The Makati Central Business District used to be a ghost town after office hours. But in recent years, a number of buildings in the Legaspi and Salcedo Village areas have opened restaurants and clubs that have allowed Makati City execs to unwind near their offices.
On Tuesday nights, The Plantation Bar & Bistro (G/F Spirit of Communications Bldg., 106 Palanca St., Makati City; tel. 0917-5800068) is full of young professionals dining and drinking while watching an acoustic gig featuring singer Suy Galvez and guitarist Edil Luyon.
On the night we visit, the place is quite noisy due to a group of friends who are getting drunk on white wine. A young woman in the group is so smashed that she keeps shouting, “Oh my God, oh my God!” in between her banter with buddies.
Thank God she stops blabbering when Suy and Edil start performing. Suy, a native of Davao, has a sweet, soulful voice. She breathes new life to such covers as The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and “Come Together.” She also interprets a few tunes by Ellie Goulding, her current favorite.
The Plantation sells San Miguel Pale Pilsen and Light both at P80. The chicken fingers and kilawing blue marlin are tasty enough for us to consider coming back, hopefully with no more rowdy bunch of customers who can’t handle drinks.
Two nights later we are on the other side of Makati City, at a place called Chico Rico Bar & Restaurant (1184 Pablo Ocampo Sr. Ext. cor. Visita St., Barangay Sta. Cruz; tel. 0917-4496221). It’s owned by Rico J. Puno, who hops from table to table to greet old buddies and meet new friends.
He calls that night’s gig “Throwback Thursday,” a popular term these days which simply means retro music.
The band onstage is the resurrected Music Making Company, whose current lineup includes such reliable veterans as keyboardist Egay Gonzales (also its musical director), bassist Cash Manalang and singer Cholo Santiago. The rest of the members are vocalists Joey San Andres, Milet Jacinto, Cathy Melendez and Rene Dumana, guitarist Danny Ong and drummer Lawrence Nolan.
Noticeable are the pleasing harmonies of the vocalists and Gonzales’ perky playing on a repertoire that can bring back a flood of memories to baby boomers: Friends of Distinction’s “The Way We Planned It” and “Grazing in the Grass”; Paul McCartney’s “The Girl is Mine”; APO’s “Magkayakap sa Dilim”; Lou Rawls’ “You’ll Never Find”; Rita Lee’s “Lanca Perfume”; and a Sergio Mendes medley.
“That’s strictly OPM,” Rico tells us, quickly adding, “Old People’s Music.” We nearly roll down with laughter as Rico keeps cracking jokes.
But things get serious when he climbs the stage to jam with the band. “Listen,” a female friend whispers, “he’s always in tune. Gustong gusto ko siya.”
Apparently, Rico has never lost the earthy, soulful quality of his voice as he sings “Kahit Maputi na ang Buhok Ko,” “Sorry, Pwede Ba?,” “Buhat” and his classic take on “The Way We Were”—whose added Tagalog lyrics made it one of the hallmarks of the Manila Sound, which helped jump-start his career.
Later, as friends and acquaintances bid him goodbye, Rico joins our table and gladly engages us in a long, animated conversation. His remembrance of the “misty water-colored mem’ries” of his early days and subsequent glorious pop career are sharp.
Like the late night at Spindle, the club where he started singing in the early 1970s, when FPJ picked him up, brought him to the actor’s Greenhills residence, and asked him to serenade Susan Roces who seemed to be in a foul mood. It seemed like the couple had a quarrel, Rico recalls, adding that he had to sing John Denver’s “Sunshine” over and over until he said, “Ma’am, sige na po, ngumiti na kayo.”
Or the time in 1975 when his lola called him to say, “sino ba yang tinutugtog sa radyo na Rico Puno?”—explaining to us that he’s known as Boy at home.
At a recent concert, Rico learned that Imelda Marcos was in the audience. “Ninang ko yan sa kasal. Sabi ko, ‘Si Madam, genius… akalain mo hanggang ngayon hindi pa nakukulong.”
He keeps talking till 2 a.m. As he walks out of his club, we see a sports car, a gleaming white Porsche. “Bayad na yan,” he quips. Classic Rico J.
Good news for Pinoy acts
Sometime ago we lost our way in Bonifacio Global City while looking for Vask (11th Ave. cor. 39th St.; tel 2176563), the restaurant that hosted the launch of BMBX Entertainment, a company formed by Filipino-American rap musician apl.de.ap and his manager, Audie Vergara.
Never mind if we were late for dinner; ’cause what mattered was the news that the Los Angeles-based BMBX (pronounced as boombox) is here to sign up Pinoy music artists and promote them worldwide. Its first act is the rap-metal band Slapshock.
The band’s frontman, Jamir Garcia, was also at Vask and recalled the priceless experience he had while recording its new EP, “Night Owls,” in LA. The EP was launched yesterday. Log on to Slapshock’s Facebook page for more details.