Rico Blanco Songbook

I checked again the Rico Blanco Songbook and I’m still as disinterested as I was before. Songs by Mayonnaise, Ebe Dancel, and December Avenue, I thought were OK. But the rest were kind of for die-hard Bruce Willis fans only.

“Liwanag Sa Dilim” gives me one more reason to think, that, this band is one-hit wonder. Sorry, I mean This Band. Earl Generao’s MV for his version of “Yugto” is exactly what I wanted to do whenever I’m alone and listening to this particular Rico Blanco song—I dance like a madman. And I don’t know how to dance. It’s epic, the music video. Epic. Fail. “A Love to Share,” sung by Janine Teňoso, is still as Coldplay-ish now as it was before. But in the absence of any Coldplay songs dominating whatever playlist we have now, it’s OK. But Blanco’s messianic aspirations in the lyrics is still somewhat cringe.

Mayonnaise’s music video for “Lipat Bahay” I liked more than the rest, for its story about the plight of a medical worker, especially during this pandemic. The boring routine, the dismal wage, the inexistent hazard pay, the platitudes they get on social media vs. the actual treatment they receive, and that thought to just leave it all behind, and look for better job opportunities abroad. Thus, giving a different, yet more relevant meaning to lipat-bahay and the line “Hindi ko yata kayang iwanan ka.” I mean, music videos like that one from December Avenue, they’re touching. But better pay is what they really need!

Too bad Callalily failed to ruin a good song this time (“241”). Fortunately, its music video did. I thought it was trying so hard to be relevant. Its depiction of minors engaged in sexual activities and prostitution is so heavy-handed, it’s almost the exact opposite of the “Lipat Bahay” MV in terms of subtlety. Sure, prostitution is bad. Child prostitution, even worse. But it doesn’t match the song, the music, the lyrics (Wishing on a silver cloud crawling across the moonbeams/A summer night in heaven between the stars and waves). Maybe the director focused on the line, “I wanted to turn you on” a little too much. And if you watch the video, there’s a scene that’s exactly the literal interpretation of that.

If you haven’t notice, the Songbook doesn’t include any song from Rivermaya’s first four albums, aside from “Hinahanap-hanap Kita,” off Atomic Bomb. The songs included are either from Rivermaya’s releases under Viva, or songs released by Rico Blanco as a solo artist. “Hinahanap-hanap kita” was included maybe because Viva already had the permit to use it (from Sony-BMG) back when Regine Velasquez covered the song years ago.

The version of the song included in the album was good enough for me to get curious and look for Raphiel Shannon’s other songs on YouTube. But I don’t have much time. And maybe it’s not really her, it’s the song. That it’s really that hard to ruin this song. It’s that great. And the lyrics, man. Fuck! Sa school, sa flag ceremony, hanggang uwian araw-araw. You can’t get any more nostalgic than that. And that final line! At kahit pa magka-anak kayo’t magkatuluyan balang araw. I don’t know, man. This is another one of those—to paraphrase Junot Diaz—the time required for love to fade to HALF of its value is a very very long time. Maybe a lifetime. Maybe.

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