Being an APO kid

Sunday Life
Being an APO Kid

ala writer
By Ala Paredes
Sunday, September 28, 2008


I was going to pass up writing an article for this Sunday. I am still exhausted, physically and mentally, from the APO concert at the Big Dome last Sunday and the opening of my photo exhibit in Megamall last Tuesday. But then I read my daughter’s blog which I felt would make a good last article to cap the topics that I’ve been writing about the last three weeks, all dealing with my life as/with/an APO. Instead of leaving my readers without anything to read, I thought I’d share this wonderful piece written by my daughter Ala who lives in Sydney.

Last weekend, the APO Hiking Society celebrated their 39th anniversary at the Big Dome. I, on the hand, spent Saturday night doing dishes and homework in Sydney, though my heart would have given anything just to be there. I’m pretty sure that the Sydney contingent of the APO offspring were the only ones who weren’t there watching our fathers celebrate 39 years of their life’s work.

Not being there for such a grand culmination of their careers made me reminisce about what it was like growing up as an “APO Kid.” That is what they called us every time we guested on their TV shows Sa Linggo N’APO Sila, Sang Linggo N’APO Sila and, in the case of the Jim Paredes branch of the APO Kids, Tatak Pilipino.

We APO Kids grew up under the misconception that we were related by blood, as first cousins. I only realized we weren’t when I had to do a “family tree” assignment in third grade. I asked my mom where I should write the names of Danny and Boboy’s children and she told me that we weren’t actually related, though we might as well have been. Not only are the APO the ninongs (godfathers) of each other’s children but the APO, the APO wives, and the APO kids used to spend every summer and semester break on holidays together. My childhood summers are marked by memories of Davao, Hidden Valley and other places we all used to visit.

Another reason I thought the APO kids were related was that we shared certain obligations that came with being the offspring of one third of the APO. One obligation was having to come out on TV every Christmas, and every time it was our father’s birthday. Whether it was a live appearance or prerecorded, I remember all too well being squeezed by my mother into my Sunday best and being whisked away to ABS-CBN to stay hidden in a dressing room for hours and hours only to appear on camera for five minutes to greet my dad with a Happy Birthday. Even though we did it every single year, he would still act genuinely surprised and, on some years, even shed a tear or two. One year, me and my sister sang Too Shy To Say with him on one of those song numbers that are supposed to make people cry. Another year, my sister and I were made to co-write a song for my dad, which Ely Buendia of the Eraserheads contributed a melody to and sang onstage (I am pretty sure my memory is accurate and I did not just make that up. Feel free to verify, Mister Buendia).

Then there was that one year when we APO Kids had to sing Give Love on Christmas Day for the big ABS-CBN Christmas Special. The networks certainly capitalized on us on special occasions.

Along with the obligations came the perks. Perk number one was free entry to concerts and automatic backstage passes. Thanks to being an APO Kid, I was able to meet and have my backpack signed by the Eraserheads, and I also met the Backstreet Boys and Alanis Morissette when they guested on their noontime show.

Perk number two was special treatment in certain places such as salons and beauty parlors. The one we used to go along Katipunan would immediately play their APO CD as soon as we walked through the door, as a cheeky way of making sip-sip.

And yet, amid all this, I was not truly aware that my dad was a celebrity until late in high school, not even if I had seen him on stage being applauded by adoring fans countless times. Not even when all my classmates would sing “What’s this, kabayong buntis” every lunch time. Not even when my teachers would ask me for my dad’s autograph. I was such an oblivious young girl, more concerned with doodling and Disney cartoons. I didn’t really know when a new APO single would be out on the airwaves until other people asked me about it.

It never occurred to me that having a dad who was on TV was unusual because it had always been that way for as long as I could remember. I would watch him dress up in the mornings and leave. An hour later, he would be on TV. I was only two years old when I first saw them on TV in a San Miguel commercial chasing a girl in a white dress. I even remember the jingle: “She-boom, she-boom, lalalalala…” But growing up, I was always in school during his noontime show, so I only got to watch on Sundays.

Ironically, what seemed strange and alien to me were my classmates’ fathers, who would all come home from the office in button-down shirts and clutching briefcases. “Normal” to me was a father coming home in a sequined costume, clutching a briefcase full of stage makeup; one who made us listen to Paul Simon and Frank Zappa, and taught us poetry.

We had a recording studio, but it never occurred to me that it was my dad’s means of making a living. To me, it was a playground where I could bang on the drums and play with the synthesizer during long, summer afternoons. When Joey Ayala would record there, I would play with his gongs and ethnic instruments.

I didn’t consciously know any APO hits till I hit college, because to me they were like ever-present background music throughout my growing-up years, something whose existence I knew about but never thought about, like the atmosphere. Sure, I could sing American Junk at the drop of a hat. But I was surprised when I entered college and found that a whole lot of people knew the music of the APO.

I suppose I only truly ever felt like I was “Jim Paredes’ daughter” when I started appearing on TV myself. The comparison was inevitable, and so was harsh criticism, but I’m not the only TV personality to have ever dealt with nastiness. I suppose to many I was just another daughter of a celebrity who probably got into showbiz purely through her last name. But I maintain that I wouldn’t have lasted that long if I didn’t at least have any hosting ability whatsoever.

And, on the contrary, entering the TV biz was something I felt I did independently. It was by no means my father’s idea, and not once did any agent or client contact me through him. He never meddled with my dealings. I wasn’t trying to be “Jim Paredes’ daughter.” I just felt like TV was something I’d know how to do if given the chance. After all, I was always emceeing school concerts and programs, and I even had a high school teacher who once told me, “Bagay sa iyo maging veejay.” (You should be a veejay.)

