Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Music Lesson #11

I wrote the song "Ambing" ten years ago in the boarding house of a couple of friends within the confines of UP Diliman where I was studying Economics. The place was a preferred drinking place since you can pretty much do anything in it and it was cheaper to buy beer from a store than to buy drinks at Gulod or Sarah's. Anyway, the song was inspired by their hardluck tales about a friend of theirs called ________ who had been treated shabbily in her relationships with men (boys, actually, since we were still in our teens).

At that time I was in a performance poetry group called Freakshow. Freakshow performed at art galleries, shopping malls, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (as Gatula Performance Poetry), etc. My first performance involved me in a hospital gown in the middle of Glorietta shopping mall with a bedpan smeared with peanut butter that looks a lot like human feces. In a booming voice reminiscent of great poets such as Dylan Thomas, I recited a poem I'd written while appearing to eat the feces from the bottom of the bedpan. Needless to say it freaked out a lot of people at the mall and sent the genteel poet-types in the audience in a rage. One poet from our group once gave a reading of his poem at Balay Kalinaw while pretending to beat up a friend (who had been afflicted with polio) with his own cane-thingamajig. You will be pleased to know that three Freakshow members are now practicing lawyers, at least two have gone on to teach, one is a physician, and one is the editor in chief of a prestigious magazine.


As the performance poetry thing progressed, I figured I'd move on to being a performance poet-folk singer super-art-hybrid. So I brought my nylon guitar to performances and started singing my songs. The one that got most of a rise from the audience was always Ambing. I made a track of the song with the filmmaker Khavn Dela Cruz but we couldn't have it played on the radio for reasons that will become clear to the reader. Nonetheless, we put it in a CD called Easy EP from where it got ripped and passed along to people and morphed from one format to another until it finally ended up on the internet where it took on a life of its own.

Now the song's quite famous. A friend of mine called me in the middle of the night once to tell me that people have been downloading at Greenhills that same recording I did with Khavn to their cellphones and IPods. And there are several Ambing fan videos on Youtube, one of which, with two guys lipsynching the song, has almost 20,000 views. I've heard people on the street singing the song and it makes me real proud to know that I brought that little ditty out into the world. They don't know who Easy is (some think it's the name of a band I guess) but that's cool.

To demonstrate how famous the song is I have copied and pasted these lyrics from one of the few lyrics/tablature sites featuring Ambing.


Verse 1
Naaalala ko pa nung tayo pang dalwa,
sine lang ay ok ka na.
Pero ngayong kolehiyala ka na,
mas trip mong magtoma.
Ewan ko kung pano ka na barkada,
sa mga walang kwenta.

Sa payo ko ay makinig ka, kilala ko sila,
Wag kang, sasama, kakantutin ka lang nila.
Wag kang, maniwala, kakantutin ka lang nila.

Verse 2:
Wag mong isiping di mapapansin,
ang iksi ng iyong palda,
ang kyut kyut mo, pero ang dami-daming
make-up sa iyong mukha.
'Sang kahang yosi, 'sang bote ng beer,
maya-maya ay senglot ka na,

Sa payo ko ay makinig ka, kilala ko sila,
Wag kang sasama, kakantutin ka lang nila.
Wag kang maniwala, kakantutin ka lang nila.

Ngayon tatawag ka, ginago ka nila,
Wag kang mag-alala, reresbakan ko sila.

Aww, yeah!

Wag kang sasama kakantutin ka lang nila.
Wag kang maniwala kakastahin ka lang nila.
Wag kang paumaga kakantutin lang nila.
Wag mong paubaya kakangkangin ka lang nila.
Kakantutin ka lang nila...

If that song (and not my poetry, performance art, or my band Los Chupacabras) will be the one thing I'm remembered for... well, I hope I'm remembered for other stuff also.

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