The Master Spinner said this issue’s theme is summer, which is fine, except that the CD I’d like to review has nothing to do with summer. In the meantime, while thinking of some contrived connection with summer, in the spirit of insistence, I’ll start writing about the greatest CD I’ve ever owned, and it’s not by any Rolling Stone or Billboard artist, so hang me now, DJ.
I first heard of this band in an NU107 Pocket Concert coverage on unTV when unTV was still cool and did not have Bible verses as chargens. I was in the kitchen and I heard a familiar voice singing Hello / di na kita naiintindihan and I was completely convinced that it was Ely Buendia, or whatever name he was using that time. I rushed to our sala and did not see any Ely or Jesus. Instead, I saw an unknown band that the chargen later said as “Sugarfree” and the song was “Telepono”, and the rest, as I say, is personal purchasing history.
“Telepono” became my anthem, much like any Eraserheads song was for any UP student whose student number begins with 97- and below, or, to be more age-sensitive, any bitter long-haired youth at that time. I was in college, heartbroken as I remember, and there was Ebe Dancel singing malabo / na ba ang linya sa ating dalawa, as if he sneaked on my cellphone’s Inbox and Sent Items last night. For a while, I was getting restless listening to the first recorded version of “Telepono” (it has a ringing phone in the intro, right before Natatandan mo ba / kagabi, and inabutan na tayo / ng umaga no’n’s last note was less, for lack of a better non-musical-person-term, wavy) on my old CD player via a CD I burned myself. I was fine with that, though of course, as with any six-peso CD-R King disc, it was sure to skip once in a while, especially if I played it every day on my UP Katipunan-Ligaya-San Joaquin route home for a more dramatic jeep ride. I could almost hear my CD screaming for a new mp3 player, but there’s a cheaper, better alternative of course, and it took Sugarfree (actually, their label) two years to finally release it. And when that time came, my home-made CD and the new CD said the same thing: Sa Wakas.
Sa Wakas was the first original CD I bought using my own money from my editing pre-school ballet recitals raket. (My Mariah Carey’s Rainbow is pirated; my Parokya ni Edgars were bought using my allowance, ergo my parents’ money; and my Cutterpillow, may it rest in peace, is a cassette tape.) And what do you do with your first original CD? You play it. You play it until it skips.
And when I played the first track “Burnout”, I know it won’t be long till it would suffer the same fate as the home-made CD. Dang it, Ebe got me at O kay tagal din kitang / mamahalin. Then came “Hintay” (Mabilis ang ikot ng mundo / sa kakasabay / nahihilo ako), then “Fade Away” (We can’t be young forever/ but that’s what old men say), then the familiar “Mariposa” (it was already being played on NU back then), then the more “arranged” “Telepono” (though I still dig the raw, original version better). When I reached the final track “The Allan Song”, I realize I played the CD’s 12 tracks without ever pressing the Next or Fast Forward button, which is surprising from somebody who judges a song by the first two lines of the first stanza.
Since then, I listened to Sa Wakas every day, while walking from Palma Hall to Math Building, at the back of the classroom while waiting for the professor to arrive, and while on my UP Katipunan-Ligaya-San Joaquin long ride home, until it skipped. Up to now, when I hear “Telepono” on the radio, which is very rare, I pause and smile and thank the moms of those ungraceful preschoolers for enrolling their kids in that ballet class. Otherwise I wouldn’t have the greatest CD I’ve ever owned.
Or maybe I would, but only the CD-R King, home-made kind, which is okay actually, but then the DJ probably wouldn’t allow me to review that.
Unless maybe if I burned it during summer.
Originally published on Hang The DJ webiste, April 13, 2010. Edited by Richard Bolisay.