If only our neighborhood istambays could sing—and were as delightfully silly as Noel Cabangon and Aiza Seguerra—we wouldn’t mind losing sleep, putting up with their rowdy laughter and drunken chatter at night. We might even join them for a swig or two.
There were no bottles of beer or plates of nuts and chicharon during last Friday’s “Tambayan Hits: Balikan ang Barkada” concert at Onstage, Greenbelt 1. But we might as well be in front of a sari-sari store, drunk on Noel and Aiza’s intoxicating musicality.
Featuring songs often played in street jam sessions with friends, the concert opened with a drawn out, sweeping instrumental mashup of the duo’s hits—“Kanlungan,” “Akala Mo,” “Tatsulok,” “Pagdating ng Panahon.” Then the two artists, in simple T-shirts and jeans, took to the stage, settled on wooden benches, and brought the house down with “Alapaap” flourished with percussive folk beats.
As they sang one fan favorite after another—“Dito sa Kanto,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Kayod Kabayo, Kayod Barya,” “You’ve Got a Friend”—Noel and Aiza would engage in funny, exchanges, the latter poking fun at the senior musician’s age every chance she gets. They reminisced about their own tambayan days.
Aiza: “Iba ang kuwentuhan ‘pag may inuman kasi nawawala ang inhibitions mo…mas nakakapag-share ka ng sakit sa puso, o kung may gusto kang tao…”
Noel: “Parang ’yung kapitbahay namin—’yung anak ni Aling Pitang na may pansitan. Araw-araw tuloy doon ako kumakain!”
The two regaled the packed crowd with songs that brimmed with emotions, whether of triumph or loss, defiance or heartbreak.
Aiza, who has one of the most heart-wrenchingly delicate voices in the local music industry, tackled unrequited love in “Pakisabi na Lang.” Her other standout numbers were “Ano’ng Nangyari sa Ating Dalawa,” “With a Smile” and “Kiss from a Rose.”
Noel was in top form as well, lending no-frills, soul-stirring vocals, and crisp guitar-playing to the songs “Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka,” “Pumapatak ang Ulan” and “Akala Mo.” For
this OPM champ, it’s never too late to celebrate Independence Day. He gave forceful renditions of “Tayo’y mga Pinoy” and “Tatsulok.”
Among the duets, their take on Joey Ayala’s poignant “Walang Hanggang Paalam” left the most lasting impression. They sang as one, sending waves of melancholia and hope, Aiza caressed each line.
Before ending the night with “Kanlungan,” “Pagdating ng Panahon” and a pounding cover of “Come Together,” Noel and Aiza plucked out unsuspecting fellow artists Juris, Ogie Alcasid, Charice, Bayang Barrios and Nyoy Volante from the crowd to jam with them onstage—as in a real tambayan.
Ogie cracked up the audience as he voiced out what everyone had been thinking: “Lahat tayo dito maliliit!” The guest artists’ willingness to participate, much to the crowd’s amusement, was rewarded with packs of junk food from a makeshift store at the back.
The show—directed by Mike Villegas—brought new meaning to the old phrase, “Less is more.” It proved that a production could do away with gimmicks and fancy stage design, with artists who are sincere, spontaneous and genuinely skilled.