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The Reunion Concert: A rewind of awesome music

Last of two parts

THEIR band was born in the 80s and spanned an exciting decade that began with Sen. Ninoy Aquino’s death, a non-violent People Power Revolution, and the eventual collapse of Martial Law regime. They sailed through 1991 with flying colors, when they did their last concert at an exclusive bar in Malaysia belting “From a Distance,” the hit single by American pop star Bette Midler then.

And yet some of their repertoire in many other concerts in Manila, Olangapo, Naga, and Legazpi included the protest songs of the turbulent 70s. It was the era of the hippies and Vietnam War, Women’s Lib, and beauty titlist Nelia Sancho joining the underground New People’s Army and later marrying one of its young armed combatants.

But as if celebrating the triumphs of the Edsa Revolution and the old-style Hollywood excitement of Madonna, Naga’s Soundwaves Band began making its mark with their “foxy, lively” singing style that also assured the audience of warm night and wholesome entertainment.

But as they journeyed along and found themselves as either an 8- or 9-man/woman showband among the finest bars in Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Hongkong, and Japan, the Soundwaves Showband had accumulated a total of thirteen vocalists, led by Andy Belmonte and Ning-Ning David who would soon marry each other, siblings Cherrie and Val David, Elizabeth Morales, Menchie Soloria, Lolibeth Zardilla, Irma Penalosa, Yolly Gomes, Brenda Arroyo, Ajit Jimenez, Boots Mesias, and Lydia Almedral.

And did you know that Ms. Arroyo and Ajit were Miss Bicolandia and Miss Naga City, respectively, before they joined the band, though briefly?

Those who had joined the band’s rhythm section were: Victor de Villa, Ranilyo Sugcang, Babes Brocka, Rocky Delis, Manuel Pinto, Randy Bongat, Victor Bai Abellana, Cacoy Esporlas, Monico Alania, Bobby Batingan, and Siegfredo Azana. The others in this section but are no longer around as they joined their creator in the prime of their lives were: Ching Rea, Edgar Alanis, Freddie Seisner, and Nikki Bongat. Nikki was the older brother of Naga Mayor John Bongat who perished in a plane crash while joining a team to deliver relief goods to typhoon victims in Camarines Sur.

The band’s sessionists (sax, trumpet, and trombone) were Tony Dotillos and Jiggs Navarette.

Those who had ventured and are now settled abroad are Arroyo (SF, USA), Zardilla (Calif, USA), Mesias (USA), Sugcang (Hongkong), Delis (Canada), Espinas (Europe), and Azana (US). The rest are either based in Manila or are staying for good in Naga.

Asked what kept their company and music alive and wonderful throughout their years together, NingNing said they owe it to their manager Ramon ‘Otom’ Hernandez who taught them strong discipline, as well as high sense of professionalism, in and out of the stage.

Otom, who was also the proprietor and manager of Deckhouse Restaurant of then popular Lindez Hotel in Naga’s downtown district where the Soundwaves made its first step to the stage, has gone out of his way to keep the band abreast with the big-name singing groups in 5-star hotels in Manila. In fact, he “has brought the Soundwaves to Metro Manila’s entertainment circuit to observe how the Big City’s ‘total performers’ were making it to the top of the heap,” a local paper has reported.

Now comes February 12, at six in the evening, the stylish The Tent of elegant Avenue Plaza Hotel will present “The Soundwaves Rewind, The Reunion Concert” with the names that I have aforementioned (or 99% of them) coming home to perform before their fans, friends, and avid supporters.

With these fans and supporters expected to come in droves, the concert will be the best to happen two days before Valentine’s Day in the city’s famous, dynamic, sparkling and fabulous strip – Magsaysay Avenue.

Fortunately, Ningning disclosed, Otom will be in town from his comfort zone in Manila, to join his “babies” in the February Sunday night concert, making the reunion complete.

Will they be singing with the same perfect notes (that, according to an article that praised their talents to high heavens, made waves – big musical ripples, that is – in Naga’s entertainment scene) that many of us lovers and nightowls had been missing since they disbanded in 1991? That was 26 years of sound of silence as far as good live music aficionados are concerned.

Well, grab your tickets now while they are not yet sold out and find out.

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