Noel Cabangon is best known for the timeless hit “Kanlungan,” a song that was released by his former band Buklod in 1992. The singer-songwriter has become synonymous with the song even if, surprisingly, he wasn’t the one who wrote it.
Unknown to the majority, it was actually Noel’s bandmate in Buklod, Rom Dongeto, who composed “Kanlungan.” When Buklod disbanded and Noel pursued a solo career, the song remained in Noel’s repertoire of live performances and soon became a crowd favorite.
And why not? Noel’s voice, coupled with his skilled guitar playing, is enough to make any audiophile fall in love. Noel has also written and recorded his own songs throughout his solo career.
The same soothing voice and exquisite guitar-playing ability greets you in his latest album, “Byahe Pa Rin,” which includes two of his original compositions as well as several covers of modern OPM hits.
This latest compilation is the third instalment of an album series. The first two were “Byahe” and “Tuloy ang Byahe,” which contains covers of songs from previous decades.
“Byahe Pa Rin,” on the other hand, lets one hear Noel singing and playing more recent tracks from sought-after acts, including Sugarfree’s “Hari ng Sablay,” Up Dharma Down’s “Tadhana” and the Eraserheads’ “With a Smile.”
The covers are immensely different from the originals, and not by accident.
Noel explains, “Ako pag nag-cover ako, I have to veer away from the original. I have to render it differently and make it my own. Simple with minimal arrangements. Sometimes I also change the tempo or time signature.
“So it’s really more of trying to be more creative. Well, creative na yung pagkakagawa sa kanila, pero sa part ko, it has to be something new when people listen to it, given na popular na yung mga kanta.”
“Dito nagbago yung mga kanta, nagbago yung mga emotion,” Noel said in an interview with Interaksyon.
Noel sings with KZ Tandingan in a jazzed-up version of South Border’s “Kahit Kailan.”The song also happens to be one of Noel’s favorite covers on the album.
“Missing You” and “Umiibig” are the two love songs in the album that showcase Noel’s inspired songwriting.
Apart from “Kanlungan,” one other Buklod song that has made a mark on listeners from the past decade to the next is “Tatsulok.” The song was written in released in 1989.
Noel recalls, “It was also brought about by violence and by injustice. At the time there was very strong militarization and a lot of people in the countryside, talagang victims sila ng military operations, without addressing kung ano talaga yung problem.”
Bamboo recorded his version of the song in 2007, making it even more popular. It has garnered newfangled attention in today’s social situation, given the series of alleged extra-judicial killings.
Noel agrees that the song is remains relevant, even if it is practically two decades old. “The lyrics are very much appropriate,” he said.
“Byahe Pa Rin” is available digitally through iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, Amazon, and Spinnr. Physical copies are available in record stores nationwide under Universal Records.
Here are stripped-down acoustic versions of two songs in “Byahe Pa Rin” — Noel’s cover of Sugarfree’s “Hari ng Sablay” and the original song, “Umiibig.”