"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

Florante, Toler in a night of music and comedy

I intended the question to be jocular, a light-hearted poke at the obvious age difference between the two performers. Perhaps I wasn't articulate enough to be well understood and Florante, quick to retort, let out a hint of condescension.

Folk song king Florante and Malou

Malou has a purpose in the show, he assured, or something to that effect. But of course, otherwise she would not be on posters announcing the March 7 concert "Noon at Ngayon" (The Past and the Present). However, knowing Florante for the kindly, good-natured stage denizen that he is, I'm certain there was nothing to the comment beyond inadvertence.

Truly, Malou "Troubadour" Toler is a delight to watch perform such that relegating her to a feature assignment is an understatement of sorts. I first watched her way back in one of her gigs at Green Turtle in Whittier (please see an account at http://cdbaby.com/cd/malou) and since then she had an impressive list of public appearances and had released a cd of fav songs. A time out for any of her performances would be well worth the buck.

Florante de Leon spells big league. Unaffected by success, the Philippines's foremost folk singer remains as down-to-earth as he was during the mid-70s when he and other legendary singers brought forth a genre of songs that became known as Manila sound.

With over 40 popular songs ranging from the basics of "A-B-C", the nationalism and family well-being themes of "Ako'y Pinoy" (I am a Filipino) and "Gintong Aral" (Golden Rule) to double-entendres like "Bugtong-bugtong" (Riddles), the guy with that familiar guitar has indeed established himself as an icon of sort in the Philippine music scene. Some of his songs, jokes and one-liners are on the borderline; others are somewhat in the category of intellectual high plane requiring a little bit of effort to discern.

Most of his works, however, showcase his facility to express in a homey yet entertaining kind of way the depth of the commonplace. For example, there are songs describing the otherwise humdrum of eking a living and the boredom of a jeepney ride; the sedate, noonday scene in the field, the everyday family, the love of life and the life of love of those we know back then. The mundane and the ordinary become an exciting experience, a thing of beauty when entwined in the witty humor and rhythm as only Florante can.

"Ako'y Pinoy" awakens a deep longing for the homeland, triggering a sense of nationality mostly overtaken by piles of daily concerns; "Bugtong-bugtong" is not all about the mind games we played as children; "Upuan" (Chair) speaks of the throne and the reflections of a man (Dictator Marcos) about to lose a grip on power; and "Handog" (a gift or an offering), an expression of gratitude and humility from someone at the apex of fame.

During a recent press event promoting the coming concert at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach, California, Evelyn Enriquez, executive director of Global Link Media, promised a superb show never been seen before. See you there!



CAPTION: Folk song king Florante and Malou "Troubadour" Toler are flanked by Linda Granda, left, and Evelyn Enriquez of Global Link Media during a press event promoting "Noon at Ngayon"

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Dionesio C. Grava - Part-time community journalist based in Los Angeles and editorial writer at Forum Asia.






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