But as I have found through the years, being the daughter of a famous person means living behind a very long shadow. Sometimes, people don’t see you as anything but an “APO Kid.” Every question people ask you is a dad-related question. Never mind if you just won the Nobel Prize or ended world hunger, they won’t care because your dad didn’t do it.

And of course, there is always comparison if you get into anything that is any way remotely connected to what your father is brilliant at. I think there is a reason why no APO offspring has really broken into the music scene, although there are talented singers and musicians among us. We’re too terrified. People will judge us for not living up to our fathers, or for living up to them too much. It’s a hard battle to win.

And now that I am older and have struggled with finding my own identity, I realize that I will always be my father’s daughter, no matter what. Despite the pains some of us APO Kids might have experienced in coming into our own, I suppose we are all the same in sharing a genuine admiration for these artists who just happen to be our fathers. The APO are not only singers, they are performers. They are not only a singing group, they are the best of friends. I can watch an APO concert and be just as entertained as other non-APO-kid audience members, and I do love their music. Like so many Filipinos, their songs have touched my heart. I am very much an APO fan.

I am resigned to the fact that if I choose to do anything that my dad has done before, be it music, showbiz or writing, my version will always be compared to his (and will most likely come out the “paler” version, because that’s what people always say). But that shouldn’t stop me from doing the things I love just because my father’s done it before. And so, I may be my own person, but I am honored to be my father’s daughter, too.
* * *

“SKIN: A Photo Exhibit by Jim Paredes in Black and White and Red” opened last Sept. 24 and will run till Oct. 2 at Renaissance Gallery, fourth floor, Megamall Building A. Do visit and sign my guestbook.

POST MORTEM: APO of the Philippines

We had a great time. Everything seemed to cooperate with what was to transpire. We had a crowd to die for, a line-up that worked, musicians that rocked and the vibes semed to make everything magical.

I write this while sleep-deprived, and tired but with a smile on my face. I still retain images of the Big Dome lighted with cellphones everywhere in the audience like points of happy light sending out warm affectionate signals to us on stage.

We were on for 3 hours and 8 minutes!! We thank our audience for the deep appreciation we felt all the way up the stage. It was just amazing. YOU make us feel like we’ve been doing something good all these years.

To everyone-family, friends, acquaintances who asked me for tickets, my apologies for not sending you any. Ticketnet owned all tickets last night and everything we got from them had to be paid for by us. To those who bought and paid, we hopefully gave you a show that was more than your money’s worth!

Peace love and gratitude to everyone, and God who constantly gives us what we need everytime. Till next show! Hopefully, less than 39 years from now.

Our life’s work

Sunday Life
Our life’s work
Sunday, September 21, 2008

It’s been a grueling month and an especially backbreaking two weeks leading to Sept. 20. Danny and Boboy and I worked very hard to put on the best show we possibly could for our 39th year anniversary at the Big Dome.

It is the Wednesday before September 20 as I write this so I cannot say with certainty how the show actually went since it has not yet transpired. I only hope it went well. But what I can tell you is that it was our best. It has to be. Because every show we do is the best we’ve ever done, as far as we are concerned. Anything that we could have done better is hindsight. As in everything we do in life, each time we do a show, we can only conclude that we really couldn’t have done it better.

The whole past month got me not just thinking but, more importantly, realizing that APO can actually lay claim to a life’s work. I remember one of my sisters telling me about a guy she dated who asked her what her life’s work was. At that time, she did not know what to answer since she didn’t feel she had achieved anything or had done anything significant for any length of time.

I know it can sound a bit pretentious to talk about our life’s work until you consider that we have actually been doing APO — including writing, singing and performing — for a very long time. All the songs we have written and sung and performed, all the places and venues we have visited, and all the patrons who have seen us or bought our albums, or liked what we do are witnesses to our accomplishment.

A distinguished, seasoned and accomplished architect can show off the buildings and houses he has designed as physical evidence of his life’s work. In our case, what we can show as performers for all these 39 years is far less tangible. No matter how good a show we mount, people eventually forget how great it was until we do it again. Our so-called “body of work” is hard to define since performance is fleeting. Whatever is real about what we do, though magical, disappears into thin air at the end of the show. In the end, we, through our representations — such as the songs we have made — live in the hearts and memories of our public where we share space with other songs written by other people.

A life’s work is what you have done to define yourself. It is the entire effort you have put in through the years, on a day-to-day basis. It is the lifelong effort of chipping off chunks and slivers out of a solid undefined block of potential, and carving an image and persona that you long ago decided was how you wanted to be represented in the world.

That is only one part of it. The other part is, with the same image and persona you have created, you can act on the world and fashion it accordingly. People are potential students in the eyes of a teacher. To a businessman, they are potential consumers. To a performer, people are his audience.

German Moreno starts his radio program with the classic line from an old Hollywood song that goes, “Everything that happens in life, happens in a show.” To a performer who does nothing but perform, the show is his life, and life is everything. The show therefore is everything.

Danny, Boboy and I subscribe to this, and will continue to do so. Even amid personal tragedies like the death of loved ones, relationship breakups, or whatever else life has dished out to us, we have showed up for our scheduled gigs. The show has gone on. And even in those times when we were not really up to it, we pretended that we were, until we brought back the true joy of performing.

The show is life. You default on one, you miss out on the other.

There is an intimacy we experience when we dedicate ourselves to something we love. Like a woman to a man who desires her, a career or a calling is something you show up for, fall in love with, and yes, even marry. A cousin of mine, cynically humorous as he was, warned us about this. He said that you should never fall in love with your job because you end up marrying it, and then you screw it!

But I believe that with a real life’s work, it is a perfect match where you and your career do the day-to-day work of putting it all together. Contrary to how my cousin put it, you make love to it at every opportunity, not just to tame it, get familiar with it and enjoy it, but to be conquered and enjoyed by it as well. And the more you do this, the better it gets.

