Ang Huling El Bimbo

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"Ang Huling El Bimbo"
Single by Eraserheads
from the album Cutterpillow
Released 1995
Genre Alternative rock, Pinoy rock
Length 7:29
Label BMG Records (through their Musiko label)
Writer(s) Ely Buendia
Producer(s) Robin Rivera
Certification Platinum (Philippine Association of the Record Industry)

"Ang Huling El Bimbo" (English: "The Last El Bimbo") is a song composed by Ely Buendia of the Philippine pop/rock band Eraserheads, for their 1996 studio album Cutterpillow. It received extensive airplay after its release and ranked #2 on RX 93.1's "Top 20 OPM Requests of 1996".[1] It is the only Tagalog song included in the band's international compilation album, Aloha Milkyway (1998). The song's music video catapulted the band's success outside the Philippines by bagging the 'International Viewer's Choice Awards for Asia' at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.[2]

The song has been covered by many other artists, including Rico J. Puno for the 2005 Eraserheads tribute album, Ultraelectromagneticjam!: The Music of the Eraserheads and by Jay Durias of South Border for another tribute album, The Reunion: An Eraserheads Tribute Album, in 2012. Buendia also sang an orchestral rendition of this song under the baton of Gerard Salonga with the Manila-based symphony orchestra FILharmoniKA, for the 2008 anthology album, FILharmoniKa - Kumpas: An Orchestral Celebration of Pinoy Music.

Background[edit]

According to Buendia, "Ang Huling El Bimbo" is a melodrama about one of the famous dances of the '70s. It was written in a semi-biographical fashion because when Buendia was a young boy, he had a teacher who taught him the El Bimbo dance. Additional elements were placed to adorn the narrative and build the final storyline of the song: a first-person point of view of a man's unrequited feelings for his childhood friend whose life unfortunately comes to a tragic end.

Composition and structure[edit]

Most popular music of the '80s to early '90s in the Philippines were known to follow a certain pattern: slow-tempo intro which builds to a progressive refrain, eventually leading to a loud and emotional chorus. "Ang Huling El Bimbo" forged a trail of its own by opening the song with a couple of chorus chords (G-Am7-C-G) in full blast of Buendia's rhythms, Buddy Zabala's tight basslines, Raimund Marasigan's energetic beats, and Marcus Adoro's eccentric leads.

The first stanza, played in the same chords as the chorus, follows a brief instrumental pause after the intro; ushering the story arc of the narrator's childhood, introducing a certain girl with striking resemblance to Paraluman. The girl has a penchant for dancing, be it to the tune of boogie or cha-cha; but El Bimbo was her favorite. She can dance it contagiously, which gives the narrator a sense of enjoyment and strong emotion that gives him goosebumps.

The first refrain, played in the chords of Em-Am-C-G, tells the narrator's growing interest in the girl as he visits her directly after school, where she would teach him the dance for the rest of the day. The song's melody at this point increases pace, complemented by the arrival of the chorus.

The one-sentenced chorus suggests that the narrator developed an innocent love towards the girl through the unsullied way of holding each other's hands as part of the dance routine.

The second stanza focuses on the narrator's growing feelings for his childhood friend through their constant dancing, starting from how petrified he is every time the record spins. He openly describes her drop-dead hip-swaying moves and how his life seems brighter every time his arms are draped around her.

The second refrain tells how the narrator yearns of telling the girl that despite being out of fashion, El Bimbo was the only dance he knows. This indicates that the narrator already knew the El Bimbo before the girl taught him the moves; and that he simply let him become her student so they can be together in one way or another. The second chorus follows.

The bridge effectively uses a simple phrase ("La la la la") while playing an alternative (lower) chorus chords to transition from the narrator's past to his present situation.

