with his own brand of rasta, i cannot seem to count how many nights my feet has carried me to mts to see him play solo, or with his PLO (popong landero organization).
been quite long though since i heard him play solo. and last night was a reward indeed. the taboan in mts is quite huge, and a lone guitarist could be dwarfed by the logo alone and the speakers around him, much more the the gymnasium-like lay-out of bars and tables. but popong, the kaliweteng guitarista, played as if the stage revered his presence, and the audience dancing to his beats, mostly in their minds (well you know how davao audience are).
he played cover songs by sting, u2 and of course, bob marley. but the most interesting part in last night's repertoire was his originals, which he has effortlessly interspersed with the covers. seamless and easy, he crooned in bisaya, tagalog and in english, with obvious fusing of folk, rock, reggae and ethnic.
and as if that is not enough, he sang a birthday song from the musicale Salima, in which he was the musical director. while eating viet-cong porkchop in asian fusion, i just have to stop and admire the melody, the lyrics and the emotions that the song brings. 'twas the voice of a father with nothing to give his daughter for her birthday except a song. a song that tells of blessings and lessons only a wise man can share.
i ended the night with tatit and angie, staying until the last song. i earlier planned to get off early as my eyelids felt the weight of the work of the day and the stuff that i still need to do next few days. but his last song in the first set convinced me to stay on:
...nariyan ang awit, hanggang naririyan kayo...
and glad i did.
his latest album launches on august 20, 2004 at kanto, matina town square.