But just like in any relationship, there is also the downside when, at times, you feel alienated in the world you have chosen, and without that spark to keep going at it. The road is long; it’s quite a distance through the desert and there aren’t any sure signs of an oasis on the horizon. But if you plod on, sure enough, little patches of green will begin to appear.

With APO, sometimes it is work. Rejections happen. But the journey isn’t over until you give up. Sometimes, it feels like all we do is bump our heads on a wall hoping that the wall breaks first.

Thirty-nine years is a long time to look back on. But it’s been a good span for me and my friends. We have put in a lot of effort, shed tears, and done physically exhausting work. In turn, it has helped us provide pretty well for our families, and supported our other dreams as well. More importantly, it has given us a sense of place in this thing called life.

How much longer will APO last? None of us really knows. Sometimes it seems like we are running on empty with only hubris keeping us going. At other times, we feel like a brand-new solar car that can keep on going forever.

Whichever of these we are, at this point, it doesn’t really matter. What is important is that we made a choice, showed up and did what it took all through these years, and continue to do so. It was a choice well made and a decision well-kept.
* * *
One of my passions is photography.

I am having an exhibit and it will be open to the public starting this Wednesday. Do drop by.

“Skin: A Photo Exhibit by Jim Paredes in Black and White and Red” runs from Sept. 24 to Oct. 2 at Renaissance Gallery, fourth floor, Megamall Building A.

Another one resurrected

As a final promo for the APO concert tomorrow, I am posting something unique. Here’s another gem I found. This is only one of three bonafide music videos APO ever made. The main actor here is Boboy’s son Anton who gamely played the lead. My daughter Erica, her classmates and our neighbor Gina Reyes, appear in some of the scenes. The video was directed by Louie Quirino, my nephew.

APO, Ang Dakilang LUMPO (Lumang Grupo)

I am reprinting a write up by Joey De leon, APO’s long time colleague, competitor and (though little known to everyone) a friend of long standing. Read his account of when we all met, in the style that only Joey can muster. Salamat Joey

Philippine Star

ME, STARZAN By Joey de Leon
Sunday, September 14, 2008

* * *

They could have been called the Jose Rizal Gun Club, or simply UZI Rizal. Or perhaps, Andres Bonifacio Shoe Factory, or simply Bonifashoes. But they chose to be known as the Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society.

Nice choice — because like their chosen hero, who we know as the Utak ng Katipunan — Jim, Boboy and Danny are also mauutak — to be able to compose, write and come up with those beautiful and catchy APO songs through the years. Galing talaga!

History has not been so detailed as to why the so-called Utak ng Katipunan was really called so. According to some Hip-hop historians, they have always thought and insisted that Mr. Mabini was branded as mautak because hindi lang siya mautak, magulang pa! Wais, ‘ika nga. Sa totoo lang daw, naniniwala sila na hindi siya talaga lumpo! Ginagawa lang daw niya ‘yon para hindi siya maglakad at mapagod! Parelaks-relaks lang siya sa kanyang duyan. Ngak!

And according to these people na nagmamarunong, they suspect that his story was even included as part of the original lyrics (daw) of a national anthem study, lalo na at kaya nabanggit ang salitang “duyan” — “Lumpong hinirang, duyan ka ng mautak — pag napasabak, siya’y nakatitiyak…” (nakatitiyak siyang hindi siya sasaktan ng mga kalaban dahil sa kanyang kalagayan). Ngek!

Meanwhile, another group of people addicted to history (hindi kaya mga historians na adik lang ito?), claim that the person in question is not just paralyzed, but also totally sightless. Nang tanungin namin kung bakit nila nasabi ‘yon, ito ang sagot nila, “Eh kasi, hindi ba siya ang tinatawag ng mga Amerikano na ‘So Blind Paralytic’?” Ngik! Sablay!

The APO are just like their superhero — walang kapagud-pagod — sa kanilang pagsikat at pagtagal. They enjoyed what they did, and that itself is success. Congratulations again, my friends. We are all very lucky (DBJ and TVJ) — we all have jobs where we are having fun while having funds! ‘Yan ang masarap na trabaho — effortless, pero airport-ful!

Seriously, at ngayon lang n’yo malalaman ito — kung hindi dahil sa APO, baka walang TVJ at malamang, walang Eat,Bulaga!

Ganito kasi ‘yon — tandang-tanda ko pa — (this is only from this writer’s recollection) — a little less than two years before the declaration of Martial Law, the Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society was offered to do a TV show on Channel 13. This was after they had a successful show at the Meralco Theatre. Rollie Grande was the director and Bong Serra was the executive producer.

According to Bong, after watching two pilot episodes, the management and the production staff had something different in mind — they thought of not just an all-musical format for their new show but something else — a musical-comedy show made up entirely of new talents. So on the first taping (again), it was like a potluck party — the director brought in his bowling pal, Tito Sotto, who came with his two brothers, Marvic and Valmar (Vic and Val). Tito was then doing commercials and had a stint with his brother Val as members of the Tilt Down Men, the Dave Clark Five of the Philippines. Vic looked so young and appeared like someone who couldn’t even hurt a fly — ang tahimik at ang kapal ng salamin. He was studying at La Salle at the time. Like I always say, I am one of the few who witnessed the transformation of Bossing Ungassis from good to evil! Ngok!

