eK! is electronic Kabalen, a web-exclusive Kapampangan journal of ideas

cecile s. yumul
cecile s yumul RECENTLY, ONE weekend of January 2012 my housekeeper said, "Atin mantun keka lalaki, maputi ne buak, ene bisang lungub." The dog-kids were in an uproar because they don't approve of strangers lingering outside the gate.

Hurriedly I went to find out who the old man was. He wasn't old of course; it was because Andy Alviz rather kinda liked to wear his salt and pepper hairstyle. Without much to say about his surprise visit, he simply told me to listen to his latest work, the CD entitled Mabalacat. After going through it for the nth time since I first played it at home, on my radio show on GVAM 792 khz, 11:00 to 12:00 noon, and on this February 4th (as I write this) to celebrate Mabalacat's 300th year on B.U.K.A.S. Bayan show over DWRW 95.1 FM, simulcast over CLTV 36 at 8:30 to 9 a.m.—allow me to share Mabalacat 300 memories with you.

With Mabalacat so close to cityhood in mind, the CD's opening track is a musical essay with all the pomp and galore expected of an Alviz production. It lifts you, makes you dream big and expect more in the future promised as our town shifts gears to cityhood.

In a second or two the mood shifts to the 2nd track's intro, with violin strains of a nostalgia trip to the laidback Mabalacat we have mostly known: of sugarcane fields, of rice fields, of the railroad tracks, of the kamikaze field; of the old Bondoc bakery just across the church by the bridge with its first to be known hot pandesal and San Nicolas cookies; of the first woman-built hill where sits the house of Doña Africa; of Bana, where the first house on a hill was built by Don Marcelino Tiglao and stayed there his son afflicted with TB to catch the freshest of air; Maskup picnic grounds where the stream water flowed and shrimps, gurami and other fresh water fish thrived. But still, Mabalacat, agaganaka daka; ulian at ulian me because it is home; it is what has turned you into what you are now and will be more.

After this deluge of mixed memories of the Mabalacat we once knew, Andy pulls you farther to your roots to where it all started, with the Balacat and its flowers when itwas still in abundance, discovered and settled in by the pioneers who called it their home, Mabalacat. Then the chorus snaps you back to present times, on the 3rd track that is tailored fit for the grand change from town to city. I imagine Mayor Boking Morales with his court (I mean the councilors) walking to the beat of the music, feeling like royalty—and why not, since he will be (again ) in history the first city mayor of Mabalacat. Iyapus me ing Mabalacat king metung a Miss Mabalacat, malagu, aliua ya talakad, makalikad! Sige, Mabalacat City, parada me irampa me! Pagmaragul taya.

Following all the high-tripping from the first three tracks, Andy Alviz next entices you to a slow dance and sway under the moonlit and starry sky. Then somewhere in the song you are reminded of the roar of Clark Air Force Base's airplanes and the Cope Thunder troop flying over the roofs of Mabalacat residents, inviting a mixture of reactions—from "Tanay da ra, oreni na naman, 'nak puta, aduang duminggu na naman singka kaklak"; "aru, dakal no na naman ding mistisu kanyan, Bawi, PX time, black market, surplus"; "good time, nighttime, manararu no nanaman, galgal no naman laman deng CG", at mialiua pa—ika na ing misundu. You plunge into the scent of everything Stateside for a while, from music to food, until you decide on a mugful of steaming coffee or a pot of tea with company or by your lonesome, then curl up on an old sofa that smells of family history. The music lulls you to further remembrance of many thunder-filled or rainy nights while Apu or Ingkung gather grandchildren squatted on the floor to tell of how some of the richest names in Mabalacat once lost acres of land over gambling tables by betting land titles like paper money, of Ysagani Ybarra's Capre, of patianak and magkukutud, White Lady king lalam daring acacia Mabiga, and other ghostly tales of Mabalacat. Naman, Mabalacat, you're on my mind.

When you think you're about ready to catch a nap, the mood swings to a crescendo of everything you can imagine, visually powerful, of young women, the best of the year's twenty-seven beauties, lovely representatives who comprise the barangays' total. Just close your eyes for a flashback of all the beauty pageants you've seen, romp to the beat of track 5 and 6. Whew. Grand, incredible! Aren't they all beautiful? Ask any mother of a contestant in the audience.

