Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Tribute to Yoyoy Villame (1938-2007)

My late father once told me that only a genius could write a song like Buchikik. I asked my father why, and he told me that even the Chinese and Germans couldn’t understand that song and yet many Pinoys loved it. In fact, it ruled the AM wavelength for a long, long time. My father said that when I was still in grade school. The days when our alarm clock was the Barangay San Juan Elementary School Unit 1 playing Yoyoy’s “Mag exercise Tayo Tuwing Umaga.”

Yoyoy was considered as the king of Filipino novelty songs, and I think that title does injustice to the genius of the man. It seems to imply that humor is a sort of a novelty, something that is cheap, not fit for the mainstream, an alternative, something that should not be taken seriously. I love humor. The fact is humor is the most difficult genre of any art to do whether it is in writing, painting, cartooning, sculpture, singing etc.

Yoyoy’s music, though humorous, is surprisingly wide in its field of exploration. I learn most of my Philippine history and geography from the song “Philippine geography”, one of his earliest hits. Who says that history and geography is boring? Why not try Yoyoy’s approach. How about weaponry? Why, Yoyoy’s “Granada” enumerates all the arsenal the Philippine army has from rifles to granada to bayoneta to bomba, a good mnemonic tool for ROTC cadets. Language? Yoyoy’s tongue twister "Si Filemon" when sang using all the vowels of the alphabet will cure any lisping as well as Demosthenes method of chewing stones while orating at the sea. I mean, Yoyoy was a genius. How about fables in music? Why, his “Hayop na Kumbo” is an Orwellian piece of literature by itself. If that’s is not convincing enough to show how talented the man was, in experimental psychology, literature and linguistics Yoyoy’s “Buchikik” is a dissertation material in itself. What was he saying? What kind of metaphysical thoughts did he want to express that he had to invent a language of his own? What kind of linguistic structural method did he use? To think that that song was inspired by the native pounded rice delicacy called buchi. I gotta to hand it to him.

It is time that we recognize his contribution to Philippine music. I hope congress will enact law recognizing Yoyoy as a national artist for music. I’m serious. Consider his influence among local bands. ERaserheads, Yano, Itchyworms, Parokya ni Edgar etc. they may or may not admit it but one can hear a Yoyoy in there. He was well respected; he was well known. His musicality was beyond question.

Consider our crop of national artist in music and I would say that some of them had their claim to that title through musical elitism. And unless one wants to write dissertations about Philippine music, then will their names only crop up. In the daily life of the Filipinos what are these national artists? Game show trivia is what they are—abstracts. Yoyoy deserves to be there as a true Filipino musician who made us laugh. Sometimes that’s all that matters—laughter. Think, just think of how many people Yoyoy made happy and then compare this achievement with our national artists achievements--avant gardes, cultural, innovations, nationalism, what atre they but words.
Is Yoyoy’s music a novelty? It’s an injustice to the genius of the man. As far as I’m concerned the man’s music is profound and wide. But the most important thing is, despite his image as a na├»ve probinsyano Yoyoy’s philosophy in music and life is so simple and yet so powerful—laughter. I love the man, and now he’s dead.
The man was also an outstanding Christian.

Read CBN's article about yoyoy click here


Anonymous said...

May you rest in peace Yoyoy...You will always be in our heart. Thank you for your music

jinggaddi said...

dude, i really loved your piece on yoyoy. like so many a music lover, i myself am an avowed yoyoy fan. i even wrote an article on him when i was writing for the philippine collegian back in my college days. that same article was likewise published in the 2005 philippines yearbook where the theme was culture and the arts. here's a link to my tribute entry in my multiply account:

todo-sangayon ako sa points mo on the novelty artist trivialization at national artist award. i mean, among all those given the award, i don't think any one of them can embody the title "national artist" better than yoyoy. he is a national artist in the truest sense of the term.

btw, i stumbled upon your blog because i was googling for yoyoy and i was listening to him today while i driving. di ko maiwasang maluha pag napapakinggan ko mga awit niya. naiiyak ako sa sobrang tuwa at paghanga sa isang henyo ng ating henerasyon.

peace & happy new year! :D

Anonymous said...

hi. i have a school work about yoyoy villame. is it ok to put contents of your blog "a tribute...." as reference... ill put your name and school or work
jen alfon-adano

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Anonymous said...

I don't like novelty songs because they are branded as cheap and shallow...but everytime I hear Yoyoy's music,they bring smile to my face and simply refreshes me...I don't know why