On the other hand, the executive producer came with his disc jockey friends from ABS-CBN — the late Ricky Manalo Jr., who later became and played “Tom” in the TV Series of the comic strip, Baltic and Company, and the “never late for tapings,” Joey de Leon, who had a radio record of working on board ALL the seven radio stations of ABS-CBN in Bohol Avenue! (DZYK-FM, DWOW, DZMM, DZAQ-Radyo Patrol, DZQL, DZXL and DZYL). I was the “Spare For All Seasons/Stations.” During that time, that sort of animal was known as a “utility announcer.” Doon sa mga tanga na baka akalaing ang “utility” ay ang inuutusan na kumuha ng kape ng mga announcers, nagkakamali po kayo. Ang ibig sabihin po niyan ay pwede kayong ilagay kahit saan at kahit ano mang format or programming ng istasyon. In short, and in truth, lagi kasi akong naka istambay sa ABS lalo na sa saklaan kaya madalas akong matawag! Nguk!

The show was called, Okay Lang. We were 19 in the cast, which included: George and Raffy (Javier and Paredes), Monette and Noel, the Casado brothers, Christy Mayuga and Cathy Earnshaw among many others. Tough Hits, which undeniably gave a kick to TVJ’s career as a trio, was born on that show. Doon kami nag-masters ng Knock Knock and Use In A Sentence Jokes. At doon din ako nahasa magsulat — ng mga kalokohan!

Again, to Boboy, Jim and Danny, salamat at nasama kami sa show ninyo. It was our first big break on television. Natutuwa ako ngayon dahil lahat tayong anim ay Okay Lang pa rin.

This coming Saturday, Sept. 20, the APO will hold their very first concert at the Araneta Coliseum after being together for 39 years! Mabuhay ang APO of the Philippines!

Awit ng Barkada

I am reprinting an article out today by Philippine Star entertainment writer/ editor Ricky Lo. It has long been a dream of the APO to be interviewed by him. Thanks Ricky.

Awit ng Barkada
Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pumapatak na naman ang ulan sa bubong ng bahay…

Funny but on the afternoon Conversations talked to the APO (Jim Paredes, Boboy Garovillo and Danny Javier), it was raining cats and dogs, punctuated by thunder and lightning, a “bed” weather perfect for, as the APO song goes, doing di-inaasahang bagay, such as mag-laklak ng beer magdamagan.

Instead of drowning in beer, it was nice to drift into sweet slumber at matulog na lang ng mahimbing.

But how can you sleep while tripping with the APO down the well-trodden Memory Lane, a week before the Durable Trio’s pre-40th-anniversary concert, titled APO of the PHILIPPINES, at the Big Dome (on Saturday, Sept. 20)?

On my music-player, The Best of the APO Hiking Society CD kept on playing the well-loved APO songs that are easy to remember, easy to memorize, easy to love and easy to sing along with because they sing of the ordinary things in life such as falling in and out of love (Pagibig), friends crying on each others’ shoulders in times of crisis (Kaibigan), the frustration of loving a girl who loves somebody else (Mahirap Magmahal ng Syota ng Iba), the magical beauty of a full moon (Kabilugan ng Buwan), the emptiness of a love-weary heart (Tuyo Na’ng Damdamin), the healing power of a smile (Show Me a Smile), the bitter-sweet effects of making up after a lovers’ quarrel (Di Na Natuto) and, yes, the thrill of guzzling bottles and bottles of beer on a rainy afternoon.
In short, mga awit ng barkada.

That’s what we will be hearing at the Big Dome — mga awit ng barkada.

The trio sounds exactly the way they did when they got together musically while studying at Ateneo, not missing a beat these past 39 years. Check out their latest album, Danny, Boboy at Jim, which consists of songs they sing only during concerts and never recorded, and you will know what I mean. The APO themselves are releasing the CD as an “indie” production — “‘Yan ang uso ngayon, di ba? Indie,” said Boboy.

Jim, 57, is married to Lydia Mabanta with whom he has three children (Erica, Ala and Mio); the couple has one grandchild. Boboy, 57, is married to Bong Agcaoili with whom he has two sons, Fonz and Anton. Danny, 61, is “twice married, twice annulled” (as he put it), with four children from his second failed marriage — Justine, Juliene, Jobim and Jamael.

Would the APO have lasted this long if you were not good friends?

Jim: I don’t think we would because there are so many areas to fight over…like money, fame, schedule, everything! You have to sacrifice for a bigger goal and you have to like the persons you are sacrificing with.

Boboy: The group has survived because we are barkadas, because we are good friends. We were not one of those groups which, you know, “Let’s get together for music.” Hindi ganoon, eh. We have been really good friends, we hang out together up to now, and the music just came along. We came from the same school, so have like minds, like philosophies in life. Medyo madali kaming magka-intindihan.

Danny: It’s the friendship that keeps us together. Not the money nor anything. Take away everything else and we would still be friends.

In all the years that you’ve been performing, what was the biggest test that you had to hurdle?

Jim: What we really wanted to do with APO. We were pulling each other into each other’s directions. I wanted it to be like this and like that; I was complaining about standards because I felt na parang bumababa ang aming standard. I was being too critical, at ganoon din sina Boboy at Danny. I guess ‘yon ang pinaka-matindi naming pagsubok. We got to a point when, you know, we said, “Sige, tapusin na natin ito!”

Boboy: Money was never a problem, huh. There was a time in the ’70s when disco music came in and our career hit a real low. We put up our own record company with the help of somebody. We were thinking talaga na, you know, “This is it!” We should just work, maging executives na lang sa isang recording company, and just stop singing. We were producing records for the likes of Hajji Alejandro. Come to think of it, career-wise that was not a real low because we were still doing something for the industry. But as performers, ‘yon ‘yung akala namin it would end na.

Danny: In any relationship, there’s one trait of the others that becomes unbearable, whether it’s kakulitan or whatever. Kapag natawid mo ‘yon, wala ka nang ibang kailangan tawirin pa. Sabi nila, dapat may communication. So I said, “Para walang communication gap…tanggap.” That’s the solution to the communication gap. Tanggap.