The third stanza reveals that the narrator and his childhood friend parted ways without seeing each other for a very long time. However, hearsay spoke of the girl being unwed with a child and earns a living as a dishwasher in the district of Ermita, Manila. And one unfateful night, she was accidentally run over in a dark alley. The last refrain, also considered as the song's climax, implies how all his aspirations suddenly crumbled upon hearing the news; that he'll be only able to dance with her in his dreams, and how his affection for the girl will forever be unrequited.

The chorus playing twice, followed by a couple of bridge phrases, serves as the song's denouement; and the impressive guitar solos and almost-theatrical instrumental accompaniment provides the dramatic finale.

Music video[edit]

The song's accompanying music video was directed by Auraeus Solito and completed filming within two days at Solito's ancestral house in Sampaloc, Manila. As a theatre director, Solito injected several experimental shots and symbolisms in the video despite being a literal translation of the story contained in the song. According to Buendia, this was the first major production music video of the band since it involved big budget due to casting; and being treated as a short film due to the song's playing time and storyline. This also marked the first time the Eraserheads produced a music video for their song.

The video looks back at the younger days of the Eraserheads, thus a major part of it is played by the band's younger counterparts. The boys who portrayed the young Adoro, Buendia, Marasigan, and Zabala were Solito's neighbors; while the young girl was discovered during one of PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association) workshops conducted by Rowena Basco, who her self portrayed the older girl in the video.

Two versions of the song's music video exist: in one version, some of the characters' voices and additional audio can be heard:

  • A young boy (imposed to be the young Buendia) utters "Paraluman" immediately after the first line of the song
  • Audible giggling and discussion between the boys as they spy on the young girl while she is dancing alone in her balcony before the first refrain; and shrieks can be heard when a young Adoro falls down from a tree
  • The young boys are shouting and laughing as they are running from the gate during the first refrain; they are shouting and laughing again during the second refrain
  • During the second chorus, the children are singing along to the song
  • The crashing of the plate is audible during the third stanza
  • After the last bridge, the Eraserheads are saying their respective phrases before leaving the grave
  • Faint voices during the flashback scene of the instrumental
  • Flickering flames in the burning grave

The inclusion of characters' voices and additional audio allows the music video to be treated as a short film; and added visual emphasis on the song's poignant story.

In another version, all notable sounds were muted, allowing the song to be heard unobstructed.

Deviating from the music video trends at the time of its release, the video does not show the Eraserheads themselves playing and singing the song; it simply showcases the respective instruments as they play without giving away any of the Eraserheads' faces.

  • Rhythm guitar (Buendia): before the first stanza
  • Drums (Marasigan): before the first refrain and during the first lines of second stanza
  • Lead guitar (Adoro): after the first chorus
  • Bass guitar (Zabala): third refrain

The video starts with Adoro, Marasigan, and Zabala sitting; with Buendia standing, on what seemed to be a rooftop. The Eraserheads looked disjointed as the camera pans upward to a clear blue sky before revealing the title, "Ang Huling El Bimbo", with the "E" of the word "El" written in the band's signature inverted E. Atop the word "Bimbo" are three flower sketches in the shades of red, blue and green. The panning was a cinematic technique used to transition the viewers from the present back to the past.

As the camera slowly pans down, sounds of children playing taya-tayaan can be heard (for both versions):

"Taya!" ("Tag!")

—Boy 1

"Sali ako!" ("I want in!")

—Boy 2

"Sige sali ka, ikaw ang taya!" ("Sure you're in, but you're it!")

—Boy 1

"O sige! Taya!" ("Oh sure! Tag!")

—Boy 2

The viewers are taken back in time (believed to be in the 1970s), suggesting that the boys playing around are the younger versions of Adoro, Buendia, Marasigan and Zabala. As the boys run around, the song's intro starts to play. The boys can also be seen playing patintero, hide-and-seek, and sidewalk chalk drawings.

