Blades is another band plucked from obscurity. From their sweet conquests in Balayan, Batangas, the young band had ventured to Manila. “Lahat kasi ng battle sinalihan namin from Batangas hanggang sa Cavite,” says Vicente De Castro Quilet, the proud manager. Blades actually had won all contests it had joined including the Star City’s Battle of the Bands where Blades had bested 51 other bands. “Yes, parang national championship na rin yun at kami ang naging champion,” beams Quilet.
In their Manila gigs, Blades earn up to P30,000 per night of performance. They’ve got schedules in Pagcor’s casinos and more gigs at Puregold branches. “Mahina kasi pag sa mga bar. Mas maganda pag sa mga parang promo o opening ang performance, para bang corporate ang dating kaya mas mataas ang rate.” Performing in sleazy places greatly diminishes the image of the band so the manager is very careful in choosing their gigs.
“Hindi lang ako basta manager,” declares Quilet, “actually front act din ako minsan… about one-third ng kanta, ako ang bumabanat.” It’s no joke to manage a band like Blades, which literally was named after the balisong of Batangas. From their hometown to Manila, the standard rate for a van is P3,500. “Eh hindi naman puwede sa taxi kasi may mga instrumento kaming dala. Sana kung kaya ng karetela ang Batangas up to Manila,” jokes Quilet. “Pero actually manager lang ako sa operations, yun bang ako ang taga-hanap ng gigs. Pero sa gastos, share-share lang kami dyan. Buti nga mura ang studio rehearsal sa Balayan, bale P150 per hour. Eh mahina ang tatlong oras tapos three times a week ang practice. Hindi biro ang gastos, di ba?”
The band members, particularly Quilet, compose their songs so they have lots of original. Some of their compositions are as old as seven years. “Nasa baul lang, hindi namin akalain na makakalabas sa mundo. Ayan, na-recording na rin. Yung album namin, puro orig ang mga kanta run. Crossover rock ang genre nung iba,” explains Quilet. Crossover rock has a semblance of ballad or soft music at first which eventually rises in a cresendo before transforming into the hard rock beat. “Si Boss Sunny ang nag-imbento nyang word na crossover,” he says with a smile.
Vincent Daffalong while sipping coffee in the mini-patio of the Film Academy
Vicente De Castro Quilet is actually Vincent Daffalong, the famed novelty singer who got known for his signature song Mahiwagang Nunal. “Pero ang first recording ko talaga ay yung Spraken Delight. Medyo uso pa yung mga pa-German-German ni Ramon Zamora nung time na yun. Tapos sinuwerte nga hanggang nakarami rin ako ng album.” Lucky him because Vicor never fails to reward him with the royalties of his album such that he had earned a lot with his succession of hit songs.
When asked if it was true that it was Joey De Leon who baptized him Daffalong, Vincent smiles again while shaking his head. “Hindi, hindi si Joey. Actually si Boss Chito Ilacad yun. Mahilig kasi akong manloko ng pangalan. Kung naalala mo ang Boyfriends, yung isa nilang member ay bininyagan ko ng Mala-bu-rah… pag binagalan mo ang pag-pronounce ay bastos ang lalabas,” he laughs on his own mischief. And then out of the blue or maybe a way of getting even with Vincent, Chito had said to him, “Vic, halika, may pangalan ako sa iyo… dapa ang ilong!” And the name Daffalong was born with the Americanized version of Vicente. “Actually, bubutasan na yung unang plaka ko pero hindi pa alam kung anong pangalan ang gagamitin ko.”
In the course of the interview, it was very noticeable that the Boyfriends and the Ilacad brothers, Chito and Sunny, were always mentioned. “Eh kasi sa Boyfriends ako nabigyan ng break. Ginawa akong backup singer ng Boyfriends. Dun ako nahasa kasi talagang feel mo ang tono pag ibang voice ang tune mo, di ba? “ Aside from providing the second voice, he had also provided some of his compositions to the crooning group such as Mamahalin Kita, Dance with Me and Ikaw Ang Buhay Ko. “Yung Dance With Me, ni-revive ni Ogie yan kelan lang. Tapos yung kay Eva Eugenio na Ano ang Gagawin, akin rin yun. Sana may mag-revive din,” he again displays his toothy smile.
