Barrios, HARINAWA, Tao Music, 2001
By Grace Nono
"Harinawa" means "if only" or "I wish .
first heard Bayang Barrios sing one rainy morning in our parish
church in Barangay San Teodoro, Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. This was
fifteen years ago. She sang a radio hit (in church!) and I remembered
her voice as textured, rounded, and carrying a lot of feeling. "A
natural," I told myself. Little did I know that five years
later, our paths would again cross in Manila's Philippine alternative
music scene, where she sang in Joey Ayala's Bagong Lumad, while
I was a fledgling solo music artist. Now after another decade of
trials and triumphs shaping our spirits and womanhood, we once again
meet in Tao Music, the independent record label that I co-founded
with my co-producer and husband Bob Aves, and where we have welcomed
Bayang as one of the artists whose works represent the search for
the Filipino's living voice, a voice that reflects the present while
asserting a sense of cultural rootedness. The recent launch of Bayang's
second album "Harinawa" (Tao Music, 2001) produced by
Sammy Asuncion, Bob Aves, Bayang Barrios, and Billy Bonnevie at
the 70s Bistro, testifies to the woman artist's triumph over life's
hurdles, and to the power of collaboration. Let us hear from the
creative team that helped shape "Harinawa," and from Bayang
When I first approached Bayang about producing her new album, I
told her, "Bayang, sana iba na." Bob (Aves ) and I thought
of introducing pop coupled with world music elements to Bayang's
sound. She responded to our suggestions very well and gave us her
full trust in conceptualizing the direction of the music. She had
four songs, Mike (Villegas) contributed one, and I wrote seven.
Bob arranged them all, while taking into consideration my inputs.
For instance, Bayang's folkish song when rearranged, was given a
wholly different treatment. I am very happy with the result. It
is pop music, but in our own terms. Even my friends who don't like
pop music have told me that they like the album. This is the result
of what Bob and I talked about earlier, of artists collaborating
with each other to come up with better music. Wala nang kanya-kanya.
We knew where Bayang was coming from, from the folk, ethnic-pop
approach that was associated with Joey Ayala. Although she maintained
this style to a certain degree in this album, we also had to create
a new Bayang image which she herself wanted, one that is more rock
and blues oriented. Bayang has great talent and has had enough experience
as a singer to try this new approach.
Mas buo ang boses ko ngayon, sa pagbigkas at sa pag-interpret. At
mas matured ang mga musikero ngayon. 'Yung first album ko kasi ("Bayang
Makulay," Universal Records), first time ni Mike (Villegas)
mag-produce, at first time ko ring mag-compose ng kanta. Hugot ng
hugot ng mga experiences from Joey (Ayala), at sa ibang bandang
kakilala. Ngayon, mas focused ang music. At dahil independent at
sariling kayod, mas mahirap nga pero enjoy dahil wala kang ibang
sisisihin kung palpak kundi ang sarili mo. At pag positive naman
ang resulta, masarap, dahil nagawa mo at kaya mo palang gawin! Sa
"Bayang Makulay" although mula sa simula ay may recording
company, producer, at ibinibigay lahat ng kailangan ko sa pasahe,
pagkain, kailangan ng musikero, antay naman ako ng antay kung kailan
nila ito ilalabas. Tapos, na-frustrate ako noong walang nangyari.
Sa album na ito, hindi ako naghintay. Dere-deretso kami. Ako na
rin mismo ang nagpo-promote kaya sa proseso ay natututo kung ano
ang gagawin. Masaya, kasi kontrolado ko.
As a musician, mas makulit si Bayang ngayon. She has a sound she's
after. She's a journeywoman, having traveled to Europe and the US,
between the first and second albums.
difference between Bayang's first and second albums is that the
first was approached from a song-writer's point of view which meant
raw guitar and a percussion-heavy style. The second however veers
away from the acoustic-folk formula, dabbling in a lot of real rock,
heavy synthesis, and more progressive arrangements. The second was
approached from an arranger's point of view.
Bayang is an artist still trying to get out of her cocoon. She's
faced with the challenge presented by popular music, as well as
that of keeping to her roots. She's caught in between.
like "Harinawa" because of its socially-relevant songs
like "Inang Bayan," "Guro," "Kapayapaan".
All songs are actually radio-friendly but unfortunately, the big
recording companies did not see their potential; maybe because they
might compete with their other releases?
We had no choice but to go independent - which is not that bad because
you get the direct sales for your albums. In the end, it looks like
you can even earn more.
Pioneering world music in the Philippines is not easy but we believe
it is a worthwhile thing to do. Tao Music is the one defining world
music here, in a way where Filipinos can contribute their own talents
thing we have realized in this project is that when there is a collaboration
between different artists, composers, arrangers, sound engineers,
producers, it is possible to come-up with a product that is truly
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