Acoustic singer-songwriter Noel Cabangon felt "overwhelmed" when he performed in front of the multitude gathered at the Quirino Grandstand for the inauguration of the 15th President of the Philippines yesterday, June 30.
"It was very overwhelming ’coz of the spirit of hope na ine-exude ng mga tao at buong inauguration na ’yon," recalls the acoustic singer.
For his first piece, Noel performed "Tungo sa Pagbabago, Para sa Pagbabago," an original composition that he created specifically for the presidential campaign of then Senator Noynoy Aquino.
His performance of "Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino" was so engaging that it prompted President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar Binay to rise from their seats and sing along as the folk singer strummed his guitar. Many audience members also swayed their hands as they responded enthusiastically to the nationalistic lyrics of his song.
The chorus is pretty straightforward when it comes to reminding Filipinos about following rules of the law: "Ako’y isang mabuting Pilipino / Minamahal ko ang Bayan ko / Tinutupad ko ang aking mga tungkunin /
Sinusunod ko ang kanyang mga alituntunin"
Noel told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in a phone interview earlier today, July 1, how he came up with this song, which was first played live three years ago on FM station NU 107.
He narrates, "I wrote ’Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino’ several years ago against graft and corruption and against those na walang delicadeza at harap-harapang nagnanakaw sa bayan. I was passing through Commonwealth and I saw all the violations done in the street. The song asks the question: "How can we be a good citizen? Or how can you do that while holding the highest position in the land?"
That afternoon, Noel, Ogie Alcasid, Jed Madela, Jim Paredes, Mae Paner (more popularly known as Juana Change), Nina, Christian Bautista, Gary Valenciano and Regine Velasquez also lent their talents for the inaugural song "Bagong Pilipinas."
The Symphony Orchestra, ’70s Band, the Madrigal Singers and De La Salle’s singing group Kundirana served as the back-up for the original composition, which is a collaboration of Noel and Ogie.
NATIONALISM THROUGH SONGS. Noel’s appearance onstage reminded Filipinos of his talent in imparting nationalism through his compositions.
He started out as a folk singer in the ’80s who performed in bars and in concert venues abroad.
In 1987, Noel formed Buklod along with Rene Boncocan and Rom Dongeto. Their folk-rock group wrote songs and performed in political rallies and concerts from 1987-1994. They also released three albums that tackled socio-political issues. The group’s first album, Bukid at Buhay, featured the lives, struggles and aspirations of the Filipino peasants; Tatsulok, highlighted human rights; and Sa Kandungan ng Kalikasan, is their advocacy album on the environment.
When he became a solo artist, Noel became known as a prolific songwriter who composes songs for causes that he believes in. He became a mainstream figure when his song "Kanlungan" was used as the theme of a burger TV commercial.
His latest release, the 15-track album Byahe from Universal Records, contains OPM classics of the ’70s and ’80s. He even collaborated with Imago’s Aia de Leon to do an updated version of "Kanlungan" for this album.
As a member of the local music industry, what would Noel ask from the newly elected President? "Hihingin ko lang ang mga pagbabago na pinangako niya sa mga Pilipino.
"But you know, the burden is not on him...the burden is on us. He cannot do all the work. We put him there but he cannot do all the work. Malaki ang role natin para sa pagbabago."
Noel says that this is advocacy in life: to initiate change through the use of his music. "I will continue campaigning for good citizenship, especially among the youth."
Here’s hoping that those who hear him will not only sway their hands and sing along but also work hand-in-hand in implementing the much-needed change in the country.
(CLICK HERE to view photos taken during the inauguration of President Noynoy Aquino)