By N. Mark Castro


Most bands who reunite do not produce anything that remotely matches their original time together.

The list is long.

The thing is, to some, a band reunion is an unfortunate chance to relive past glory. To others, an opportunity to make money off their legacy, tainted by their spiral descent.

The Beatles and The Clash are examples of bands who successfully resisted the call to reunite and therefore did not besmirch their musical legacy. After all, it is quite sad — rather than pathetic — as older people stagger around the stage and the recording studio trying to bilk them of their last vocal chord for money.

But now, Philippine music entertainment industry is currently aflutter and atwitter with news about the one-night reunion of the HOTDOG band.

There’s no point in repeating much of what has been written about a bunch of schoolboys that blazed the trail for the succeeding generation of Philippine music.  

Long before MTV’s AMP (Alternative Music Platform) was initiated to enhance local music, HOTDOG was already lording it over Philippine radio airwaves.

They were not fighting for the right to be aired alongside American music. They showed why they should be aired alongside American music.

And it wasn’t that they were providing an alternative to mainstream music in the 70s. It was that they created a new sound that reflected contemporary Philippine music.

Thus, the birth of Manila Sound.

No other song in Philippine music history has had as much impact as the song MANILA, practically becoming the national anthem sung by every OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) expatriate, or Balikbayans (Returning/Visiting Filipino), or tourists, in any Filipino gathering in any part of the known world.

No other.

And that’s just one of many of their hits that have been turned into movies and have been embedded in the local language.

You see, most Philippine bands have it all wrong. They think the secret to longevity involves writing meaningful songs, relentlessly working the industry, and keeping your brand as fodder in the tabloids.

Hotdog, by sheer force of nature, knew better.

The band simply evolved yet left an indelible mark in Philippine music history for every succeeding musician to realize that true fame is fostered on wacky generational prints, oversized clogs, white linen pants, Gucci-covered ankles, ice cream that melts, a beauty queen here and there, a woman that defines disco, the noise of the city, the cacophony of sound, and having just the right number of exotic and talented women to stand onstage.

Kick in timeless melody and lyrics that are more poetry than a song and you have what is called a classic.

These are the things that soothe people’s souls in good and bad times.

You see, nostalgia is a powerful thing.  As we age, we tend to retreat to the comforts of our young and dumb days, those days when music hit us hard and left a mark.

And those comforts can be relived by seeing the Hotdog sing songs that touched your soul: “Tuwing kita’y nakikita, ako ay natutunaw, parang ice cream na dilaw … sa ilalim ng araw,” (Every time I see you, I melt … like a yellow ice cream under the sun) which encapsulates the innocence of first love. “Ikaw ang Miss Universe ng buhay ko.” (You are the Miss Universe of my life) which, in a country obsessed with beauty queens, transforms a woman far better than the label. “Beh buti nga, ngayon ay bold star na kami, siguro’y tumutulo ang laway mo.” (Pooh, I’m a bold star now; I betcha you’re drooling) which speaks of a successful vengeance from a spurned lover and served deliciously cold.

The thing about the HOTDOG band is that they come with a lot of hype. And the worse part, the hype are all true. How could you put the band in a category when they created their own? How could you say they revolutionized the industry when there was no regime to change?

They were young.

They were kids.

They could sing.

And they sang.

And spoke to an entire generation that now controls the entire Republic of the Philippines.

So should bands of today sound like the Hotdog?

Don’t be an idiot.

The only thing one should copy from the band is their sheer tenacity in showcasing to the world the unique music of the country, its own voice, its own heart, its own identity. You can never be The Beatles, but you can be the next Eraserheads. You can never be Boyz To Men. But you can be the next Apo Hiking Society.

True, the Hotdog band eventually fathered the birth of the Original Pilipino Music (OPM), and every musician that plucked a string, beat a drum, hummed a tune, experimented with melody has contributed to its growth. The Philippines is no longer considered the entertainment capital of Asia. It IS the entertainment capital of Asia, if not the world. Go around every music bar, karaoke bar, hotel lounge, or even recording studios all over the world and you’ll find a Filipino musician there. Or who thinks he or she is a musician.

An anecdote wishes to be inserted at this point: A fellow expatriate once told me that when he was in South Africa he was invited by the locals to go up to the mountains to a famous music bar. When he got there, he was floored to see Filipino entertainers.

As such OPM, under the helm of talented hitmaker musician, Ogie Alcasid, is expected to reaffirm what the world knows. We are a country that loves to sing: Basil Valdez, Jose Mari Chan, Eddie Peregrina, Victor Wood continue to be played as piped-in music in the malls here in Indonesia. The biggest Asian singer in the world’s largest Moslem population is a guy named Christian (Bautista). My God we have Lea Salonga’s vocal chord! We have Charice screaming all over the world. We have Monique Wilson’s and Pinky Amador’s musical and theatrical talents, and with beauty to boot! We have Arnel Pineda as the new voice of Journey. We have Apol singing with Black Eyed Peas. We have Nicole heading Pussycat Dolls.

And yes, we produced April Boy Regino.

Music runs deep for us. If historian Ambeth Ocampo would look deep enough, I bet he’d find a record of some Filipino with a guitar or singing a song while they were framing the Constitution of the Republic.

The thing is, this HOTDOG reunion concert is nothing but a testament to what Philippine Music is all about, what it should be, and where it should go … exactly how they inadvertently shaped the musical landscape.

This isn’t a question as to who the greatest Philippine band is, but rather, what else can we do to produce more bands like what the Hotdog has done.

And on May 16, 2011 at the Dusit Hotel in Makati City, the memories of those innocent years will come flooding back.

I’m certain that after a while it will no longer be about the band or the music … it’s just sheer poetry of Philippine life.



About Asmartrock

N. Mark Castro is the Southeast Asia Director of JUMP DIGITAL Asia, which is an internationally-awarded and fully integrated digital marketing agency with 5 out of 10 offices in the ASEAN region. He is also the Secretary General of the Philippine Business Club Indonesia, managing and assisting the traffic of investments between the Philippines and Indonesia. He shuttles between Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia, and Australia. The views posted here are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of the companies he represents.

Posted on July 28, 2012, in Music and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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