‘Manila Disco’ sound hits popular ‘Grand Performances Summer Concert’By Cecile Ochoa
Los Angeles, CA – The great Manila Disco music of the 70s will make a mark in Los Angeles’ cultural landscape August 13 from 8 p.m. as part of the “Grand Performances Outdoor Summer Series” in downtown L.A.
Produced by filmmaker and local dj host Joel Quizon and Rani de Leon, “Disco Manila” will re-live familiar sounds during the Martial Law years in 1972 popularized by the HotDogs (“Ikaw ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko”), Apo Hiking Society (“Mahirap Magmahal ng Syota ng Iba”), VST & Co (“Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko”), among others. Most of the Manila sound derives from Original Pilipino Music (OPM) compositions.
Among the performers include Spanky Rigor and Roger Rigor of VST & CO, Jet Montelibano (of MUSIC & MAGIC), Jessica Casas (of SOMETHING SPECIAL), Nino de Jesus (of NEW MINSTRELS), Jo¬Ann Visitacion, Fulton Montoya, 4700 Band: Maricar Cabrera, Ninette Tenza, Alvin Reyes, Val Villar, • Eva Caparas (of MUSIC & MAGIC) . It will feature a special performance by Mark Redito FKA SPAZZKID, a contemporary electronic artist. Mark will be reinterpreting and remixing classic tracks of the era.
Quizon who traces his roots to the Philippines’ quintessential entertainer-comedian Dolphy, his uncle, said there has been a resurgence of Manila disco music in the last few years both in the Philippines and the U.S. “Proof is the heightened demand in ebay and other auction sites for vintage copies of these sounds going for $50 upwards. Quizon cited 70s artist Bong Penera’s SAMBA SONG album which he said fetched a handsome $500 in a latest auction. Fact check on eBay showed that in 2008, two bids for originals ended at $300 and another for $139 where the bids started at $50.
“It’s fascinating how the martial law era music that featured sentimental sounds of Tagalog and English (taglish) lyrics would draw upon nostalgia among the generations of baby boomers and gen-xers (born between 1960 and 1980 in the United States).
“Manila Sound and OPM bring back the smell, the sights of one’s neighborhood, the barkadas, the ‘hood that we have now left behind,” Quizon reminiscences.
“Pumapatak na naman ang ulan sa bubong ng bahay
Di maiwasang gumawa ng di inaasahang bagay
Laklak ng laklak ng beer magdamagan
May kahirapan at di maiwasan
Mabuti pa kaya, matulog ka nalang at baka sumakit ang tiyan.”
(Rain falls on the rooftop as usual, we gather among friends to drink some beer
Perhaps it’s better to stay home and sleep, avoid getting sick)
Like other OPMs it’s this sentimental lyrics of a popular rendition by Apo Hiking Society (“Pumapatak na naman ang Ulan”) that caters to any age because it captures the gamut of Filipino life among the rich and the poor.
Quizon is also a music curator and arts organizer. As a documentarist, his latest work is directing “The Cotabato Sessions,” a short music documentary featuring kulintang music from Southern Philippines, in partnership with New York based musician/composer, Susie Ibarra.
The co-producer of the show, Rani de Leon is DJ, Music Curator, & Arts Presenter who has steadily established a solid reputation and extensive network from over 15 years of involvement in events, theater, music, film, and cultural work. His passions in life are driven by the belief that arts & culture have a unique power in bringing people together for profound and unifying experiences.
One of the performers Jet Montelibano from Music and Magic band is an exponent of the OPM as he had performed with “Boyfriends,” “Hotdogs,” Kuh Ledesma, among others.
“Disco Manila” music had its peak during the final days of the Martial Law because at that time Filipinos were searching for an easy escape from politics,” said Montelibano who like Quizon is based in Los Angeles.
As a dj, Montelibano who owns a promotion firm “Creative Concepts” with wife Edith, said Manila disco sound is one of the most requested in the events that he managed locally. Our community here likes to hear these songs by Haji, Florante, VST and the like because these remind them of happy times back in the days. “As performers we bring them back to those memories.”Grand Performances host these events at the California Plaza ¬ 350 S. Grand Ave in downtown LA.
It has been recognized as the “Best Free Outdoor Summer Concert Series” by Los Angeles Magazine and called “a grand gift to the public” by the Los Angeles Times. It celebrates its 30th anniversary season in 2016.
The not-for-profit presents high¬ quality music, dance, theater, and more from around the world for free at California Plaza. It has developed a loyal audience, and an industry reputation for presenting and curating the most globally eclectic and forward ¬thinking summer series on the West Coast.