Of the dozens and dozens of songs that you have recorded and composed for other singers (the most popular being Di Na Natuto for Gary Valenciano), which is the most memorable to you?

Jim: My favorite changes all the time. But for me, it has to be Batang-Bata Ka Pa because I wrote that when my eldest child was born. It’s such a direct composition na hindi ko inisip; the lyrics and the melody just came out naturally, spontaneously. I’m happy that the song has a universal appeal, not only with parents but also their children can relate to it.

Boboy: It’s hard to choose just one. Outside of APO, I would say Di Na Natuto which we wrote for Gary Valenciano. It was a hit. Among us, I guess it would be Awit ng Barkada which is, up to this day, being played during reunions. It has a very reassuring effect, di ba?

Danny: It’s the song that Gina (Valenciano-Martinez) asked me to write for Gary — Di Na Natuto. It was almost like a commissioned work. It was a hit, played and played on the radio for almost two years; palipat-lipat ka ng istasyon and that was the song being played. At the time, there was only one other song that was a hit, I’ll Never Say Goodbye by Willy Cruz (sung by Nonoy Zuñiga). In all my 61 years, there has never been a song na kasing-hit ng Di Na Natuto.
Aside from love of music, what do you have in common?

Jim: We really just enjoy each other’s company. We enjoy the fact that we did something really special, I think. When we started, there was really no OPM (Original Pilipino Music); it was then known as Manila Sound. When we did something like this, it was some kind of an act of rebellion — you know, when you’re young, you want to resist conformity. Pagkatapos, it bore fruit. We really felt that we did something more important than just build a career. By the way, it was Danny who thought of the term “OPM.” We put it in our records and it caught on with everybody.

Boboy: Hmmmm…Kung tutuusin, not much really. Kami ni Danny, we are into golf. Jim is into scuba-diving and biking. I also play tennis and am into a lot of other sports. Jim is a bookworm.

Danny: We are a community of learners. Ang sabi ko nga sa mga ka-kaklase ko, “The nicest thing that happened to me after college is that I began to enjoy learning.” I never studied as much until after college. There’s so much to learn from life. Study, if not imposed by other people, is one of the most enjoyable experiences in life.

Has the “ego factor” ever reared its ugly head among you?

Jim: At the start, we were always competing with each other…in all aspects, pati sa girls. But after a while, you just realized that, you know, nobody would say, “Ang ganda n’ung song na kinanta ni Boboy, or ni Jim, or ni Danny.” They would just say, “Ang ganda n’ung song ng APO.” Nagkaroon kami ng collective identity. We found our right place as a team.

Boboy: Ang “ego factor” sa amin was always internal, just among the three of us, and never about people outside of the group. Ang “ego” sa amin was…what do I want to do? You know, no contract binds us. We can just stand up and say, “Tomorrow, I’m done!” Like Jim could just say, “I’m moving to Australia!” As simple as that.

Danny: It did. We would not be human if the “ego factor” doesn’t come in the way. But like I said, we are learners. We discovered that the three of us when put together are bigger than our sum. Yes, we can stand as individuals but iba ‘yung magkasama kaming tatlo.

How do you maintain and sustain the distinct APO Sound?

Jim: The APO Sound is actually…well, we maintain it by singing and singing and singing all the time. When singers get older, binabaan nila ‘yung key ng song. We are still singing in the same key as when we recorded our songs. So, it’s really practice, practice, practice.

Boboy: You know, that’s a secret na hindi naman secret. I guess we just have a natural knack for harmonizing with each other. I like to think that songwriting needs a certain intelligence and talent, eh. You know, a lot of songs now that you hear make you wonder, “Saan nanggaling ‘yon?”

Danny: Well, kaya siguro na-maintain namin dahil wala sa amin nagpa-sex-change, kaya wala sa amin nagbago ang voice. Hehehehe!

What’s the best thing about making music with your good friends?

Jim: Danny is very intuitive, so it’s quite easy to work with him. Boboy is very spontaneous and that, to me, is a great factor in every show. Kumbaga sa basketball team, si Boboy nakaka-three-point shot madalas.

Danny: The best thing about working with Jim and Boboy is that you have two voices that you can trust. They will not give an opinion that will detract from the beauty of your creation; they can only enhance it. And, of course, they have respect for your final decision as a writer.

(Note: For tickets to the APO concert, call Ticketnet at 911-5555 or Thirdline at 426-0103. More on the APO in Joey de Leon’s column Me, Starzan, Page E-1.)

Surviving the net

Sunday Life
Surviving the Net
Sunday, September 14, 2008

Never before in the history of man has there been so much information available. The Internet, as we all know is host to an ever-growing body of data that can be accessed by anyone. It is said that the growth of websites, blogs and the like are actually exponential. With the advent of the web now within reach even with one’s cellphone, iPod or PDA, the temptation to browse, surf or, more accurately, to swim and drown in the ocean of information, most of it useless or at least, non-vital, is both irresistible and inevitable.

I confess that I spend an inordinate amount of time on the web. I often find myself using the Internet for hours on end. With browsers that carry features like Stumble Upon which are programmed to take you to “random” pages that you will most likely enjoy, the Internet has glued me to my chair and computer screen for long periods, sorting through pages upon pages that grab my interest.

Sometimes I wonder whether what is transpiring here is still man’s indulgence of an insatiable quest for knowledge, or an increasingly unquenchable thirst for titillation and amusement.

