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Swinging the kundiman

Leah C. Salterio (The Philippine Star) - October 3, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – We may have heard popular Tagalog folk music rendered in their traditional tunes countless times. But kundiman songs given rock flavor is certainly a new twist for the listener’s auditory pleasure.

Swinging the Kundiman is a CD-album of folk music rendered in rock fashion. Singer-musician Ramon “RJ” Jacinto lined up 14 carefully-selected tracks that are predominantly familiar to most local listeners and undoubtedly integral to their lives, in one way or another.

Songs previously rendered by only the likes of Pilita Corrales, Nora Aunor or even Freddie Aguilar are now recorded anew and interestingly given rock n’ roll touch by RJ.'

The CD-album of folk music is rendered in rock fashion

Selections are carried out in instrumental rock n’ roll, played in both acoustic and electric guitars without taking away the dramatic rhythm of the kundiman. The brilliant fusion of kundiman and swing makes the songs so alive and new again, definitely a pleasure to listen to.

Opening track is Ikaw, a hauntingly sentimental ballad originally recorded by Ric Manrique Jr. RJ and his musicians gave a swing beat to the song that will inevitably make you sway, if not rock.

The intro of Ang Tangi Kong Pag-ibig immediately soars with the song’s upbeat tempo. Dahil Sa ‘Yo was beautifully played with plucking guitar chords. O, Ilaw, the popular Ruben Tagalog serenade, started with the ballad’s romantic ending. The re-working of the arrangement of these ballads gives the album added musical appeal.

Notably, not only Tagalog music made it to the selections. Songs like the popular Kapampangan ditty, Atin Cu Pung Singsing given a happy vibe, the Visayan love paean, Matud Nila and the distinctly romantic Ilocano serenade, Pamulinawen, are notably included in the selections.

Music to the popular folk dances are likewise included in the line-up like the folk dance from Surigao, Itik Itik in true-blue rock n’ roll rhythm and the traditional national dance, Tinikling. A song from the 1920’s Bodabil era, Sitsiritsit, made it to the line-up.

Then, there’s Leron, Leron Sinta, the folk song about sweethearts who enjoy picking papaya fruits; Magtanim ay ‘Di Biro, the song that farmers render during the season of planting rice; and everybody’s folk anthem, Bahay Kubo, distinctly played with RJ’s rocking guitar.

RJ’s original ‘80s ballad, Muli, rendered in its instrumental version, was a fitting closing track for the CD.

“Before the young forget the roots of true Filipino music, let me show them through this CD album how Philippine folk and love songs can sound as exciting as the music of today,” RJ wrote in the inner CD cover.

True enough, through Swinging the Kundiman, RJ makes today’s youth appreciate the essential songs of yesteryear they may not even be familiar with. Although all the songs were old, they were given different arrangement. Hence, they’re “new” to everyone — young and old alike — who hears the songs again.

Swinging the Kundiman was released last year, but RJ continues to promote the album in his RJ Sunday Jam. The selections remain some of the requested tunes in his live show, so viewers see the music videos being aired regularly.

The album can be ordered online or through the phone numbers being flashed on the screen in RJ Sunday Jam, which airs live every week on RJTV 29. RJ personally signs every copy and it will be delivered right to your doorstep.

Swinging the Kundiman aside, RJ has a long list of studio albums and even Christmas albums to his name. Last July, he was appointed presidential adviser on Economic Affairs and Information Technology Communications.

RJ can also be seen performing live on Friday nights at RJ Bistro at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City. RJ Bistro recently marked its 30th anniversary.

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