By Jose B. Perez, Editor
First of Two parts
WHAT did lovely partners Jesse Robredo and Leni, Tito Salvosa and Myrna (nee Parma), Dennis Caramoan and Vina (nee Chavez), Tony Blando and Lally (nee Requejo), and, ehem, Maria Bella Deocareza and this writer have in common before they ended up tying the knot to become happy married couples?
Well, they all looked lovey-dovey with nothing else to care about every time they were on a date at the city’s favorite watering hole where the magical music of the New Soundwaves Showband would make them promise to love each other forever ahead of their church wedding vow.
The other couples, even when they were already married, would also come as enchanted customers, such as entrepreneur Ower Andal and wife Melinda, businesswoman Lilibeth and her late farmer-husband Culacho Guysayko, and the countless others who live happily ever after. Surely, these couples will be coming out again on a date to relish those beautiful memories they shared because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, even if their favorite dating restaurant had long closed its doors.
Naga’s entertainment scene
Naga’s nightspot habitués, especially the romantic ones and those who appreciate good entertainment, in the tradition of Manila’s standards by local talented performers, would come to Lindez Deckhouse of the then famous Lindez Hotel – downtown Naga’s finest restaurant and hotel in the 80s though the 90s -- for a generous recipe of jazz numbers and the classy beats of the Manhattan Transfer in such hits as “The Boy from New York City,” “Spice in the Night” and “Tuxedo Junction”; from the disco rhythm of “Man Eater”, “Flashdance”, to the soothing blend of voices in “Red Rose for a Blue Lady”, to “Moonlight Serenade.”
Fast forward, or 35 years after, they will come live once more for a pre-Valentine Dinner Show and Reunion Concert at The Tent, Avenue Plaza Hotel here in Naga City on Sunday evening, February 12, 2017. With a happy load of memories and tales of their adventures overseas, the band will once again bring together the city’s old romantics, lovers, and music habitues for a bottomless repertoire of all-time favorites, classical pieces in a capella, RNB of the 70s, jazz rhythm and other hits of the 80s, including blockbuster songs by Abba, The Carpenters, and Madonna!
It was a long wonderful journey since the band first evolved from the UNC Choral Cluster, a campus singing group under the baton of Mrs. Amelita P. Zaenz, who is lovingly referred to as Bicol’s musical diva. It soon became a four-member singing group called the Ask Family with guitar accompaniment. It morphed as the Family Connection with an electronic organ replacing the guitar. After a while it was renamed Soundwaves, and finally, the New Soundwaves Showband, with more members. The group’s first 9 members were composed of: five vocalists in the persons of Andy Belmonte, Cherry David, Ningning David-Belmonte, Val David, and Beth Guevarra; part-time deejay Rakki Delis who did the drums; Ranny Sugcang, bass; Babes Brocka, lead guitar; and Vic de Villa on the keyboard.
Ningning, in a newspaper interview, said there was a time when the group felt the need to disband to pursue their own personal goals and careers. But they would soon get bored with life offstage that they started calling each other up and getting their music together again.
By December 1983 the group hit the stage anew with no less than the owner and operator of Lindez Deckhouse, Otom Hernandez, taking over as their manager. Otom proved to be an excellent handler of young men/women with talents as customers to his restaurant came not only for fine food but also for beer, wine and song. The re-grouped singing band undoubtedly captured the bubbly and yet discriminating taste of the city’s business class, as well as the white-collar types, both from inside and outside Naga City. It was said that as the New Soundwaves started singing, the customers quickly get enthralled, leaving the ice thawing in their drinks.
Indeed, many, especially talent scouts and visiting managers from top companies in Manila who passed by Naga and dropped by Lindez Deckhouse, took notice of the group’s vast talent. No less than Celebrity Writer Crispina Martinez-Belen in her column at Manila Bulletin on Oct. 1, 1986 wrote, “Music lovers who happen to pass the night in Naga City could hear the fine music that soothes the tired body and soul in the Lindez Deckhouse of the Hotel Lindez and Restaurant. Alternating for the night are two bands, the Soundwaves and Final Edition.”
It was not a long while that Naga habitues had to miss them as they toured various nightspots in Olangapo City, including a jampacked show inside the US Subic Naval Base and in Legazpi City’s Casablanca Hotel and La Trinidad Hotel.
Immediately after a year, the New Soundwaves signed up contracts with famous entertainment houses overseas, such the Captain’s Cabin in Kuala Lumpur, and the posh Tanjung Aru Beah Hotel in Kota Kinabalo where one of their dinner shows was sponsored by Malaysian Air System.
They soon found themselves performing under the kaleidoscopic lights of China City Night Club in Kowloon, Hongkong, and the Kennedy House in Kumamoto, Japan.
The New Straits Times of Malaysia took note in its March 28, 1991 issue of the Soundwaves’ impressive talent via an article entitled “Filipino versatility is their middle name.” It made mention that the 8-piece band is a popular pop band from Bicol, in Southern Luzon, Philippines. “If you are the type that tunes in to Casey Kasem’s America’s Top 10, “Soundwaves” will not let you down. They play the latest releases by Bobby Brown and Taylor Dayne,” the Malaysian newspaper wrote.
Interestingly, or rather, unfortunately, their stint in Malaysia under a three-month contract was to be their last overseas, as well as here at home in Bicol, as the group, feeling tired and hoping to make up for their personal responsibilities finally decided to disband, after 8 years and more of loving and soothing us with their music. For a while, darkness and silence fell over Naga’s otherwise lovely night entertainment scene.
More on next issue.