When I was in high school, before the advent of personal computers and the worldwide web, I remember a teacher assigning us to read an essay that dissected the difference between what it called “books of wisdom” against what it pejoratively called “books of the hour.” It was a dig at people who spent too much time reading trivial things like comic books, magazines and other types of pop, contemporary reading instead of the literary classics. I can imagine how disturbed the writer must have been at the proliferation of what was to him, mindless, shallow reading material that had exploded onto the scene during the golden age of printing in the early 20th century. Such works, undoubtedly brought about by the democratization of access to printing by just about anyone, must have irked the writer to comment and make the distinction between proven works of great value and anything newly printed and passed on as “literature.”

He lived in a much slower world, for sure. He simply had no inkling whatsoever that things would get progressively worse in so short a time.

But while one may find it curious or even laugh at the mindset that would feel the need to point out the distinction between “books of knowledge” and “books of the hour,” it is actually worth pondering. The point really is how and with what we feed our minds.

While an active, inquisitive mind is better than a dull and slow one, there is something to worry about when the mind is constantly racing, agitated, titillated, excited — as what seems to be happening to a lot of people today. The world is exploding with so much information that it drives many brilliant minds to explode as well. We have become treasure troves of information but not necessarily of knowledge and wisdom.

We have an armada of statistics, data and information at the snap of our fingers but not the time nor even the inclination to process them and turn them into true and useful insights. We may know the breaking news, sports scores, surveys, the latest downturns of the markets, the weather, etc.; but do not have the time nor the ability to analyze and convert all of this into knowledge that can help us make better sense of our world and of ourselves. Why? Because, well, there is simply more new information coming all the time that needs to be digested. And we hardly digest it. Who has the time? In fact, we may all be suffering from info-indigestion.

The irony is that even as the Internet has opened up most of the world’s data banks for everyone’s use, this has not necessarily created a better-informed and awakened citizenry who can really think things through with wisdom and discernment. Instead, we are a society enamored with and addicted to trivia. You would think that with the classics like the complete works of Shakespeare, Nietzsche or Rumi available for free on the Net, there would be a beeline heading for them. Instead, the kids who are supposed to read these works head for their summaries. And the Internet hits are most probably directed towards the latest videos on YouTube, or gossip about the latest star to fall in Hollywood.

This is not surprising since the ways of the world and the ways of the truly awakened have historically been at odds. I believe they are more so now. Consider that the learning and acquisition of wisdom usually happens at a much slower pace — it can take months, years, or even lifetimes to achieve — while accessing trivia on the Internet is only a few instantaneous clicks away.

Media, including the Internet, can be a noisy place where millions of pages or portals or URLs are shouting for our time and attention, seducing us to be passive consumers of other people’s thoughts, feelings and products. And our consumption of media and the Net makes us mindless consumers of data mostly for the sake of amusement. In fact, we may even be already addicted to the onslaught of electronic data we get every day. Many of us can’t let a day or two pass without surfing the Net. It’s as if the web has become our own mind and exploring it has taken the place of exploring the self. The Zen question — “Are you in control of your mind, or is your mind controlling you?’ — is more relevant than ever.

On the other hand, the cultivation of a mind that knows itself, or an awakened mind, demands that our thinking become uncluttered, spacious, peaceful and unperturbed by the goings-on in the world. The awakened mind is not really an informed mind but an open one. It is not constantly thinking but is, in fact, many times devoid of opinion. It is open to understanding the world as it is, and does not force anything to fit into a preconceived concept. I call the awakened mind a “Teflon” mind because nothing sticks to it permanently. It always can be wiped clean and therefore has a fresh view of life.

So how can an awakened mind reconcile living in today’s world where what we know is constantly updated and upgraded even before we have even come to grips with it? I think the reflective mind may be in a better position to use all this information without being an addicted consumer. Why? Because it does not feel the need to cling to the opinions and knowledge it constantly receives. It is always open to the new, the useful and the truthful.

The awakened mind may be the best mindset to have in this day and age. If it is truly awakened, it can distance itself and even drop out of all the noise when it feels that its spaciousness and equanimity are being assaulted. It can even turn off the computer if it wishes… It is probably the best way to control the Internet, in fact. Otherwise, it can end up controlling you.

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On Sept. 24, my exhibit entitled ‘SKIN: a photo exhibit by Jim Paredes in black and white and red’ will open to the public at the Renaissance Gallery at the Megamall. It will run till Oct. 2, 2008. It is an exhibit of artful nudes taken through the years. Please do come and appreciate. This exhibit is sponsored by Panasonic Philippines. For some of the pics, i used the Lumix DMC-L1, a great camera.

What are your all-time favorite APO songs?

I am reprinting an article by fellow Philippine Star Columnist Mons Romulo-Tantoco which came out today. Thanks Mons!

Sunday Life
What are your all-time favorite APO songs?
WORDS WORTH By Mons Romulo-Tantoco
Sunday, September 14, 2008

Apo Hiking Society is one of the leading music icons in the country and in the history of Original Pilipino Music (OPM). Jim Paredes, Danny Javier, and Boboy Garrovillo have been friends for 39 years. They have recorded 26 chart-topping albums throughout their career and these timeless songs have become part of our lives.

On September 20 at 8 p.m. at the Araneta Coliseum, we will have the chance to once again hear them sing our favorite songs. The concert, “APO of the Philippines,” also celebrates the trio’s 40th year on the music scene.

GB SAMPEDRO, stage and TV director: Paano — “Subukan mong magmahal o giliw ko…kakaibang ligayang matatamo…” It’s hard to fall in love and fall out of love; it’s even harder to fall in love again, but it’s worth the risk. That’s how I interpret my favorite beautiful APO song.

AMY PEREZ, host and actress: When I Met You. It’s my favorite talaga, even before I worked with them on our show Sa Linggo Napo Sila. After all these years, grabe, Danny sings it better pa. Parang hindi tumanda!

MORRIS TUASON, businessman: Awit ng Barkada, which applies to our culture. Classic tune and lyrics that will never fade. The song also brings cheer to a typical barkada setup. Very much Filipino.

