Bayani the singer
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - May 22, 2004 - 12:00am
It was a big joke that turned out to be a big hit.

The novelty song Otso-Otso, I mean.

"When we recorded Otso-Otso," recalled Bayani Agbayani, the voice behind what is now a "national anthem" of Filipinos not only here but abroad (thanks to The Filipino Channel), "we kidded around the recording studio. I was kidding Lito (Camo, the composer), ‘Are you serious about this? You have enough time to back out.’ Parang everything was joke, joke, joke!"

As we all know, the "big joke" was on Bayani who found himself a recording star the morning after the release (by Star Records) of Otso-Otso, a song that had been there all along, sung by kids as they danced at play.

"The idea of recording that song came from me," added Bayani who used to sing the same song as a kid. "I told Lito, ‘Why not Otso-Otso?’ So Lito wrote the lyrics and I recorded it in barely one hour."

So far, the song has sold more than 100,000 copies, making it a Triple Platinum, spinning off a comedy (by Star Cinema), Otso-Otso, Pamela-mela Wan, which topbilled Bayani himself and Vhong Navarro (singer of Pamela).

That was how Bayani was launched as a recording artist – "By force," he laughed. "By accident."

Even if they were horsing around, Bayani confessed that he was nervous during the recording lest his voice might not come out. (Was the "horsing around" a cover-up of his nervousness?)

"But Lito assured me, ‘If you’re nervous, hindi lalabas ang boses mo.’ So I played it cool; parang kumakanta lang ng Otso-Otso sa kalye with my playmates."

Admittedly, Bayani is not a singer in the true sense of the word – "I haven’t even taken any formal voice lesson" –but he’s happy that the public has accepted him as a singer – "Kahit di naman talaga ako marunong kumanta," mouthing the oft-quoted line, "Mahilig akong kumanta pero walang hilig sa akin ang kanta."

Lady Luck was on his side. Bayani rode on the "novelty" bandwagon, pumped to the top of the hit charts by Lito Camo (who also wrote other novelty hits like Pito-Pito by Willie Revillame and the Viva Hot Babes’ Bulaklak, etc.) and company, along with unlikely singers Angelika Jones (Miss Flawless, etc.), Vhong Navarro and Mahal (Aga, Aga, I Love You, etc.).

All for fun, you know.

Last May 17, Bayani’s first solo album, Ako Na’to (with Atras-Abante as carrier single), was released by Alpha Music with which he has a one-year contract (good for three albums). The album carries nine selections (Pag Undressed Na Ako; Alam Kong Di Ako, Ok Lang, etc.), with one remix and also including Otso-Otso which Bayani originally recorded as part of Star Records’ compilation entitled Himig Handog.

At that time, Bayani had already signed a contract with Alpha which very kindly lent him to Star Records (but only for one recording).

Asked why his Alpha debut album (to be formally launched on ASAP Mania tomorrow) was delayed, Bayani said, "We took time choosing the songs. Besides, I had a tight schedule at that time."

He was then co-hosting MTB which left Bayani one of the "casualties" when it underwent a major re-formatting last January.

"But even before the re-formatting," clarified Bayani, "I was already planning to quit the show. I was co-hosting a noontime show for five years, starting with Salu-Salo Together (SST, on GMA 7) and then Sang Linggo nAPO Sila (with The APO) which eventually became Magandang Tanghali Bayan (MTB)."

Being with MTB, according to Bayani, was like going to the office. He would wake up at 6 or 7 a.m. – "May pamahiin ako, which I learned from my mother, na ako ang magbukas ng pinto para pumasok ang suwerte" – play basketball with his friends in the neighborhood (around Fairview in Quezon City) as his morning workout, leave home at 10 so he could be at ABS-CBN by 11, staying on MTB until 2:30 p.m. At 3 p.m., when not taping for the ABS-CBN sitcoms OK Fine Whatever (Mondays) and Yes Yes Show (formerly Klasmeyts, Wednesdays), Bayani would hie off to a nearby gym for more workout (supplemented by multi-vitamins, Vitanims E and C, Squalene, Tievoca and Ampalaya capsules). He doesn’t smoke and drinks only red wine (moderately).

