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imns



This ‘90s band is struggling to regain control …

of their precious property

By Nini Valera
Inquirer
First Posted 00:37:00 10/01/2006

Filed Under: Music

Published on page Q5 of the October 1, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

?YOUR LOVE? defined the sound of the 1990s and shoved the underground band Alamid into the mainstream.

Written by Dexter Facelo and Gary Ignacio, frontmen for Alamid, the song has recently been redone by Erik Santos, renewing interest from other record labels to reissue the song in other forms?a videoke track from Vicor and an acoustic version from Alpha. Santos? version has also been used as a music bed for the ABS-CBN fantaserye ?Super Inggo.?

A few years back, Jeremiah also released a version of the song, which many consider to be the next ?Ngayon at Kailanman.?

Meanwhile, the band Alamid, with only Ignacio and Facelo remaining among the original members, is languishing in limbo, playing for peanuts in seedy places like a beerhouse in Quezon City and a pub in Batangas, where they try to recapture their glory days.

?We were told that we don?t own the song,? Ignacio said. ?Our manager, Dodong Viray, who has since passed away, supposedly signed a contract with Warner, giving the label perpetual rights over the song.?

Non-existent contract?

Warner Music?s general manager Jim Baluyot confirmed this.

?That?s what I know,? he told Inquirer. ?The band assigned the song to Warner in perpetuity.?

Unfortunately, Baluyot has just assumed his post at Warner?s and has still to see the contract, which Facelo and Ignacio claim does not exist.

?If there was a contract, then how come it?s taking them a long time to give us a copy of it?? asked Facelo. ?Gary has been calling them for several months now because we also want to reissue the song under our own independent label. But he has been given the runaround.?

Warner?s Flerry De Leon said she is digging into the company?s data base of contracts to prove the deal, according to Ignacio.

?How much time do they need to look for a contract? It?s not as if they had hundreds of artists in Warner?s during our time,? Facelo said. ?As far as we can remember, there were only about 20 of us local artists with the label.?

These artists included Lea Salonga and ZsaZsa Padilla, Ignacio recalled.

?Like us, they also left the label,? he added.

It?s a discordant note in the music industry, a sad refrain echoed by older, even if not wiser bands, like the iconic Juan dela Cruz, who has fought its own battle against perpetual publishing rights, as well as royalty payments. Like, who knows who owns ?Himig Natin"? And how much has it earned Pepe Smith, who is still far from being a millionaire more than three decades after he wrote the song in a bar in Tokyo, Japan?

But Ignacio and Facelo are fighting it out.

?Only because it?s our song,? Facelo said.

As owners of the song, the duo feels they ought to have a say on who could record it. They admit that they were not too happy about Erik Santos? version.

Precious memories

Warner executives claimed that like Madonna, who has also assigned the publishing right of some of her songs to the label, no songwriter or performer could question the label?s decision on the fate of a song, according to Ignacio. The label was also not obligated to inform the songwriters or original artist that a song would be reissued by another singer, according to Ignacio.

But is that fair? Ignacio and Facelo do not think so.

Memories of the song remain precious to both.

?There was a time,? Facelo recalled, ?when a British national looked for us so that he could propose to his girlfriend while we sang ?Your Love.??

The Brit, a regular customer in a club in Bahrain where Alamid had a stint in 2000, was a fan of the band. They know him only as James.

?James found us performing in a concert in Pampanga,? said Ignacio. ?He was there, and he had a girl with him. When we sang ?Your Love,? James asked the girl to dance. It was a concert, but James didn?t care. In the middle of our song, he went down on one knee and took out a ring and offered it to the girl.?

Alamid has also sung the song in weddings and even in funerals. They are still singing the song?in their dreams, in their minds, and in their misery.

Too ominous

Formed in 1993, Alamid entered the music scene via the underground route, tracing their roots in places like Club Dredd and Mayrick?s. Remnants of other bands, Alamid was first known as Athena?s Curse, a name that record executives thought too ominous to be successful that no one picked up the demo the band had recorded and tried to peddle to record companies.

