By Nickie Wang/Manila Standard Today
“I still retain images of the Big Dome lighted with cell phones everywhere in the audience like points of happy light sending out warm affectionate signals to us on stage.”
Jim Paredes wrote these lines on his blog few hours after the APO’s successful three-hour-and-eight-minute concert at the Big Dome on Saturday, September 20. He is referring to the moment when the audience at the Araneta Coliseum cooperated by raising and waving their cell phones up in the air while he, Boboy Garrovillo and Danny Javier were singing their classic “Kabilugan ng Buwan.”
More popularly known as The Apo Hiking Society or simply APO, the troika of these quick-witted yet wholesome gentlemen made everyone at the Big Dome laughed, smiled and reminisced through songs that have been a part of their lives.
For 39 years, the APO has made notable contributions on the local music scene and has become a formidable force that adheres to Original Pinoy Music advocacy. The APO has 26 albums under its belt and produced numerous hits that most OPM lovers grew up with.
Who would ever forget “Batang-Bata Ka Pa,” “Ewan,” “Awit ng Barkada,” “When I Met You,” “Blue Jeans,” “Panalangin,” “Doobidoo” and “American Junk,” among many others? Many followers considered these songs as the hymns of their lives for they are enclosed with messages that describe Filipino peculiarity, lament social illness, draw positive energy, and ingrain pure emotions.
Unlike other concerts, Apo of the Philippines: Finally… at the Big Dome took the stage on time. This was the very reason why some early birds were distracted by latecomers who were finding their seats in the dark. There were attendees who came as late as 10 p.m. considering the concerts started exactly at 8.
Flocked by more than seven thousand attendees at the beginning of the show, it opened with a band playing some recognizable APO classics before Raymond Marasigan graced the stage with a rap performance. The crowd gave him a loud applause when he hummed “Wala pa nung Myx, wala pa nung MTV, wala pa nung Betamax, meron nang APO,” and heralded the most popular trio on the land.
Jim, Boboy and Danny were clad in tricolor outfit that symbolizes the Philippine flag. They opened the show with an excerpt from “Doobidoo,” followed by “Blue Jeans” and “Ewan.”
Noticeably, even after four decades, the trio has maintained the same voice quality people can hear through their records and live performances furthered by their undeniable charisma, and their reunion at the Araneta after several years of hiatus in performing live in a big venue is no exception. Danny can still belt with ease and Jim and Boboy can still strut while singing.
After the opening salvo that earned applause from the grown-ups and youngsters alike, it was followed by “Panalangin” that the trio dedicated to fictional lovers Jun and Julie who became a married couple because of a serenade done by the Apo one early morning at the office of the woman.
In 2006 and in the following year, the country’s most prominent bands collaborated to pay tribute to the great compositions of the APO. Kami nAPO Muna and Kami nAPO Muna Ulit were released and achieved multiplatinum status. The younger generation was then introduced to songs their parents enjoyed. The trio said that even though young people recognize the songs in the tribute albums as contemporary compositions, the mere fact that youngsters sing these songs opened the APO to a whole new generation of audience. Apo Virgins (the term the trio coined to describe the people who saw their live performance for the very first time), were devirginized during the concert with the original versions of “Doobidoo” and “When I Met You.”
The APO never failed the expectation of the crowd, aside from rendering massive classic hits “Pumapatak Ang Ulan,” “Tuyo Na’ng Damdamin,” and “Paano,” they also had their former vocal coach Mon David to sing with them. David shared the stage with APO in performing a cappella “Lumang Tugtugin.”
They also had Jon Santos guest-appearing as president GMA standing on the podium when they performed a satiric bohemian rhapsody number. The trio then delivered a nationalistic note with Muslim-inspired intro of “American Junk. ”
For the whole three hours of the concert, the audience saw how the APO survived the test of time and how they reinvent themselves to adapt to the modern music scene. With different musical taste, they performed “Di Na Natuto” in three genres. Jim did the song in soul, Danny in classical and Boboy in rock. After that, they did a medley of some folk songs flavored with modern-day music. The three then received a standing ovation after that jocose performance.
They fittingly ended the show with “Awit ng Barkada.”
During the opening, on the big screen that served as the backdrop of the stage, it was flashed that the concert is dedicated to the APO’s no. 1 fans (Jun, Dante and Bebot) who were victims of a mishap. Well, as part of the humor, the corruption of their names only means that the concert is actually dedicated to their triumvirate and to their friendship that has endured controversies and the harsh environment of the entertainment world.
For a band to actually last for four decades is something unattainable for most bands, vocal groups, musical groups and the like. Friendship, as the trio claims, is the significant foundation of their success. APO reinvents its sound and maintains the high standards that emanate from their virtuosity in the field they chose to traverse. Young musicians would want to do the same, but most of the time they are blinded by their selfish motives to advance and gain more popularity that only lasts for a couple of years or even less.
Seeing a performance like that of the APO while seated in an uncomfortable chair for three hours is an enough reason to be stuck in this kind of confinement. Audience will not mind poor sound system if their senses were charmed by an outstanding performance that does not try hard to impress. Some of the songs performed by the APO during the concert were unknown (let us talk about generation gap) but it is significant to note the APO is one of the artists, if not the only one in the country, that sings its own compositions. With no doubt, the Apo of the Philippines is a now a benchmark of local live performance.