Kami nAPO Muna: A Tribute to APO Hiking Society

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I wrote this article many years back for the Writer’s Guild’s (now defunct) blog, Project Backspace, in SPi.

“Nandirito kami ang iyong barkada mong tunay, aawit sa’yo. Sa lungkot, at ligaya, hirap at ginhawa kami kasama mo.”

The decision of Jim Paredes in 2005 to migrate to Australia with his family left me flabbergasted. I thought this would surely be APO Hiking Society’s final bow. The first bow was in 1998 when their show, Sa Linggo nAPO Sila, which ran for only three years went off the air. Just like other artists who became famous and simply disappeared into thin air, I thought I won’t be seeing them after conceding defeat to their noontime show rival. I was really saddened by the first. I was about to surrender my high hopes after the second.

I had not told anyone else until today that yes, I am an avid fan of Danny Javier, Buboy Garovillo and Jim Parades, more known as the APO Hiking Society, since I heard their song Batang-Bata Ka Pa the first time when I was seven. I had been very discreet about this, fearing I’d be stigmatized by my peers as being baduy or old-fashioned. Finally, I’ve found the source of strength to say it all today when the Kami nAPO Muna: Tribute to APO Hiking Society album was released!

It is said that never shall the twain meet but this album simply disproved that. It is really like bringing the legends and the newbies to meet halfway. This 2-CD tribute album comes not only with a compilation of renditions of today’s famous rock bands, but also with another CD showcasing the original versions of APO, albeit digitally re-mastered. Interestingly enough, the “new age” CD is designed with repetitive illustrations of Danny’s, Jim’s and Buboy’s faces superimposed on a blood red background while the “premiere” CD is in black and gold colors. This was done for the benefit of younger audiences who may not be familiar with APO music. The compilation suggests listening to the black CD first before they move on and headbang to their idol band’s versions. No matter how excited you may be to check out Parokya ni Edgar, Kitchie Nadal, or The Dawn’s versions in the album, I highly recommend you play the original version first. Iba pa rin ang orig!

Performing popular songs with a new twist would have been easy but not if it is a tribute to OPM icons like the APO. Anything less would be an insult to them and to APO diehards like me. The album, overall, has achieved its utmost purpose of paying tribute without compromising the unique stylistics of each band. Kamikazee, for that matter, keeps its unruly and stubborn performance style of singing Doo Bidoo. At the same time, they keep some differential sparks that APO was known for—the feel-good, at times perky tempo, their voices unified in oftentimes satirical yet optimistic interplay of trials and triumphs inherent in the lyrics.

For more top picks, Orange and Lemons’ version of Yakap sa Dilim was a hit with me. This band can truly render their listeners breathless while listening to their own rendition of this APO classic hit. Even the distinct 70’s sound of this song has so enamored Orange and Lemons that they could have done this tribute as a solo gig. Itchiworm’s attempts at combining varying music genres plus the very candid and funny dialogues with peers while performing all paid off in giving justice to Awit ng Barkada. Doo Bidoo is a trademark hit of APO; thus the version that Kamikaze came out with was likewise spiced with expected wackiness and hilarity, very entertaining and was done in good taste! Kitchie Nadal, on the other hand, gives a soothing, feel-good rendition of Pag-ibig. Barbie Almalbis experiments as she applies her distinct singing style to the only English APO song included in the album, When I Met You.

Truly, the APO Hiking Society is a story of three brave souls who have taken risks in their musical and personal lives to write and perform their songs even if fear, apprehensions, and frustrations came along their way. As fate would have it, they also are the best mentors to the young bands featured in the album who are lucky enough to be inheritors of these immortal APO songs. As one of the possibly few younger people who admire their work, I salute Danny, Buboy and Jim for bringing to life songs which have given color to our lives.

Kampay!

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