Wanted: A bigger audienceBy Jill Tan Radovan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A five-piece ensemble of young, 20-something musicians, The Flaming Youth dispels preconceived notions one may have regarding gospel music. Composed of Rem Paguio on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Alvin Bonaobra on lead guitar, Kiel Romero on bass, Cha Bonaobra on drums and Micah Herrero on keyboards, this contemporary Christian band brought together by a common love for music and unyielding faith places Christian music on an entirely different pedestal altogether.
Vocalist Rem Paguio classifies their music as pop-punk, with its lyrically uplifting, pop-flavored, guitar-infused sound. Citing J-Rock/J-Pop bands Houkago Teatime and Ketchup Mania as primary influences, it’s no wonder the band’s members are clad in cosplay-inspired attire during live performances. Not exactly what you’d expect from your typical Christian band, if I may say so.
Written by first time songwriter and manager Mark Ian Ignacio, The Flaming Youth’s songs speak of love and faith in the Creator, but are neither preachy nor imposing. In no way do the lyrics evoke the sinner in need of repentance; rather, the songs implicitly suggest joy and fulfillment in one’s faith.
If not for the mention of God’s name in the lyrics, the quick-cadenced, riff-laden carrier single “Bakas ng Luha” could easily be mistaken for a love struck pop ditty typically heard on the radio. “Kaya’t sa tuwing kapiling ka/Ligaya ang aking nadarama/Ang puso ko’y iyong-iyo/Ang buhay ko’y alay sa’yo.” The words papuri and Diyos are uttered throughout the track, and that’s the only time you realize it’s a Christian song you’re listening to. Two other highly recommended tracks are “My Foolish Heart” and “Jesus I Love You So.”
The profession of one’s faith is free-spiritedly and light-heartedly executed. Rem’s youthful, sparkly voice renders the finishing touch and does the trick, inevitably spawning a differentiated brand of Christian music.
For someone who experiences music only through local mainstream radio, going to places like Route 196 or ’70s Bistro would be a strange experience. He would most likely assume that a pilgrimage to such venues would mean unpleasantly loud, incomprehensible music.
If your musical preferences veer towards songs that serenade and soothe rather than pump up and ignite, then Kaloy is one band you should listen to. Belonging to the same church, the band’s original members— vocalist and guitarist CJ Ubaldo and John Panaguiton, also on guitar, along with their former drummer—have been playing for their community since 2009, but it was only February of this year that Kaloy was officially formed, with the addition of bassist Jas Santos and new drummer Josef Sarabia.
Kaloy’s music is a fluid mix of light, delightful melodies paired with incandescent—yes, incandescent!—lyrics, and alludes to a topic that we all associate with: love.
CJ’s inspired songwriting is a knot of simple, easy-to-understand yet earnest statements that convey the most sincere of intentions, moving one to believe that love is indeed a many-splendored thing.
Kaloy’s music touches the heart. This is probably why it’s commonplace to find the band playing at a wedding. All songs were deliberately written in Filipino, radiating radio-friendly vibe and mass appeal. Even the band’s name—derived from one of CJ’s monikers—was chosen particularly because it sounds patently Pinoy.
Kaloy has performed as the front act for reggae band Brownman Revival at ’70s Bistro on several occasions and has also played at Amos Café. The band is currently focused on finishing its first EP, aptly titled “Kulay ng Pag-Ibig,” and will resume with gigs once its EP is released in October. One could expect Kaloy’s exceptional talent to resonate in the carrier single “Sa Yo,” as well as in the cheery follow-up “Kulay.”
Most of you were probably unaware of these bands prior to reading this. The Flaming Youth and Kaloy have been around for some time, but have not been blessed with the opportunity to be heard by a larger audience.
Limited access to the listening public is a prevailing problem for most local independent artists. If the greater listening public would actually make an effort to hunt for and appreciate original homegrown independently produced music, it just might convince the major labels to shift investments. As long as the common Juan and the impressionable yuppie refuse to come out of their comfort zones, however, the industry will forever be impaired, even as Filipino music itself flourishes and survives. Jill Tan Radovan, contributor