First stanza[edit]

Kamukha mo si Paraluman (You resembled Paraluman)
Nung tayo ay bata pa (Back when we were young)
At ang galing galing mong sumayaw (And you danced extremely well)
Mapa-boogie man o cha-cha (May it be boogie or cha-cha)

During the first line of the song, a young Buendia is seen lying on a balcony under a tree, foreshadowing a scene later in the video. The video then cuts to the four boys lounging in front of an old television set, showing a flick of Paraluman. The boys are holding vinyl records and mimics the scene shown in the TV. It then cuts to a sequence of videos where a young girl is dancing boogie and cha-cha, with each of the boys as her partner, one at a time.

Ngunit ang paborito (But your most favorite one)
Ay ang pagsayaw mo ng El Bimbo (Is dancing the El Bimbo)
Nakaka-indak, nakaka-aliw (It makes me groove, it's entertaining)
Nakaka-tindig balahibo (Gives me the creeps and goosebumps)

The video shows the young girl dancing the El Bimbo all by herself in the balcony of her house, with smile beaming from her face as the boys watch secretly behind a tree. As she continue dancing, a young Adoro climbed higher to reveal himself (and the rest of the boys in the process) before deliberately falling to the ground. The young girl looked down on him slyly.

Refrain[edit]

Pagkagaling sa 'skwela ay didiretso na sa inyo (After going to school we'll go straight to your house)
At buong maghapon ay tinuturuan mo ako (And you'll be teaching me for the rest of the day)

Giggling merrily, the four boys are seen running from the gate inside the young girl's house while still in their school uniforms and bags in tow. The young girl is seen waiting at the door, welcoming the boys in her white dance dress. She then serves the boys a drink and dramatically pulls an illustrated dance guide of the El Bimbo from the vinyl cover.

Chorus[edit]

Magkahawak ang ating kamay (We are holding each other's hands)
At walang kamalay-malay (And unaware completely)
Na tinuruan mo ang puso ko (That you have also taught my heart)
Na umibig ng tunay (To love sincerely)

As the boys are busy running their fingers in the El Bimbo illustrated dance guide, the young girl reached out to the young Buendia's hands who looked at her in astonishment. As she reciprocated with a suggestive smile, the rest of the boys expressed suspicion and bewilderment, sensing that there is something going on between the two. Then they all approached a vintage turntable; the young girl and the young Buendia danced shortly before the former lodged the vinyl, handed by the young Marasigan, where they resume dancing afterwards.

Second stanza[edit]

Naninigas ang aking katawan (I feel my body petrify)
'Pag umikot na ang plaka (When the record starts playing)
Patay sa kembot ng beywang mo (The way you sway your hips makes me weak)
At sa pungay ng iyong mga mata (And how your eyes stare at me)

The video shows each of the boys' silhouettes petrified in an exaggerated manner before the four of them doing the same action in unison, followed by a shot of the record spinning in the vintage turntable. The video cuts to the young girl dancing with the young Buendia in a dimly lit room.

Lumiliwanag ang buhay (You bring light into my life)
Habang tayo'y magkaakbay (As I engulf you in my embrace)
At dahan-dahang dumudulas (Gently and slowly my hand slips)
Ang kamay ko sa makinis mong braso (Away from the smoothness of your arms)

The video cuts to the shadow of the young girl slowly elevating in front of the boys' silhouettes while doing the El Bimbo hand movement before eventually illuminating the entire frame. The video cuts back to the young girl dancing with the young Buendia in a dimly lit room, with a long shot revealing one of the boys standing stationary in the background while another one can be seen running around.

Second refrain[edit]

Sana noon pa man ay sinabi na sa iyo (How I wish I've told you this a long time ago)
Kahit hindi na uso ay ito lang ang alam ko (Despite out of fashion, it's what I only know)

While doing their homeworks outside, a young Zabala was distracted by a young Adoro and a young Marasigan shaking a tree branch; while a young Buendia tried to keep focus in writing what believed to be the song. However, the four boys eventually tossed up the papers in the air and simply enjoyed their time outdoors. The video then cuts to the young girl looking at a pair of caged love birds, before holding on the railings of her window; an allusion that conveys her real situation.