Once more, the lure of guitar strains can't get you out of the trance that you probably had at one time or another while "Mamialungan Kata" played the role in the previous track. One digs into the times gone by with and among friends now most likely settled around the globe, unless they've chosen, like us, to drop anchor to hold us rooted in residence here in Mabalacat. To mention a few, Sigfried Tiglao Ranada, who'd ventured long before it was in fashion to compose original music and became a household name in the 70's-80's, as Lolita Carbon acknowledged in her concerts whenever invited in Pampanga long before her band Asin became legendary. Then there's the physics instructor, better known as the musician and director of musical plays staged in Mabalacat and Angeles way back in the 70's, who is, you all chorus, "JAD" (short for Jose Angeles Dayrit)—also a walking library he. Then there's Martin Jocom Siopongco (yes, from the Siopongco clan of Mabalacat), who finished at the New York Film Institute, a green card holder, shuttling between theland of greenbacks and the land of pesus-pesus mu, until he decided to stay put and make a significant difference in the lives of the Maharlikan blood! How "Bilog Ang Buwan" can it get every month, or rebut with "Magulang" every time they spin "Anak"? Those first two songs are Mabalacat-born, from the Ranada brothers, Sieg a.k.a. Ysagani Ybarra and Rock(+).

On the verge of melodramatic recollections, you get jolted by a contemporary flavor in rhyme and music. While the musical appeal is global, it is distinctly all the way a Kapampangan tribute, to borrow the words of Andy Alviz himself, "para karen anggang Kapampangang mapagsisti". I leave it to you to keep on repeating the song till your love handles ache from this naughty track. On hindsight, it will, however, remind you of love, true love with eyes wide open, that goes and accepts beyond the physical attributes. Better believe it as Andy convinces you na "Kursunada Ra Ka Paglolon Da Ka!"

One's history is never complete in Pampanga without our kapatad a Aeta. In keeping with authenticity, Andy successfully brings you into the depths even of Apu Mallari and Pinatubu as your heart follows the katutubu. It is tribal, it is ancient, it is felt, it is strong. It tells you in conscience how much of a patriot and a lover of one's land of birth can one come as close as the Aeta's. I stomp my feet, I beat my heart, I find my soul in Mabalacat.

As if this weren't enough, the strains of the following track, whether you understand Kapampangan or believe in the spiritual call of a melody, pushes the memory bank to think of parols, candles and processions, of festivals in the Lubenas prior to Christmas or the opulence of religiosity, markedly a Spanish influence in the Holy Week rituals from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. I bow my head in quiet contemplation of the drums and the chorus pulling me to march in measured steps as I did then in younger days with my mother, for she was a maker of religious costumes that dressed the Aralilla's Our Lady of Sorrows and the Siopongco's Santa Veronica brought out in their Caro for the Holy week procession annually in Mabalacat.

To weave 300 years of history in one sitting is beyond anyone's capacity, but music allows you to travel in and out of the ages with changing stories every time the music is played. Closing in perfection is coming full circle from beginning to end with "Atin Ku Pung Singsing". For those who continue to look for their lost singsing it all adds up to coming home, returning to find your roots and acknowledging the greatness of your identity, in color, in language, in character.

This is what Andy Alviz gave: a vehicle for a historical time travel with a changing landscape of your own memories every time you hear the music. It is your story; it is part of what made Mabalacat from year 1 to 300. You've read just some and they are in but one sitting. What's yours?


[About the author. A renaissance social worker, a revolutionary teacher, a supporter of artists, a trail-blazing woman of substance, Cecile S. Yumul is an embodiment of the phrase "Carpe diem!" This multi-awarded teacher/broadcast journalist started her broadcasting career over 27 years ago. Her radio/tv show "Bukas Bayan" has been on air since 1999 and is still airing with a multi-sectoral fan base. She is an accomplished cook, a mystic gardener, an actress, and a true environmentalist—a distinction she is indeed proud of.]

-Posted: 9:21 AM 2/13/12 | More of this author on eK!
Nextnext