i create. i am a creation.

Wala Nang Tao Sa Sta Filomena

Posted on: October 29, 2014

I had been singing this haunting song to my twins when I put them to sleep since the day I brought them home from the hospital until tonight. Yeah, I know it’s not a good lullaby but it’s the only song I could think of that I couldn’t sing without my entire being shredded into little pieces and stuffed into each note that comes out of my vocal chords.

I got to know this song through Patatag‘s Nagbabagang Lupa album, which my parents brought home one day. It was rare that my parents could buy tapes then because money was really tight so it was a novelty for us to have a tape of any musical genre at home. That tape was played to death on our lone radio/cassette player that sat on top of our mala-cabinet black and white TV.

I think my youngest sister and I had our first heartbreak with that album. I remember that same sister crying after hearing “Tano” because “kawawa naman sya.” I was six years old and my sister was five. The country was about to see its first mass uprising to get rid of a dictator. The housewife of a murdered senator was about to run for president.

Fast-forward, my parents again brought home another tape but this time it was by Joey Ayala, his first album. I discovered he was the composer of the song that has haunted my sleep for so long.

I saved bits of my small weekly allowance to buy his succeeding albums. I was in grade school that time. Later on I fell in love with “Walang Hanggang Paalam.” (That’s for another future blog entry.)

Anyway, the Patatag’s rendition was the one that got stuck in my head for 30 years. It was painful and at the same time beautiful. Joey Ayala’s song was so visual and yet deep. It was a song told from the point of view of a bird, seeing the desolation caused by war. A village caught in the middle of gunfire.

Well at least that was my interpretation when I was in high school and college. I have yet to Google its real meaning or the circumstances surrounding that song.

Years later, I had a gig writing for a series of 2-minute spots about child soldiers for RMN. Dong Abay was one of the musicians working on the series. We spent an afternoon or two figuring out how to incorporate the revised lyrics of “Pen pen de sarapen” with granadas and armalites and my script into 2-minute spots (In the end we used one of his original songs for some of the spots instead).

I was too shy to chat with him about Patatag then. I was also probably starstruck (hey, he was one-half of Yano of my highschool and college years!) and all I managed was “Yeah, I’ll email you my script.”

A decade later, I got to work with AR Sabangan when we were doing investigative stories for InterAksyon. I learned that she was part of the Nagbabagang Lupa album and she was the one who recruited Dong Abay and Grace Nono to join Patatag. Parang, whoa, my youth revisited (sorry, AR, alam mo namang malaki tanda mo sa kin hehehe).

One hazy night (well, hazy because my head was already cloudy with all the stuff we had been doing for our investigative gig), we were able to go down the Patatag memory lane, allowing me to ask her about some of the lyrics of the songs that played on a loop in my head for 30 years.

And I told her that Wala Nang Tao sa Sta Filomena is one of my favorites and their rendition is the one I could never forget.

I hope this song will be remembered by my kids as something that their mother had sung to them while they slept. A song that would remind them that all is not well in other parts of this country. I just hope when they grow up, there won’t be any Sta Filomenas anymore.

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1 Response to "Wala Nang Tao Sa Sta Filomena"

Did you find out the real meaning of the song “Wala Nang Tao Sa Santa Filomena”? I would love to know.

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life in business journalism

crazy. exciting. boring to some but hey, you get to understand the world better when you're a business journalist. you learn to be patient with tons of documents, make sense of numbers and charts. all geeky stuff. this is my story, behind the scenes.
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