Second chorus[edit]

For the second chorus, the young girl is shown coming down a stairway in full dress as the boys watch in fascination. The young girl proceeds to dance with the young Buendia, and the rest of the boys eventually join the two, all of them dancing arm-in-arm.

First bridge[edit]

La la la la
La la
La la
La la la

While doing the El Bimbo in their own personal spaces, someone starts throwing flower petals at them, leading to a ruckus which litters the squeaky-clean floor. In the middle of the commotion, a lady (assumed to be either the young girl's mother or aunt) comes in tramping, her face is a picture of anger and disappointment. She drags the young girl forcefully to her side and splits the record into four separate pieces using her bare hands. The four boys pick a piece of the record each for themselves before scrambling away, leaving the young girl in tears as the camera pans away to her left side. The scene fades with the wooden image of the Virgin Mary.

Third stanza[edit]

Lumipas ang maraming taon (Many years have passed and gone by)
'Di na tayo nagkita (We have never met since then)
Balita ko'y may anak ka (Rumors said you have a child)
Ngunit walang asawa (But you don't have a husband)

The four boys are shown transitioning to their respective present-day Eraserhead counterpart separately after putting on their shirt, in the following order: Buendia, Zabala, Adoro, Marasigan. The young girl is now a mother of two, portrayed by U. P. theater actress Rowena Basco. She is carrying a baby while her toddler son is clapping in the background. A man then takes the baby away from her as she pulls out a plate.

Tagahugas ka raw (They said that you earn a living)
Ng pinggan sa may Ermita (Washing plates within Ermita)
At isang gabi'y nasagasaan (And then one night, you were run over)
Sa isang madilim na eskinita (In a gloomy alley)

Basco dramatically shows the plate to the viewers before letting it go from her grasp, causing the plate to shatter in the wooden floor. The video cuts to Basco with her back facing the camera, slowly turning towards the viewers with blood trickling down her mouth to her chest.

Third refrain[edit]

Lahat ng pangarap ko'y bigla lang natunaw (All my cherished hopes have melted instantly)
Sa panaginip na lang pala kita maisasayaw (It is only in my dreams where I can dance with you again)

A small terrapin is shown walking down the bass guitar as Zabala is hitting the bassline of the refrain. Each of the Eraserheads' silhouettes are superimposed, suggesting images of frustration and disbelief: Marasigan keeps pulling his hair back; Buendia smoking an unlighted cigarette; Adoro throws a flower forcefully to the ground; and Zabala bows his head down with a telephone cord in his neck and the handset dangling at his chest. The video briefly fades out to the terrapin which keeps walking towards the edge of the bass guitar, eventually falling in slow motion as the camera pans down to present-day Buendia, lying in the same balcony as he did during the song's opening lyrics, singing the line, "Sa panaginip na lang pala kita maisasayaw"; the only scene in the video where Buendia sings a line of the song.

Third chorus[edit]

Like the second chorus, Basco is shown coming down a stairway; however, this time she is dressed in white as Adoro, Buendia, Marasigan, and Zabala are momentarily shown in awe. Basco then dances with Buendia in a room surrounded by candles for the entire third chorus.

Fourth chorus[edit]

Basco dances with Marasigan, followed Zabala and Adoro in the same candle-lit room. As the last chorus nears conclusion, each of the Eraserheads are shown slipping away from Basco. In the next sequence, the four of them are dancing with Basco at the same time, but also ends up slipping away from her grasp. Sensing the futility of the situation, Basco declares "Ito na ang huling... El Bimbo" ("This is the last... El Bimbo") before collapsing.

Second bridge[edit]

Although Buendia catches her in time, the Eraserheads are seen mourning around the character of Basco lying lifelessly on the floor. The scene fades to black.

