I use to wonder why my father, together with my uncles and friends, would tend to blurt and croon with old Hotdogs or Rico J. Puno or Apo Hiking Society song over the karaoke during their drinking sessions. The songs are so corny. It brings me goosebumps just to listen to those tunes. I would often ask myself how on earth could someone like, or worse, love that kind of song? its poetic alright, but it’s passe. As a part of the so called generation X, those songs are so totally uncool. I can’t even imagine myself listening to those song even just for kicks. But that was eons ago. Everytime I shout corny when my father sings, he would just look at me and smile, a smile that I never understood what for.He’ll grab the microphone and would begin to sing anyway. Now I think I have finally found the wisdom to finally understand.
I remember the time when I was in the sixth grade, I was so skinny then. My blue and white pair of uniform hang loosely on my body as if it’s going to fall off any time. The weight of my backpack seems to double mine but I was unmindful of its weight, the sun shines with such cruelty but that too was not an issue to me, I was too excited to go. Everyday at noon I stop by that old macopa tree, I would sit on the makeshift kawayan bench under it, and stare at the pink fibers from the flowers of macopa strewn majestically all over the place, There I would patiently wait for manong Marlo to come out. I could already hear the music of Yano playing over his stereo, but that’s not what I was there for. An as if on a cue, Manong Marlo would come out and would look directly under the macopa tree, I would wave my hands to him and he would respond with a nod, and with a knowing smile on his face. After a few minutes, Yano’s music would stop and the voice of Ely Buendia and the music of the heads would fill the air.
I would sit there unmindful of the time, humming with the tune of Toyang and Pare ko. The seemingly unpolished sound of the heads’ music had a calming effect on me. God knows how much I wanted to have a copy of that first album called ultraelectromagneticpop, but as a twelve years old, I don’t have that kind of money, I even don’t have the money to ride the calesa back then. I went to school on foot and go home the same way. Life was harder then. My parents, though they tried not to show it to us, are trying to make both ends meet. My mother’s dry goods business is barely earning and my father’s furniture business is struggling. those were tough times. And even though I could have found a way to save some money and buy the album, I couldn’t have found a way to listen to it. We don’t even have a cassete player at home back then. So there I was, Hugging the music, feeling the hot wind kissing my twelve year old cheeks, finding solace with the Eraserheads under the old macopa tree. After a while, I would see manong Marlo waving at me and pointing at his old. It is time to go home, I still have to go to the school in the afternoon. So I pick up my bag, wave manong Marlo goodbye and thank you and race myself home.
During my high school days, me and my friends would sing and humm with the songs from the Circus album, songs like Kailan, Magasin, Alapaap, With A Smile and Sembreak could be heard all over the vegetable garden, Those songs would make working in the field and tending vegetable plots (Gardening was part of our High School Carriculum) bearable. They made high school hip and cool.
After high school I began collecting their album, the album cutterpillow became my favorite, but just the same I got all their album from the Ultraelectromagneticpop to their EP called Banana Type up to their last album called carbon stereoxide, The Eheads is the band of our time.
In 2002, the band announced their disbandment and It broke a lot of hearts, especially mine. I can hardly believe my ears as I watch and paid attention to every word the TV newscaster is saying. The band that defined our generation is no more. Raymund Marasigan went on and fronted the band Sandwich, Buddy Zabala joined The Dawn, Marcus Adoro formed his own band called Markus Hiway, and Ely Buendia formed The Mongols and later Pupils. And me? I moved on as well. After sometime I forgot about the heads and drowned myself with work.
Just last week while me and my friends went out for lunch in Sugpuan, we decided to try the Karaoke. They pushed the mike in my face egging me to sing first. Not wanting to play the part of a Killjoy, I grabbed the microphone, chose a song and dropped a five peso coin on the coin slot. its is s song that I haven’t heard for quite sometime now. The song “with a smile” began with a simple guitar rift, The Intro of the song alone brings me someplace else, some other time, another life that I though was gone forever. It brought me back to the singing at the vegetable garden. Back under that old macopa tree. I feel so young again, way young, when everything is simple and uncomplicated. those were tough times, but those were happy times. As the song continue, I heard a collective sound of “eeeeeeeewwwww!!!” all around me. I faced my some of my companions and said “what’s wrong with the song?”. Then I realized, that even though the age gap is not that big (Im in my mid-twentys), some of my companions are in a different generation some of them are still their late teens to early twenties, they listen to other bands like Hale or Bamboo or whatever band that dominates the airwaves nowadays. The Days of the Eraserheads is a history to them just like my father’s Rico J and The Hotdog’s song are passe to me. I looked at them and smiled, I remember my father smiling at me the same way before. I grabbed the microphone and sang my heart out anyway. It is my song, my generation. I think Ifinally found the wisdom to understand the song and my father’s smile. It’s not about how old the song is or how corny the singer feels, It’s about the time, the place and most of all, it’s about the agelessness of the heart.