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Mga Awit ng Tanod-lupa

For many people this album is the Bagong Lumad album. Gongs and brass bells, wood and bamboo, tight vocal blending, environmental advocacy… it branded me as an eco-think pro-environment advocate wielding a ton of indigenous instruments. The songs in this 1991 release originally formed the core repertoire for a 1988-89 national concert tour organized by the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Outreach and Exchange Program. Thus, unlike most other albums, the songs here had already been performed over and over again. Much of the “live” energy was captured in the studio.

The tour was titled the same as the album; the performances were structured according to Dr. Barry Commoner’s Four Laws of Ecology which I had encountered earlier while working with Kinaiyahan Foundation. I use the same four laws today – they are so universal that one can approach practically any issue or educational objective with the laws as a general framework:

All things are interrelated.
Everything must go somewhere.
Nature knows best.
No such thing as a free lunch.

The first song, Magkaugnay, has become a school staple. More children know and have danced to this song than know the singer-composer. It is my song version of the first photograph of the earth as seen from the moon, written in the hope that the simple fact of our basic one-ness will eventually dawn upon us.

Karaniwang Tao received the most airplay as the “carrier single” and people still associate the song with me. The original indie edition of 1000 cassettes actually had Onie singing this song – I cast him as the singer precisely because, to me, Onie’s voice is Everyman’s voice. Practical promo considerations led to my singing it for the commercial release.

To produce the album I wrote a proposal and submitted it, naturally, to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It was approved just as my savings account was down to PhP 2000.00 – and just as I had made arrangements with Apo Hiking Society’s manager Butch Dansto try my luck in Manila’s entertainment scene. Part of the money from the DENR grant helped me ship myself, spouse Jessie, and Bagong Lumad - now down to Noe, Onie, and Bayang - to Manila, to camp out at the Dans residence. We recorded at Jim Paredes’ Circle of Fifths studio. Butch struck a deal with Bella Tan (dec.) of WEA-Universal to issue all three albums so far and orchestrated our launch onto the commercial music stage.

Version 1
Produced by Bagong Lumad Artists Foundation, Inc. (BL), 1991, with assistance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Published by BL.

Version 2
Revised for release by WEA Records, 1991, Manila.
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