SANDRA CHAVEZ, talent manager: When I Met You. It’s a simple, gentle song you can take with you. It is just there when you need it.

Senator CHIZ ESCU-DERO: Batang-Bata Ka Pa. Being young should never be considered a handicap because it’s not. The song talks about the youth’s promise — that of change and that they are capable of doing it now. Not when he graduates, not when he gets rich, not when he’s in power — but now. It’s a song that says the youth can stand an army of traditional norms, events, people and beliefs if and when they will themselves to. The ball is in their hands to make a change now.

VERNI VARGA, singer: When I Met You, a song all about love — first to God and to someone special. For me, it’s an inspirational song, which is the reason I like it.

FRANCIS PAPICA, US lawyer: Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo. It reminds me of how strong we are as a people and the great things the future has to offer if only we put the country before our selfish personal interests. I’ve never met a race of people who has the potential to accomplish- much — if only we put our minds and hearts together.

SARI PAZ VILLAR-TAN, marketing manager, 105.1, Crossover: Pumapatak Na Naman Ang Ulan. The magic of APO is there because their songs have always been about real life. Pumapatak for me is the definitive APO song. It takes me back to a time and place when life was less complicated, and I realize that the worries I had then were actually nothing to worry about. I hear that song, and it never fails to make my heart smile.

Marikina Mayor MARIDES C. FERNANDO: Pumapatak Na Naman Ang Ulan reminds me of when I was still in my school days. There was fresh air, we seldom encountered problems and during rainy season masarap matulog lang kasi when classes were cancelled.

22 years ago

Twenty two years ago in 1986, we did our first commercial for San Miguel Beer. I thought I’d share it with you. How time flies!

At that time, we thought youth was forever. Now we know that it probably still can be for a few years more if we wish except for the physical aspect of it. We were young then, on the make and as Bily Joel liked to describe young US soldiers in Vietnam then, ‘sharp as knives’.

Thirty nine!

Sunday Life

Philippine Star
Sunday, September 7, 2008

Please bear with this shameless plug. On September 20, the APO Hiking Society will be onstage at the Araneta Coliseum to celebrate 39 years of friendship and music and we intend to perform our hearts out. Through all these years, Danny, Boboy and I have done a lot together, but performing as headliners at the Big Dome has not been one of them. Each time we inquired on its availability in the past, it was always booked. But this year, it will be ours to enjoy and celebrate in.

The three of us, I humbly say, have done some remarkable things together. We have released 26 albums, done many TV shows, a few movies, performed all over the Philippines and many parts of the world. Our friendship is also rock solid and is something we relish as much as we do performing.

Today, I would like to enumerate 39 facts and stories you may find interesting about Danny, Boboy and me, and share a few insights I have learned from these two friends. These are culled from our experiences as friends, partners (in crime and in good things), co-workers, and as an entity known as the APO Hiking Society. If it seems like I am bragging at times, I am. You see, it took us all these years to learn them.

1. Boboy was born in Dipolog, Danny in Leyte and I in Manila, representing the three main Islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

2. Striking a friendship is easy but keeping it is something one must work on. With us, it happened quite naturally and effortlessly, but we found out later that we had to learn patience and understanding to get over the differences that would crop up time and again.

3. Even while work may be needed to sustain them, friendships are still far easier to maintain than marriages or love affairs. APO’s friendship is quite a low-maintenance one. We may not be together for sometime but have no problem picking up where we left off.

4. It is not only possible but necessary to develop a collective ego to succeed as a group. In APO, it is the only type of ego allowed. All other types must be suppressed if we are to retain our solid synergistic entity.

5. Truly great performances are the result of synergy. Synergy is when the whole is much more than the sum of its parts. It is when 1+1+1 can equal not just three but anywhere from six to 1,000 to infinity!

Synergy is like an accident. It just happens, seemingly without planning. The “accident” of synergy happens more often when as a group you are always practicing, rehearsing and are attuned and in tune with each other. Through the years, APO has become quite “accident-prone” to synergy so that we have learned to almost expect it.

6. A lot of people see APO as a “political” group. The truth is, we have only done about five songs that have any political content among hundreds that are primarily love songs. We see ourselves as musical artists who do speak out on political matters occasionally.

7. Between TV, movies and concerts, we like doing concerts the most. Why? Because we have 100-percent control over how we want to entertain an audience. We write our own stuff. It doesn’t work out quite as well when other people write for us. We end up rewriting it to make it our own. When you work on TV, most everything you do is dictated by scriptwriters. Even the songs are chosen for you. It’s not as creatively challenging as when you are totally answerable for everything.

8. In our entire recording career, Danny and I have only collaborated as songwriters on two songs. With Blue Jeans, he wrote the opening slow part, while I did the fast part. We did not consult one another at all. We listened to what we individually had written the night before in the studio and just connected the two melodies together. The other song is Over and Done, a song written in 1971. Danny had just broken off with my sister, and I with my girlfriend. We wrote this over a bottle of beer. One bottle was enough.

9. Even though we have been doing APO for 39 years, the three of us look forward to every performance and still get excited. There is a Zen saying that “there is no such thing as repetition.” This is one of our mantras. An APO show, even if we do the same songs or even the same spiels, is a different experience for us each time. We are totally present with each other and with our audience, which means we are not just going through the motions but coming from a present awareness. That’s why it always feels new to us.

10. We truly appreciate each other’s gifts and contributions and rely on each other.

11. The strategy we discovered early on, that of “surprise and delight,” which we use when drawing up a repertoire or planning a show, has been a great one for us.

12. We do what we do to please a paying audience. But that is only secondary to the fact that APO continues to exist because we’re having fun being ourselves.

