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‘Woodstock’ in Benguet

By Delmar Carińo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:11:00 06/05/2008

Filed Under: Entertainment (general), Music

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet?More than 60 bands and solo acts from Metro Manila rocked this strawberry capital for some 54 hours last week to the delight of residents, who were happy to realize there was more to music than their usual diet of folk and country.

The event, ?Strawberry Woodstock,? was held at the Benguet State University (BSU) football grounds. Attended by some 10,000 people, it could be this year?s biggest local music festival.

The bands played nonstop from 8 p.m., May 29 to 2 a.m., June 1.

Tribute to OFW

Solo artists like Joey Ayala, Lolita Carbon, Joey ?Pepe? Smith and DJ Alvaro brought the crowd to their feet, while bands like the Philippine Violators, Alamid and Grin Department got the crowd thumping and shrieking with their punk, pop-rock and humor-laced songs.

Hosts were DJs Bob Magoo (formerly of dzRJ), Ramon Zialcita (a.k.a. The Doctor of 99.5 RT, LA 105 and 99.9 Country in Baguio) and John Le Grew (?Eighteen Wheeler? of dzWR Magic 99.9 Baguio).

Concert organizer Mario Leguizamo, an Italian and now a resident of Baguio City, said the event was meant to pay tribute to overseas Filipino workers. He sought Zialcita?s help to gather as many bands in the country, drawing inspiration from the original ?Woodstock Music & Art Fair,? the historic three-day event held in Bethel, New York from Aug. 15-18, 1969. (See related story below.)

Leguizamo, then 15, was in the Bethel audience. From then on, he said, he dreamt of organizing his own ?little Woodstock.?

He said he chose to hold the concert in this capital town to promote its culture and products through rock music.

?Most of all, [it was organized] to tap local talents,? said Leguizamo. ?Local talent is amazing and terrific. There?s a sea of talents [in Benguet].?

The concert gave these local talents? among them Lourdes Gomeyac-Fangki, tagged as the ?Songbird of the Cordillera?; pop singer John Utleg, progressive ethno-rock group Bagiw and folk-rock band Binhi? the chance to perform their music. The last two groups gained exposure in the national music scene largely through the efforts of Zialcita and his fellow DJs at the defunct LA 105.

The sets of Carbon and American Michael Ephron, the only foreigner in the roster of performers, were electrifying.

Carbon played some of the best-loved songs of her legendary group Asin, and Ephron wowed the crowd with his wizardry on the keyboards.

Asked why she didn?t mind traveling a far distance to join ?Strawberry Woodstock,? Carbon replied, ?This is an important music assembly. It?s a tribute to OFWs and I want to do my part.?

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