by Carmie O. Carpio/AJPress
The Apo Hiking Society is considered as one of the pillars of Original Pilipino Music (OPM), having popularized a great number of outstanding Filipino songs. Composed of the remarkable trio of Danny Javier, Jim Paredes and Boboy Garrovillo, this legendary musical group has etched life, creativity and wit to the Filipino entertainment industry.
Before reaching the summit of their success, The Apo Hiking Society was but a casual meeting of students at the Ateneo de Manila High School (AMHS), the same acronym which inspired the group to come up with the moniker Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society.
Who would have thought that a juvenile and innocent act by a youthful yet prolific group could produce a fecund collection of original Pinoy songs? Awit ng Barkada, Batang-bata Ka Pa, Di Na Natuto, Doo Bidoo, Just a Smile Away, Kabilugan ng Buwan, Mahirap Magmahal ng Syota ng Iba, Panalangin, Pumapatak ang Ulan, When I Met You, and Yakap sa Dilim, have become timeless classics.
Originally a quartet with Lito de Joya as the fourth member, The Apo Hiking Society had its first taste of recognition during a two-night farewell concert held at the Meralco Auditorium (now Meralco Theatre) in July 1973. At that time, Apo was already gaining popularity from college students who were drawn to the group’s humor and musicality.
However, the group was on the verge of disbanding. Jim Paredes wanted to go to Turkey as an exchange student, while Lito de Joya opted to join the corporate world.
The farewell concert, which they had taped, became Apo’s first album a year later. Jim Paredes didn’t push through with his Turkey trip and the trio continued making good music that brought them to new heights in the music industry.
Three decades later, Apo has almost reached the summit of success. Encompassing themes of friendship, young love, heartbreak, romance, and even nationalism—all branded with Apo’s unique approach to music through their brilliant lyrics and catchy melodies—made them win the admiration of thousands.
Within this period, the Apo came up with 22 record albums and countless major solo concerts as well as provincial, dinner, and corporate shows. Their local success extended towards the international scene, paving the way for their performances in over 50 cities in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia. In fact, the Apo is noted as the first Filipino pop group to perform at the Main Hall of New York’s Carnegie Hall. That particular concert in October of 1987, as well as that in the prestigious Massey Hall in Toronto—Canada’s music capital, were both sold out. In that same year, Apo performed at the Shrine in Los Angeles. Then LA Mayor Tom Bradley declared October 10, 1987 as Apo Hiking Society Day.
Apo’s dedication to OPM has brought them a wealth of well-deserved acclaim and achievements, including being one of the first groups to be recorded on compact disc.
In 1994, Apo won the first Dangal ng Musikang Pilipino by Awit Awards – the Filipino equivalent of the Grammy. It was also conferred the Tanglaw Ng Lahi Award, the highest recognition given by Jesuits in the field of culture and arts.
During the height of the People Power Revolution, Jim Paredes composed Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo, which was recorded by 15 Filipino artists in April 1986, as a tribute to the bloodless revolution. Equally famous as the revolution itself, an English version of the song entitled A New and Better Way was launched in Australia. Handog was also released in London during the first anniversary of the People Power. Its lyrics can now be seen on a wall of the Our Lady of Edsa Shrine, the heart of the revolution.
The Apo also hosted several television shows, including their own noontime Sunday show Sa Linggo nAPO Sila.
In 2006, as tribute to and in celebration of the musical influence and achievements of the Apo Hiking Society, various contemporary Filipino artists launched Kami nAPO Muna, a compilation album containing Apo’s hit tracks in a new light and with a modern twist. It was immediately followed by Kami nAPO Muna Ulit.
Currently, Danny, Jim and Boboy are working on their much-awaited comeback concert, dubbed Apo of the Philippines. The concert is set to take place at the Araneta Coliseum on September 20. As early as now, it is already touted to be the greatest concert in OPM history. (www.asianjournal.com)