The song Dapithapon (2010) is a buddy who’d drink heartaches away with me at Sarah’s in Diliman. When I first heard the song – just Johnoy Danao’s voice and his acoustic guitar – I decided to get hold of the artist’s album of the same title. Six copies, to be exact. Back then, Johnoy himself would meet you to deliver the CDs. He delivered and signed my copies at a friend’s kitchen somewhere in Teachers’ Village.
I’d put the song on repeat, its lyrics seeping through my heart’s cracks, the way the grilled chicken intestines (OK, isaw manok) and beer filled my stomach. It was the song for a sadness both raw and slow: “Ang pag-ibig nga naman, kapag hindi na maramdaman, hindi kayang pagtakpan ng sumpaan.” It was a friend who would ride the Ikot jeep with you to Krus na Ligas, who would divert her photocopy allowance to beer fund, so you’d feel better.
The first album has twelve original tracks, half of which were written by Johnoy. My other favorites are Tara Na, Bayan, written by Sammy Asuncion and Isang Iglap, a song about dreams ruined by calamity. Remember that this was released in 2010, we were still reeling from Typhoon Ondoy. Johnoy’s voice, with the riffs, percussion and backing vocals, take you back. Remember, with lyrics like “Nadungaw ko si Tatay, nagtatanim ng palay / Umaasang ang butil ng pawis niya’y maging bigas / Ito namang si Nanay, nag-aayos ng bahay / Ilang taong pinag-ipunan nang kami’y masilungan.”
I admire Johnoy for the acoustic songs he performed alone. His covers made me watch Good Times With Mo (GTWM) on YouTube even though Mo Twister is such a pain to listen to sometimes. But it’s always interesting to hear Johnoy collaborate with other musicians.
GTWM may have helped him go mainstream. His second album, Samu’t Sari, was released under Universal Records in 2014. I bought one copy in a shopping mall.
Samu’t Sari is a mixture of remakes of familiar numbers, two tracks from the first album, and new songs. I’m not comfortable listening to his cover of Imago’s Sundo, but I forgive Johnoy and the band for trying out Beer and lacing it up with saxophone. Try listening to it while stuck in EDSA traffic after work, when you’re too weary to sing along to the more upbeat original by Itchyworms.
The second album has the hopeful Buntong-Hininga as opening track. This is Johnoy inviting us to fall in love again, almost four years after Dapithapon.
“Sa aking palagay, tayo’y nagsasayang / Ng araw at gabing sa’tin dapat” – I, too, would need a band complete with ukelele and harmonica if I’m going to express this. The song Ikaw at Ako from the first CD is included as a bonus track. If sometime between 2010 and 2014, you already met someone who can help you relate to the lyrics, it’s a bonus, indeed.
The song Dapithapon comes back in the album, Johnoy plays it with the band this time. The Dapithapon of 2014 is the same drinking buddy who has been working in Makati City for years now and like me, uuwi nang walang nag-aabang. This friend might still find me heartbroken, for reasons different from those of 2010. We hold our glasses of whisky and pretend we don’t miss Sarah’s.
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It’s February, month of freebies. I’m giving away a signed copy of Dapithapon.
This is so easy. Just be the first single person to share this post publicly on your Facebook account, then tag me in the comment. You will be required to present proof of singlehood (i.e. lack of romantic/love relationship) before I send you the prize.