Pag-ibig (1979), Himig ng Lahi (1983), Awitin ng Bayan Kong Pilipinas (1985), Asin sa Atubiling Panahon (1986), Himig Kayumanggi (1987), Sinta (1988), Pag-ibig, Pagbabago, Pagpapatuloy (2001). Popular songs of Asin included “Masdan Mo ang Kapaligiran” and “Itanong Mo sa mga Bata.” In the 1990s, Carbon formed the band Nene and released one self-titled album, which contained new songs that included “Biyaheng Langit” and “Paraisong Liku-liko.”
Resty Fabunan—Maria Cafra
Fabunan was the guitar-wielding vocalist of the Blues Rock–influenced band Maria Cafra, one of the pioneers of Pinoy Rock music, Blues-style. Maria Cafra, whose chief songwriter was Fabunan, released a self-titled album in 1978, which contained the songs “Estranghero,” “Tala sa Umaga,” and “Kamusta, mga Kaibigan.” A followup was recorded, but it remained unreleased until 1990 when it finally saw the light of day as the album Ikalawang Yugto, which included the songs “Rock n’ Roll sa Tuwina” and “Mayroon Pang Kaibigan.”
Other musicians whom Inna and I met at the “Rockin’ the Roots” concert were the veteran bass player Rey “Eggpie” de Castro, who did sessions for Freddie Aguilar; Niño Mendoza (vocals, harmonica, guitar) of the Blues Rock band Blue Jean Junkies, which released a self-titled album in 2002; the drummer Lehi Rebosura; and the guitar player Roy Sadicon.
Thanks to Jett Pangan of The Dawn for inviting us to the concert “Rockin’ the Roots,” because of whose invitation gave us the privilege to attend for free and to go backstage to chat with the Rock musicians performing that night and to have photographs with them taken.