Vincent owes everything to the Ilacad brothers particularly to Sunny. “Masyado kaming naging close nyan. Until now pag may kailangan ako… Boss Sunny, kailangan kong mag-recording… tatawag agad yan tapos sasabihin nya o, ayan, may studio ka na.” Sunny provides the logistics and other resources needed by Vincent whose focus is more on the commercial ads lately. “Mahina na kasi ang plaka ngayon. Mahirap maglabas dahil marami raw problema. Pero ang Octo, nag-iipon din yan ng mga kanta kaya okay lang mag-submit sa kanila.”
Most of his compositions which hit the charts good were products of inspiration. “Madali kasing mag-compose pag may pangyayaring mabigat sa buhay mo. Like nung nag-break kami ng girlfriend ko, ayun, nakasulat agad ako ng kanta.” Vincent clapped his hands to produce a rhythm. “Ayan, kahit ganyan lang ang akompanya eh nakaka-compose na ko ng kanta. Pero tatakbo agad ako sa tape recorder pag may pumasok na tune sa ulo ko. Mahirap kasing tandaan, madaling mabura sa isipan. Suwerte na nga at may celphone ngayon, may recorder na,” explains Vincent of his style in composing.
Vincent is not ashamed to tell that he once was a tagabu. “Nag-submit ako ng demo tape sa Vicor. Dun ko unang nakita si Boss Chito saka si Boss Sunny. Eh wala namang nangyari sa demo ko kaya kinaibigan ko yung sa production. Mga sound technician, musicians kahit yung sa reception. Hanggang napasok na ko run. Tagabu ang papel ko, tagabuhat ng instrumento.” Vincent was actually posted as a sort of instruments custodian who knows a bit of technical like handling the mixer and the amps. “Matagal din akong nagtiyaga pero enjoy naman ako kaya hindi ko pinansin yung pitong taon. Nung una, nakakatugtog ako kahit conga. Drums yun, pinag-aralan ko rin. Pero unti-unti na nga akong sumusungaw hanggang naging backup singer na nga ako ng Boyfriends.”
Even before penetrating the shield of Vicor, he already knows how to play several instruments. “Gitara syempre saka flute, kaya ko rin pati keyboard kahit konti. Pero sa Vicor ako natuto talaga. Pati sa sound technician natuto rin ako dun.” Now, he plays intruments only in small gatherings because he prefers to sing on stage. “Dyan kasi ako nakilala sa pagkanta kaya dyan ang focus pag may gig kami.”
After hitting payday, Vincent went into hibernation in 1992 until 2002. “Nagpunta kasi sa Amerika ang pamilya ko,” he waxes a bit sentimental. It wasn’t clear if he got separated from his family. “Nag-real estate muna ko para malibang kasi medyo mababa ang IQ ko sa music that time,” wanting to emphasize his sentimentality as if he was soliciting a rejoinder (which did not come at all). But the call of music couldn’t just be ignored. Vincent, once again, flapped his wings into the music world by mentoring the Blades band.
“Yun nga palang composition ko ang baka sumikat dyan,” he jokingly says while trying to remember the title of the song. “Ano yun kasi, yun bang nadala na niya sa tahimik na lugar yung babae tapos biglang tumunog ang cel tapos yung babae ang sumagot tapos…” Vincent finally remembers the title,”Sorry Na, yun pala ang title. Pero maganda ang lyrics nyan kasi may kuwento talaga.”
Vincent is quite content with the Blades for the moment. “Syempre maraming hiling pa rin gaya ng service, sana makabili kami ng van para hindi na kami umaarkila. Saka sana mag-hit yung first album. Blades rin ang title ng Album. Ganyan naman kadalasan, puro self-titled pag unang labas,” Vincent seems to be thinking aloud while looking at the ceiling. With 25 years as the average age of his band members, the Blades has still a long way to go. In the tradition of the Beatles, they have one drummer and 3 guitarists. But aside from Vincent, they have a female vocalist which they hope would catch the attention of the general public.
And for the parting question of the possibility of resurrecting his singing career, Vincent gets serious. “Oo nga, kung puwede lang ibalik. Pero hindi naman tayo nawawalan ng pag-asa, timing lang naman yan. Magandang kanta na catchy tapos… basta nasa timing lang yan.” Vincent Daffalong, with actually a bit normal-looking nose, sips his coffee, obviously musing on the question of regaining his popularity. And perhaps timing is a good element.
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