Apo Hiking Society: Four decades in the performing arts

Apo Hiking Society: Four decades in the performing arts 
By Walter Ang
September 15, 2008
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Apo Hiking Society, one of the country's leading music icons, will kick-off a year-long celebration marking their 40th year in the music scene with a pre-anniversary concert titled "Apo of the Philippines" on September 20, 8:00 PM, at the Araneta Coliseum.

The concert will celebrate 39 years of lasting friendship among Danny Javier, Boboy Garrovillo, and Jim Paredes as well as the music that they have shared with Filipinos since their group's inception when they were still in college (which was then known as the Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society).

Paredes is now known more to younger audiences as one of the mentors to a group of singer-hopefuls in the premiere season of reality TV show "Pinoy Dream Academy." Older audiences who grew up with the group will recall that it also hosted several television shows including their own noontime Sunday show "Sa Linggo nAPO Sila" which turned into the daily noontime show "`Sang Linggo nAPO Sila."

Musical journey
Their upcoming concert is not at all a reunion concert or a comeback concert. After all, over the years, the Apo Hiking Society has recorded 26 albums and performed in thousands of live concerts in the Philippines and over 50 cities across the world including the United States, Canada, Singapore, Indonesia, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Japan.

"We actually do an average of 30 shows every year," says Paredes. Despite having immigrated to Australia a few years ago, he still schedules return trips to the Philippines when a certain number of bookings are lined up.

"Apo of the Philippines" is slated to be a musical journey of the group's unforgettable songs such as Pumapatak ang Ulan, Awit ng Barkada, Nakapagtataka, Ewan, Batang-Bata Ka Pa, When I Met You, Anna, Blue Jeans, Panalangin, Bawat Bata, and Saan Na Nga Ba'ng Barkada, among many others.

"I think we have around 60 recognizable songs. Of course, not all of them are popular, but when people hear some of our `less popular' songs, they are still able to identify us as the singers," says Paredes. "Somehow, our songs have a life of their own."

Tribute albums
So much so that two tribute albums have been produced: "Kami nAPO Muna" in 2006 (considered the biggest selling album in the country that year with more than 125,000 copies sold in less than 6 months) and "Kami nAPO Muna Ulit" just last year.

"It is a new world out there!" says Paredes. "Kids connect to our music, maybe not in the way I pictured, but nonetheless, they are connecting. It goes to show that if you stay around long enough, you get hip all over again."

The group has always been able to keep up with new technologies and trends. In 1987, they were one of the first Filipino groups to be recorded on CDs. Paredes, meanwhile, has joined the blogosphere with his online musings at http://haringliwanag.pansitan.net

"Admittedly, I don't think we individually have great voices, but when we sing together, it's like we're three Clark Kents becoming one Superman," says Paredes. While the group has performed before in the Araneta Coliseum, they've actually only been guest acts. This time audiences will finally get to see them headline their own concert and are sure to be treated to the group's signature stage presence, unique banter, wit, and humor.

Paredes attributes the group's success to three reasons: "We enjoy what we're doing. We believe we're doing something greater than us." He then concludes, with a wink, "And we don't have sex with each other. Sex just complicates things."

For details, visit www.apohikingsociety.org or call 426-0103 or 426-5301. Tickets available from Ticketnet at 911-5555.

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