By: Glo Abaeo Tuazon
Some great ideas often stem from simple banterings or lazy talks over nothing at all. One absurd idea after another, suddenly taken seriously and materialized anyhow. Pe’tune was formed that way. One humid day in Bontoc started sparks of talks on un-appreciated and untapped talents among the locals, how some can sing and handle instruments and never have avenues to bring out the fires of passion. Cousins Leopold Dalog and Christopher Donaal heating up the discussion amidst equally fervent tossing and swigging of liquid spirits. The main idea is to fuse together the music of the North (Cordilleras) using traditional instruments with the modern twang of contemporary music. It was absurd, to think it may actually include a battalion of talents to compose the kind of group. Yet one day in March of 2006, they were able to put it together and a group was borne out of those essences.
The collation of talents and ideas was not easy. Frustrations denting up the perks once in awhile, and unprecedented events mottling the already hot bodies meddling to make things more complicated than needed. But “push” was the word, and the group shoved. In the frying heat of Bontoc, in the middle of summer the brew of talents came together and agreed to call themselves Pe’tune (pronounced as pe-chen). In the native dialect, pechen means “peacepact”. The history of the Cordillera has always had peace problems attributed to it, especially on tribal wars. The band wanted to let go of those issues, to delete it forever and forge a group symbolic of the coming together of the tribes. That and the integration of culture would make it uniquely igorot. To make it musically inclined the word pechen was respelled Pe’tune. Ironically and coincidental also is the fact that the members represented parts of the different social groups. There is a farmer, a government employee, students, out of school youths, professionals, delinquents, parents..all bound by music.
. Like all talent groups, recruitment is one of the most difficult phase. Because from among the good, the best had to be siphoned and chosen. Arranz Changat got good recommendations, for back up vocals and rhythm guitars. Janus Ananayo without question, known for his picks and licks on lead guitars was simply taken in without much thought. The church choir was scoured and came out with Jovy Kimakim on vocals, a surprisingly strong voice caged in a tiny body. Jovy was joined by Maribel, two powerful female voices fusing the words with the instruments. The Saint Vincent High School Performance Group was tapped to do the back up percussions, the flutes and other traditional instruments. Other talents were added along as needed and as they came along exhibiting new ideas.
FIRST SONG ON THE FIRST MEETING. So came the time when the collaborating cousins had to call on the recruits and do an eyeball. Leopold Dalog will be producing for the band it was agreed and that started the ball rolling. The very first song done in Filipino by Chris Donaal was an encapsulation of the stories of life in the North. To give it the “feel”, it was translated in Bontoc Kankanaey by Freda Changat to finally come out and be called “KANTAN SI FIAG” meaning “song of life”. The music was conceptualized by Janus Ananayo based on the rhythm of the kankanaey takik. That gave the 19-member band the push to do more. Some old songs were adapted and remade (with permissions) and 6 more originals were written, making sure it embraces the different emotions of the various Cordillera tribes.
DOING THE LANG-AY FESTIVAL STINT AND AN ALBUM. What started in early March was a blessing. April is the month of the Lang-ay Festival of the Mt. Province. That gave the band their first exposure and performed they did as part of the 3 day festival activities. Not wanting to waste the efforts and the eagerness of the recent success, the core members planned to make an album out of the materials. But this plan now threatens to pose numerous problems. Recording would entail time from the artists, and the students can not possibly take time off from school to participate. With much deliberation, the core had to let go of the students and incorporate the existing DALUYON Band of Chris based in Baguio City. The loss of the traditional instruments was filled up with the coming in of Alex Tumapang who can play most of the flutes and other indigenous instruments. DALUYON composed of Chris Donaal on vocals, percussion and sometimes rhythm guitar, Ray “Jun” Baguilat Jr. and Frederick Kiat-ong on lead also entered with the leave of Janus Ananayo who flew to America, William Calatan on drums, and Isko Miranda on bass completed the needed ensemble. The band is ready to record.
The self titled PE’TUNE album was launched both in Bontoc and Baguio City and made waves locally. The band were heard every now and then, thru concerts and invitational performances. They do a regular one night concert every Lang-ay Festival in Bontoc, as one of their songs became the unofficial festival hymn. To date they were part of the big FILSCAP Concert at Burnham Park and recently been invited to represent the North at the MDG Stand Up Against Poverty Move in Glorietta 4 Makati. The biggest consolation though is the satisfaction of hearing other bands do renditions of their original songs and their remakes. ABS-CBN’s Naimbag a Morning featured them so did one of their songs used by Jessica Soho of GMA 7.
In the course of events and span of time since Pe’tune was created there were temptations thrown in time and again. To go mainstream which also means going fully commercial and make money out of it. To lug out of their ideal concept and do “what sells to the crowd”. Then again that would put them in the line up of short-lived bands who were fads for a while and burned out easily. There were also a few “purists” who criticized them for mixing the traditional and the modern. More though, even the elders commended them for bringing out the talents of the tribes.
Then again a second album is never far from their thoughts, maybe in the near future. There is so much about the Cordillera they could talk about, issues there, people there, culture there, and memories there. The band also has one very palatable invitation possibility, a tour to sing for the Cordillera communities in UK and Europe, but it would not be easy. To dream that is free so they take it lightly, it adds a certain spice to the already colorful story of the band called Pe’tune.