Ferddie's World

Friday, August 17, 2007

Eto Na Apo Sila...Ulit! (The Apo Hiking Society)

The Apo Hiking Society.....during their younger years

I said it once I’ll say it again. “I generally view musical revivals with scorn and suspicion. For one, I don’t like artists who are not creative enough to make a name for themselves but merely ride on the popularity and success of well known names and songs. Secondly, a number of these revivals simply don’t live up to the standards the original songs and their artists have established.”

But last year’s tribute to the Apo Hiking Society by some of the country’s hottest bands was something I couldn’t simply ignore.

To many Filipinos the “Apo Hiking Society” was and still is a significant cultural icon of Original Pilipino Music or OPM. I couldn’t imagine the groovy 70’s during my primary education and my high school days of the early 80’s without their music.

Pinoy musical icons of the 70's and the 80's

Ask anyone from my generation and they’ll probably tell you the same thing. I mean, who never sang “Pumapatak Na Naman Ang Ulan” when they were kids especially during the rainy season or danced to its beat during the annual school field demos. Who never sang “Mahirap Talagang Magmahal Ng Syota Ng Iba” when smitten over another guy’s girl friend? Who never serenaded their loved ones with classics like “Panalangin” or “You Gave a Me Reason” or pleaded with the seemingly undecided woman of your dreams with the words of the song “Ewan”?

The group's ala Beatles 'Abbey Road' record album cover
with former manager Butch Dans

Trivia: Driving the brown car in the background was balladeer Marco Sison.

The group - ten years together

Trivia: This was the cover of the album that had the most number of APO hits!

After decades of performing, still wacky as ever

Well in 2006, many of these familiar APO tunes of my childhood were revived, remade and reinvigorated with a distinct rock and roll twist. On the top of my list is the heavy metal version of “Doo Bidoo” by Kamikazee, “Batang-bata ka pa” as interpreted by Sugarfree, and the retro adaptation of “Yakap sa Dilim” by Orange and Lemons. Also noteworthy are the renditions of Imago (“Ewan”) and the nearly identical to the APO version singing of “Awit ng Barkada” by the Itchyworms.

The album which reportedly turned gold less than a week after its release was a phenomenal artistic and commercial success.

Guess what? This year, they were at it again. Roughly a year after the release of the “Kami nAPO Muna”, Universal Records in collaboration with Myx Channel came out with a second tribute album featuring a different of set APO songs not found in the first one.

Though I think the first would be a very hard act to follow, the second album entitled “Kami nAPO Muna Ulit”, could still stand alone on its own. Return performances of Kamikazee, Imago, Itchyworms, Spongecola, Parokya Ni Edgar, Shamrock, Mcoy Fundales of Orange and Lemons, Raimund Marasigan of Sandwich was mixed with renditions from equally well known bands like True Faith, the Radioactive Sago Project, the Bloomfields, Silent Sanctuary, Hilera, Up Dharma Down, and Dicta License plus cuts made by new bands like The Spaceflower Show, Scrambled Eggs, Paramita, Concrete Sam and Chillitees.

While I didn’t quite connect with the new versions of American Junk (one of my all time APO favorites) or Syotang Pa-Class (I didn’t like the old version much either) and some of the less known APO songs, I had a blast with a good majority of what this album had to offer. I thought Silent Sanctuary had a very good interpretation of “Tuyo Na’ng Damdamin” especially with their violin and cello infusions. Same with the saxophones of the Space Flower Show and retro new wave voice of Mcoy Fundales with the song “Salawikain” and the kick ass guitars and drums for “Tuloy ang Ikot Ng Mundo” by Dicta License, “Princesa” by Itchyworms and Armi Millare’s (of Up Dharma Down) cool vocals in “Kaibigan”.

Though Chris Padilla of Hilera’s vocals could have done a little bit more justice to the song “Mahirap Magmahal ng Syota Ng Iba”, I found the band’s overall rendition was good enough to merit doing a cover of one of my most favorite APO songs.

The Bloomfields’ “Love Is For Singing” was in a class of its own! This was a case of a perfect match between the band and the song. Apo’s original of this song wasn’t really part of the favorites’ list but the revival version sure is!

Apo Hiking Society.....in their senior years.....

...and still making good music together!

From a group originally called the Jose Rizal Bullet Proof Vest Company, Apo Hiking Society members Danny Javier, Boboy Garovillo and Jim Paredes have indeed gone a long, long way in providing direction and strength to what is now called as Original Pilipino Music or OPM. Furthermore, if this brand of home grown music as reenergized by today’s hottest and upcoming local bands can bring the young and the old to enjoy music together like it has for me and my kids, it’s something worth listening to and blogging about.

On your 38th year as the Apo Hiking Society, I salute you and everyone who had been part of your continuing musical legacy!

May you continue to create beautiful and inspiring music together!



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