?Only after we became Alamid did the labels pay attention to us,? said Ignacio.

Their first album, released by Warner Music Philippines, called Alamid, included ?Your Love? as its carrier single. Ironically, the song, a sentimental, romantic ballad, alienated the band from their peers of underground rockers. But there was no way for Alamid to turn their backs on mainstream success?and the establishment.

With a professional manager, Dodong Viray, backing them up, there was no stopping Alamid from conquering the music scene, which was then ruled by rock bands like Color it Red, Side A, Eraserheads, The Youth, Put3ska, among others.

?Your Love? hit gold in 1994 (20,000 copies sold), and was named song of the year by the NU 107 Rock Awards.

But the greatest tribute to the band?s musicality was paid by another rock star?Jon Bon Jovi?who had cancelled an engagement when he was in Manila for a show in 1993 to watch Alamid perform in Mayrick?s.

?That was the biggest moment in our career,? said Ignacio of Bon Jovi?s visit.

Upheaval

A second album, ?Panaginip,? soon followed. Then a third, ?Radio Friendly,? and finally, ?A Best Of? album that was anything but the best after an upheaval at Warner?s.

?We were then performing abroad when the label called and asked us to return so we could promote the album,? Ignacio said. ?When we returned, the executives that we dealt with in Warner, Maan Hontiveros and Eugene Villaluz, were no longer there. The people who were then running Warner didn?t know what to do with us.?

Schedules for radio promo activities were so messed up that Alamid once found themselves in a radio station that did not welcome them.

?The station told us we were not included in their guest list that day,? Facelo recalled. ?Ayun, mukha kaming tanga (We looked like fools). There was nobody from the label that accompanied us. We were at a loss, and we had terminated a contract abroad so we could promote our album here.?

By year 2000, the landscape of the local music industry was beginning to change. The acoustic genre was becoming a louder sound in the music industry, and the bands, with their rough edges and gritty music, gave way to the mellow and the bland.

On tour

Alamid, however, was still in demand, thanks to a beer brand that believed in music marketing and carved its niche on rock.

?Our San Miguel Beer tours kept us busy on tours around the Philippines,? Ignacio said. ?Until now, they call on us to perform whenever they have activities out of town.?

After Viray died in 2002, the band went from one manager to another. One manager, clueless about how to handle a rock band, had wanted to transform Alamid from a rock group to a show band, and to provide accompaniment to female singers.

?The manager was OK naman,? said Facelo. ?But he did not know what do with us.?

They soon parted ways, and another manager took over. Again, the partnership with the new manager did not work out. By then, R?n?B was already making the loudest noise in the music industry, and a true-blue rock group like Alamid had to wait its turn again in the wings.

Now in their late thirties and family men, Facelo and Ignacio have remained young boys and die-hard rockers. Still sporting long hair and wearing black T-shirts and pants, once the national costume of the music underground culture, the childhood friends from Malabon are determined to make a comeback.

No stable future

They also want to make money from ?Your Love,? which they both claimed had not given them enough revenue to even buy cars or a stable future.

?We made most of our money on gigs,? said Facelo. ?But even then, we were still shortchanged by some producers.?

Ignacio related that during a show in Boracay, the producer had failed to pay them the balance on their talent fee, and the band was stranded in the resort island.

?We were able to buy our plane tickets only after we played in another bar,? Ignacio said.

A series of misfortunes and dwindling fortunes from lack of bookings had also caused the other band members to break away from Alamid.

?They went into business or to the US,? Facelo said. ?One is a rich kid. They felt it was the end for Alamid.?

But it is not the end for Facelo and Ignacio. The duo has not stopped writing songs. They write perhaps out of despair, but they still write from the heart. And it was from the heart that ?Your Love? had come.



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