Macho gwapitos! Upcoming PhilPost stamps fete 3 OPM icons
MANILA, Philippines — They’ve put their indelible stamp on the history of Original Pilipino Music (OPM).
Fittingly, in November, co-founder and lead singer Rene Garcia of seminal band Hotdog, the “Total Entertainer” Rico J. Puno, and Pinoy Rock icon Joseph “Pepe” Smith will get their own.
To mark this year’s National Stamp Collecting Month, the Philippine Postal Corp. (PhilPost) will release a series of “Pinoy Music Icons” stamps honoring Garcia, Puno and Smith, who passed away within just five months of each other — Garcia, 65, in September 2018; followed the next month by Puno, 65; then Smith, 71, in January this year.
Garcia, together with his brother, Dennis, founded Hotdog when they were teenagers. Rene was the lead vocalist, lead guitarist and main melody writer while Dennis was the bassist and the main lyricist.
Together with an army of musicians and female vocalists, Hotdog and the Garcia brothers burst into the local music scene with their upbeat and witty original songs such as “Pers Lab,” “Bongga Ka Day,” “Annie Batungbakal,” “Behh Buti Nga,” “Ikaw Ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko,” and “Manila” that formed the foundation of the Manila Sound, which became shorthand for original Filipino music in the early 1970s.
As Dennis is wont to say, their songs that audaciously mixed English and Filipino words were among the first to become popular “from Forbes to Forbes Park,” meaning they crossed boundaries and appealed to all income classes at a time when foreign music dominated the airwaves and it was “not cool” to write songs in Filipino.
Like Garcia, the incomparable Smith was a pioneer.
While the inimitable Smith initially became known for his note-perfect execution of foreign rock and roll music in the late 1960s, he, along with Mike Hanopol and Wally Gonzalez formed the Juan de la Cruz band and took all the influences from western music and injected them with their own sentiments to produce a string of hits such as “Beep Beep,” “Balong Malalim,” and the anthemic “Himig Natin.”
It was Juan de la Cruz that raised the flag for Pinoy rock and their brand of music continues to influence local bands that followed in their wake.
Puno, meanwhile, had few peers among vocalists and his raspy voice helped define the golden years of OPM in the 1970s and the 1980s.
Puno, who cut his teeth in the live music circuit singing in lounges such as Spindle, eventually became one of the most popular recording artists during those peak years of OPM and is best known for interpreting such classics as “May Bukas Pa,” “Macho Gwapito,” “Kapalaran,” “Lupa,” “Cartada Dies,” and “Sorry Na, Pwede Ba?”
Linking past and present
Maxi Sta. Maria, OIC-Office of the assistant postmaster general for marketing and management support services, told the Inquirer that by featuring these three Filipino music icons, PHLPost gets to “not only pay tribute to their big role/influence on Filipino music as part of our history, culture and arts, but most of all, their role in linking the past and present generations through their own brand of music, paving the way for the further enhancement of the OPM brand.”
PHLPost chose November to feature the icons to add spice to the celebration of National Stamp Collecting Month, which seeks to raise the public’s appreciation for the value and significance of philately, or the study and collection of stamps.
“Stamps serve as tiny windows of a nation. It’s about time to show the other nations the big role of OPM as part of Filipino culture,” Sta. Maria said.
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