Out of MTB, Bayani’s schedule has become less tight, allowing him to do more shows out-of-town and abroad – and more quality time with his family, wife Len-Len and their three daughters Maria Thalia, 7; Rosalinda Maria, 3; and Mary Mar, 2.

"Before, I would bring my wife and children to the set on weekdays so we could be together. We set aside Sundays as family day. We go swimming, eat out and hear Mass together."

Not many people know that Bayani is a pious man. He’s a Marian, member of the Legion of Mary, with a devotion to the Virgin Mary since he was in high school. Up to now, he says the Catina Legiones (Maria Prayer Novena) during Angelus simultaneously with other Marians around the country.

As a kid, Bayani lived with his family at the Food Terminal, Inc. (FTI) in Taguig, Rizal, and had as schoolmates Michael V and the late Rene Requiestas at the Tenement Elementary School. (Michael V and Rene’s families lived at the Taguig Tenement House).

Being a family man, Bayani said he avoids double-meaning jokes whether on TV or in his songs.

At home, like millions of others here and abroad, Bayani’s kids perk up when they hear the lilting sound of Otso-Otso.

"I sing and dance along with them."

Yes, the family that sings and dances together, stays together.

Babae
gets standing ovation in Cannes

Here’s a piece of good news on the heels of Jasmine Trias’ elimination from American Idol, direct from Funfare’s Toronto-based "international correspondent" Ferdinand Lapuz:

It is Day 10 for the Cannes Film Festival and Babae Sa Breakwater (Woman Of Breakwater) had its international premiere last night (May 19) at the Noga Hilton.

The press screening was held at 11 a.m. at the same venue and it was almost full. At the end of the screening, there was a big applause from the crowd. A press conference followed at around 1:15 though it was scheduled at 2 p.m. But I saw to it that we were all punctual with our appointments so they decided to start early as soon as we arrived.

A very nice couple in Nice, Nestor and Linda Ventenilla, and their daughter Maria Nerissa, offered their two-bedroom apartment to the Babae delegates to be our home during the festival.

Warehouse Entertainment Inc. producers Edgar and Arlene Aguas, actors Katherine Luna and Kristoffer King, only arrived last Monday (May 17) at 9:30 a.m. so that very same day we had to take the train from Nice to Cannes for the accreditation. We had to do this on a daily basis. The festival people were surprised to know that we had to travel to Nice everyday! But they did offer us a ride yesterday because I could not imagine ourselves in our native costumes taking an almost one-hour ride going back to Nice.

The official screening was scheduled at 7:30 p.m. at the Noga Hildon. We got ready at around 6 with Katherine doing her own make-up, helped by Arlene. The moment the festival staff of the Fortnight saw her in a stunning turquoise terno designed by Noli Santiago, they were all awed and breathless. I could say that this sort of made up for the absence of our director, Mario O'Hara, because as one festival staff told me, "you added glamour to the screening." However, direk Mario's absence was very much felt during the presscon earlier because since this is the Directors' Fortnight, the director's presence is much needed for the film. But direk Mario doesn’t have to worry because one director in the Fortnight was not here either according to a festival staff.

Ms. Aguas was wearing a Muslim inspired gown while Edgar, Kristoffer and myself all wore our native Barong Tagalog. The moment Olivier Pere saw us, he came up to me and apologized that his suit is worn out and he felt embarassed because we (Filipino delegates) were all beautiful.

Before the screening, Mr. Pere introduced us one by one and we had to speak briefly. Joining us on stage was Ms. Evelyn Vargas, now based in Fribourg, Switzerland, who served as Publicist for the film during the festival.

After the screening, we were overwhelmed by the loud applause and a standing ovation was given us. We were all teary eyed and when we stood up to acknowledge the reception, the applause became louder. Then Katherine and Kristoffer stood up again to the loudest applause of the night.

Director Laurice Guillen who is here, head of the FDCP and Carlos de Leon, IFFCOM member, were also present during the screening. Laurice commented about the standing ovation, "bibihirang mangyari ’yun dito," during a small cocktail party held at the top floor of Noga Hilton.

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph)

AKO NA ALAM KONG DI AKO ALPHA MUSIC AMERICAN IDOL BAYANI NOGA HILTON ONE OTSO OTSO-OTSO STAR RECORDS
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