Monday, March 28, 2016

The King: Yoyoy Villame

Since my birthday has gone & went, I have long since been in deep contemplation as to which local band to feature. With so many crazy talented acts to choose from, I guess I will selfishly take this oportunity to write about someone has been of the greatest influence to me - without whom, I would have never even existed. People of the Earth, it is with the utmost love and reverence that I introduce to you - my father, the late Yoyoy Villame.

 Photo credit: EJ Dalupang

To those of you who are relatively young and unfamiliar with pre-MTV/Youtube/Internet Streaming OPM - there was once a man who came from the tiny town of Calape, Bohol who wanted to share his talents to the world at large. From such humble and hard-scrabble beginnings, he ultimately attained success as the King of Novelty after a lot of blood, sweat, tears and a little help from industry people who had extraordinary faith in what he had to offer. Unlike the worrying modern explosion of pre-teen stardom, he made it big in the latter part of his life which proves true the old adage "Try and try until you succeed." In his time, the goverment was very supportive and proud of our local music that his songs had become a large part of everyone in all islands of the Philippines ( something that I wish would recurr in our lifetime)  - his songs have been used as part of morning exercises; a candid method of memorizing historical events; if you would believe it - a whimsical way to remember places and local seafood. His songs have covered a vast majority of topics done in such a way that when heard - it is distinctly Yoyoy.

 source: Internet

 No other artist in my mind has recently made something that's funny, heart-gripping and educational all at the same time without even using sexual innuendos. It is somewhat an inspiration and a source of frustration, as even I do not have the faintest idea of how he was able to formulate it. You could call it genius, the pulse of the masses, the midas touch or a magical skill - but regardless of a solid conclusion, I will always and forever be in awe of my father's talents.

  source: Internet

Up until now, it still warms my heart when people from all walks of society share to me how my father's music have made a huge impact in their lives. It always makes me feel that in a lot of ways, my father's legacy is continuosly taking care of me, my siblings and even generations of Villames after us - good music it seems can never be taken to the grave. I will not deny that my father's work has diminished in its popularity as trends come and go, not unlike the ebb and flow of the seas. What makes me sad is that my father has never been awarded as a National Artist - even post-humously. I guess all the powers that be no longer acknowledge the value of my father's contribution to the arts. However, I still place some optimism that it would happen. If not today, maybe tomorrow... or maybe even the day after that. You cannot build a future without studying the past lest we be doomed to constantly repeat its mistakes.

It is in this hope that generations long after us can learn and grow to appreciate our rich and colorful local music that makes us Filipino. So I end this article in the hopes that people reading this would take the time to share my father's music and all the other classical artists to the newer generation - if you don't have a cd or a cassette tape, you can also view them on Youtube you know ;)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Diaries of a Fan - Blackout Aurora

As my family recently celebrated my son's birthday a week ago, I got down to thinking as to what kind of life lessons I could impart on him. Now that I have lost both of my parents, I could consider myself lucky as I can still recall a huge majority of the wisdom they shared with me even though their ways were very much unconventional. I guess one of the best things I've learned in life is resilience. In the music industry, especially in the Philippines, being talented is not enough to make it big. You also need a fair amount of luck, a well-spring of patience and a truly resilient heart - which brings me to one of the local bands that have the lion's share on resilience. People of the Earth, I present to you - Blackout Aurora.

 I met these guys through working in the BPO industry and thru one of the production outfits I belong to - the Union of Sound. (More of them on the coming episodes) I have seen these guys play amidst injury, absence of a member or members, crowded venues, obscure gigs and even went as far changing their nom de guerre. And thru all it of it, one glaring fact remains - they are still playing. Together. I know it sounds like something out of a crappy, teenage drama that wants to make you want to slit your wrists but it is the butt-naked, honest truth. I was fortunate to have an actual sit-down with their vocalist after they played a benefit gig in Commonwealth Avenue who shared to me the colourful experiences he's had from forming bands, to submitting demos to record brokers and big-time producers, to living a starving artist's life in general and I have to say that I did not feel an ounce of pity; I was fascinated.

Most people would have thrown in the towel on the first uppercut of failure but these guys just keep and still keep on swinging. Honestly, I've seen a lot of great bands disintegrate over one lame reason over another but these guys ~ these guys still get up every morning, be a father or the supportive boyfriend, endure a day job and still manage to rock the stage at night! I am very very blessed to know these warriors of the art; their "no quit" attitude and professionalism is all but the icing on the cake.

Blackout Aurora's sound is crisp, clear and honest. They sound a lot like some-band-you-may-have-heard-of-but-not-really. Their sound is neither complicated nor simple. YOU could call it for a rudimentary pop but then they have a sick twisted habit of elevating their overall sound not just to highlight an emotion conveyed but also the essence of the song. As their name suggests, they suck you in the heart of darkness - only to show you the bright lights that wait in the end and leave you to your thoughts as you float in the emptiness space.

These gentlemen of the Queen City offer not only a reprieve from the usual but also a glimpse into the uncanny. You can be a rockstar all you want but only a truly resilient heart can stick it out with your bandmates with or without the glory, money and fame. Allen, Gboy and Ian are a cut far above the rest. I sure wish that up and coming bands or even the current ones take cues from these guys - that way, Filipinos would not be known only talented but also as true pros.

All photos from the band's fanpage. For more information on the band, please do check their fanpage on Facebook:

As for me, I will still be lurking in the shadows of the local OPM scene. Showing support and seeking the answers to life while being as drunk as I could ever be. See you next time kids!