Of the songs that came out and captured the 1986 EDSA Revolution, one of the most iconic is definitely Yano’s "Kamusta Na?" Diving into detail, the song recounts particular scenes of the revolution: the human barricade against the tanks, the crowd praying Hail Mary’s in EDSA, and the celebration for the disposal of former President Marcos. But more than that, the song also served as a subtle commentary on the aftermath of the revolution. “Bahala na, bahala na, bahala na…”
And who can forget the sheer anger in "Trapo"? "Mas maraming absent kesa sa present / Di ginagawa, kanyang assignment / Mula lunes hanggang biyernes / Wala sa congress, panay beauty rest!" (Does that remind you of anyone?) Trapo actually meant traditional politics, and is evidently still used as a derogatory term for some politicians today. The song is pretty much a narration of what one could see around themselves in terms of the people in power. Abay barely contains his rage as he describes the corruption evident at the time and that, arguably, is still evident now.
This kind of writing is par for the course for frontman Dong Abay. Targeting anyone from the elite class, or religious leaders to, indeed, the president, Abay’s writing is at once direct and scathing, but tinged with dark humor. This, coupled with guitarist Eric Gancio’s folk/punk playing style made for a successful band, with their first self-titled album reaching quadruple platinum in 1994.
The quick rise to fame, however, was too much for the frontman. Abay struggled with clinical depression, which resulted in what he calls a self-imposed hiatus for the band. Luckily, the singer came out of the depression with an arsenal of new songs and poetry. He formed a new band, Pan, which, while successful, was short-lived as Abay decided to finish schooling.
Just when another release from the band didn’t seem likely, Gancio revived the Yano name, but notably without Abay. They released albums Tala and Ya Hindi No in 2013 and 2014 respectively. The band, comprised now of Gancio, drummer EJ Santos, and bassist Dave Ibao, recently performed in P Fest UK in Leeds.
Not one to be far from the music scene, Dong Abay then became a solo independent artist. He released an EP called Sampol in 2007 as part of his undergraduate thesis in UP. In 2012, he released Rebulto, with Buddy Zabala and Raimund Marasigan both producing and playing on the album.
1994 may seem like a long time ago, but it’s no doubt that Yano’s songs about Filipino society, like "Banal na Aso, Santong Kabayo," "Trapo," and "Tsinelas" still hold up and deserve a listen. And so do the artists’ solo endeavors, so be sure to listen up and watch out for any new releases.
Which Yano song was your favorite? Comment below!
Writer/photographer/non-musician that hopes to promote local independent music. Probably hanging out at a gig at this very moment...