Fans of the legendary Filipino rock icon must have known almost all his primary facts; that at age 11, he formed his first rock band which he called The Blue Jazzers, later then called The Villains—then, The Surfers. And that he earned the title “Mick Jagger of the Philippines” during their rocketing fame with The Downbeats who in 1966 opened the concert of The Beatles with Eddie Reyes …
But did you know that Pinoy rock or Tunog Kalye creeped into OPM genre due to Juan Dela Cruz’s Himig Natin track which became the anthem of Manila’s post-hippie culture and underground radio network, particularly the DZRJ-AM radio show? It was actually Bobby Gonzales who was first to become famous in the music industry in 1960 with his major hit Hahabul Habol but in 1970 along with Freddie Aguilar and Apo Hiking Society, Juan Dela Cruz dominated OPM. So if ever you wondered what brought “Pinoy Rock” to Filipino music industry, Juan Dela Cruz did it alongside with emerging rock bands and balladeers.
“Ang himig natin ang inyong awitin
Upang tayo’y magsama-sama
Sa langit ng pag-asa”
Although today isn’t a good day to do a throwback, allow me to bring back the Pinoy Rock era, through listening to timeless songs and performance of the Father of Filipino Rock.
Like a Rolling Stone cover by The Downbeats– Originally song by Bob Dylan. This was recorded a few years before they formed the Juan dela Cruz band. It is said that the Downbeats original member’s in this record was Tony Jalandoni in guitar, Charlie Meelieb also in guitar and Tonet Fabie in bass while Pepe Smith were in vocals and drums.
Ihip ng Hangin by Pepe Smith from the album, “Idiosyncracies”. The song is simple but full of words with emotions. You could feel it through listening to the song in silence when it’s just you, away from any noise on the background. And his dedication and passion to music was typically expressed. This was originally composed by Pepe Smith himself.
(Acoustic version by Pepe Smith live from his house in Baguio City-source: YouTube)
“Ibibigay ko sayo ohhh
Kaligayahan ng buong mundo oh oh oh oh
Masdan mo ang bahaghari
Tulay na papuntang langit”
Beep beep beep by Juan Dela Cruz band– A song that would surely create hype at an instant due to its startling interlude and the perfect song for jeepneys as the entire song implies. Beep beep beep was included in the band’s masterpiece album where it unleashed the hype to their listeners. It has became one of the anthem for Pinoy streets.
“Beep beep beep beep
Sabi ng tsuper ng jeep
Beep beep beep beep
Tabi kayo’t baka kayo’y maipit”
Among all the OPM bands today, it was Pepe Smith and his former bands who were first to marked a phenomenal legacy and has contributed a huge impact to the Filipino music industry. We could all agree to that, aren’t we?
Am I the only one who can’t help to sing along whenever their song “Titser’s Enemy No.1” plays? I bet no.
In his article, Inquirer writer, Joseph Atilano encouraged PDuterte to consider including the category “National Artist for Pinoy Rock” in the National Artist Awards. It also came to my mind. At first, I have second thoughts if there’s really none but after researching, I’m surprised that it wasn’t really included on the list.
I wonder when will it happen. Are they really that dedicated in granting an award after an artist passed-away like what happened to Fernando Poe Jr.? Should Pepe Smith die first before he could be recognized as a National Artist Awardee?
It’s not even worth it all. Why? Sentido Kumon. He died already so what is it for, when it’s only the family he left would only appreciate it. At least this time, let us prove that it is not only Ramon Santos (National Artist Awardee for music) and the other still-breathing awardees will be the only living National Artist recipient as the years passed.
So, I’m also calling the attention of PDuterte to grant this plea. I’m confident you know Pepe Smith deserves the title. If this article reached you, please think about it.
I’ll definitely nominate for Pepe Smith, the Filipino rock icon!
At least before it’s too late.