“Kung papatulan mo’y lalo ka lang aasarin.”

“Nosi Ba Lasi” by Sampaguita | All right, here’s a gear change. Yesterday we sort of talked about the jukebox era of the 1970s; today we touch on the other movement that paralleled it: the rise of Pinoy rock. Well, we have also touched on this before: a politically potent time, coupled with the popularity of rock music in the United States, meant the styles would cross over here eventually, and in different forms too. Sampaguita – real name Tessy Alfonso – rose to become the leading female on that front, rising steadily after her debut in 1977, and releasing a bunch of hits that we still sing today – this one, “Tao” and “Bonggahan”, among others. I’d posit what makes her unique is that husky baritone, and – regardless of vibe – the folksy feeling you get from her songs, perhaps a reflection of her being from Laguna, from a time when it was really provincial rather than the industrial hotbed that it (mostly) is today. (And if you want to remember the old times, there’s this.) Sampaguita suddenly retired in 1994, citing the toll the rock and roll lifestyle has taken on her, so her name’s a little bit lost in today’s crowd – but the potency remains. [NB]

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