13. The three of us have not quarreled, and will not ever quarrel, about money.

14. Coming from the ‘70s, we never imagined that a solid career could be built on being original and writing and singing OPM.

15. What we may have perceived as weaknesses in each other earlier in our career have by now become acceptable traits and in a sense, even comfortably familiar. We have used a lot of them to advantage, such as Boboy’s perceived lack of height, Danny’s promdi past, my “great dancing prowess,” to name a few that have gotten us a few laughs. I would not exchange my friends for anyone else in the business who may be more talented, good-looking, perfect, etc. We have formed a working relationship that not only suits us but, in some ways, our audience as well.

16. At a certain point in our career, we discovered and fine-tuned our instinct to deliver high-impact shows even on a so-called “bad” night.

17. There are talented people in the business who choose to not go beyond their comfort zone and there are the less talented who work really hard and actually fly higher than even the outrageously talented. We in APO choose to be in this category of the hard-working “less talented.” The best performers are not necessarily the most gifted. They are there because they are gutsy enough to show up and share what little they’ve got. And that is a big deal. Sometimes. It is 90 percent of the success formula.

18. Celebrity is power and must be used to great effect for worthy goals. We discovered this early and have lent our names to some worthy causes.

19. When the tribute albums “Kami Na Po Muna” by the young bands came out, we were happy that the young kids had discovered our songs. It was an even bigger thrill since, as it turned out, the band versions also coaxed the kids to seek out the original APO versions as well. Our audience complexion is changing again. These days, we have young kids watching our concerts with their parents.

20. Danny and Boboy really love golf — enough to wake up early almost every day even after a long show the night before to sink a few holes.

21.  Danny is a man of many talents, one of which includes Bonsai cultivation.

22. Boboy is an excellent athlete of sports such as golf and tennis and has won many tournaments.

23. I wear red underwear every time we are on stage. It’s a good luck charm for me.

24. The three of us spent about seven hours in a Honolulu detention center in the ‘80s because we supposedly had the “wrong” visa. It’s a long story, but we were cleared and have not had the same problem since.

25. Right after EDSA , when Danny was asked what his occupation was by a Hong Kong immigration officer, he answered that he was a “hero” and opened the PAL in-flight magazine to show his picture among a collection of photos entitled “Heroes of the Revolution.” The immigration officer broke into a big smile.

25. Among the three of us, we have had four marriages. Boboy and I have one each!

26. Among the three of us, we have nine children. Boboy has two, I have three.

27. Among the three of us, there have been two annulled marriages. And it’s neither Boboy’s nor mine.

28. The very first time we performed at the Araneta Coliseum was traumatic for us. We were the front act for the Commodores, and we went through two nights of booing from the audience who had no patience with us because they so wanted the main stars to perform already. Those were moments when we seriously assessed our decision to be in showbiz!

29. Boboy loves Sudoku.

30. Because of his height, Boboy used to be a model for trophies! (No, that’s not true!)

31. A few months ago, we sang (at the request of an estranged husband) for a woman in her office. It was a wanton act of love commissioned by the husband on Valentine’s Day. With a boombox in hand, we approached her cubicle, gave her flowers and broke into Panalangin. The whole office went crazy! It was the husband’s way of breaking the ice after being estranged from her and before asking her out for just a wee moment at the Starbucks in the building next door.

They have been seeing each other more frequently over dinners now, so we heard.

32. I am the only grandfather among the APO so far.

33. The best songs of APO were written in no time at all. I have seen Danny write songs in minutes, and I have done the same. When we put on our thinking caps, it does not happen as serendipitously. Creativity is an intuitive act and works best without intellectualizing. I have come to the conclusion that we do our best in most endeavors when we are awake to the moment and simply tap into the universe’s gifts and perform effortlessly.

34. When we perform even for a largely foreign crowd, we represent ourselves best when we sing our own Filipino songs. It’s scary but it works. During one World Expo in the ‘80s before a crowd of 20,000 foreigners in Brisbane, Australia, we did hour-long concerts for three straight nights singing our Tagalog songs to a crowd that simply loved it. We must have sounded exotic to them. I believe we are best appreciated when we show the world who we are, not how well we can fit in by imitating them.

35. We performed in Saudi Arabia in 1987 before a segregated crowd. Boboy was singing to the side of the aisle where the women were, I sang to the men, and Danny sang to the fence that separated the sexes!

36. Our first concert tour was in 1975. We were fresh out of college and we visited 57 cities in three months. We were a filler act to big names then like Eddie Mercado, Susan Salcedo, Merci Molina, Toto, etc. Since we were the most junior in stature and the most able-bodied, we were tasked with setting up the sound equipment before a show and putting it all back in the van after. We also drove the vehicles on many legs of the tour. For all this, we were paid the huge sum of US$2,000 each (at seven pesos to a dollar then). The tour made us fall hopelessly in love with performing and was a great learning experience for three young men.

37. Yes, we do quarrel over some things, but have not done so in years. We used to quarrel about tardiness, perceived shabbiness in performances, repertoire, etc. We’ve learned to accept each other and have discovered that each of us has become sensitive to each other’s personalities and quirks.

38. We are a highly democratic group, sometimes to a fault. We allow each one to grow in the direction that he wishes. I live in Sydney. Danny has his businesses. Boboy does acting. We believe that as each of us grows, we have more to contribute to APO in terms of the knowledge and wealth of experience we can share.

39. On September 20 at the Araneta Coliseum, you will see the culmination of our life’s work of 39 years and the extraordinary friendship among three diverse people. We have had an amazing journey professionally and personally, and we are proud to share it with you.

See you at the Big Dome on September 20.

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You can get your tickets at at all SM stores (phone no. 911-5555), You can also call 426-5301 or 426-0103 for more details or visit