Third bridge[edit]

The camera pans down from the clear blue sky during the start of the video, to the Eraserheads on what seemed to be a rooftop, reminding the viewers that all scenes shown earlier are merely flashbacks. When the camera focuses on Buendia, he looks up and the scene was cut to an empty rooftop, briefly showing Adoro's arm as they walk away from the scene.

Instrumental and finale[edit]

The video cuts back to the Eraserheads presented in a worm's-eye view, looking down on what is suggested to be the grave of Basco's character. Each Eraserhead holds a paper in one hand and a piece of the broken record in the other. They each raise both hands as they read passages in succeeding order (not audible in the muted version):

Ang gabi ay nahulog (The night has fallen)

—Buendia

Ang araw ay OK (The day is OK)

—Adoro

Si Paraluman ay magaling (Paraluman is good)

—Zabala

Ang pag-ibig natunaw (The love melted away)

—Marasigan

They throw both the papers and broken records they hold in a grave heavily covered with leaves and starts walking away. However, during the instrumental's peak, Basco's character is shown rising from her grave, with her hands stuck as if she's holding her dance partner, her hair completely covering her face. At this point, albeit walking away, the Eraserheads freeze movement; without looking back on the grave, they are completely unaware of what's happening. She is slowly turning, and upon facing the Eraserheads, she tilts her head back to reveal her face. Flower petals starts showering on them.

Flashbacks of their younger selves are then shown in sepia tone, followed by a shot showing each of the Eraserheads' hands playing candidly on a piano. A young boy, portrayed as Basco's son, is shown picking up a sunflower before being approached by his mother. Basco proceeds to dance the El Bimbo with his son as the video fades in to the Eraserheads, their back still facing the graveyard which is now in flames. At this point, the Eraserheads unfreeze and resume walking away, oblivious of the flower petals raining on them.

As the video concludes, Basco is seen happily dancing the signature El Bimbo hand gesture all by herself. She makes three full movements before ending with a slow wave accompanied by a bittersweet expression. The video fades from black to a slightly illuminated word, "Wakas" (end/finish).

Video reception[edit]

At the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the video won the 'International Viewer's Choice Awards for Asia'. The video was up against "Kirana" by Dewa 19 of Indonesia, "Fun Fun Fun" by Joey Boy of Thailand, "Fanatik" by KRU of Malaysia, and "Family" by Lee Seung-hwan of Korea. The Eraserheads accepted the award themselves. The recognition was the first moonman award received by any Filipino artist, and further made the band known in Asia which paved way to the release of Aloha Milkyway. The following was the band's acceptance speech:

Salamat sa Diyos (Thanks to the Lord). Maraming salamat (Lots of thanks) to all the fans who voted for us. BMG Pilipinas. Aureus, our director. Robin, our producer. Our crew. MTV Asia. Our families and friends.

—Zabala

Mabuhay ang Noy-pi! (Long live the Filipino people!)

—Buendia ("Noy-pi" was a slang for Pinoy)

Bog-chi! (Let's eat!)

—Adoro and Marasigan ("bog-chi" was a slang for eating/food)

Covers[edit]

  • Rico J. Puno performed the song for the 2005 Eraserheads tribute album Ultraelectromagneticjam!: The Music of the Eraserheads.
  • Philippine punk rock band Kamikazee recorded an unreleased version of the song.[3]
  • Philippine group of singers The CompanY made a rendition of the song in 2008 with a music video[4] interpreted in a different way from the song's content.
  • Former South Border pianist Jay Durias performed the song for another Eraserheads tribute album, The Reunion: An Eraserheads Tribute Album, released in 2012.
  • Korean acoustic fingerstyle guitarist Sungha Jung performed the song during his "2013.6 Philippine Tour" concert.[5]

In other media[edit]

  • Buendia sang the song as a guest artist for a FilharmoniKA album, Kumpas: An Orchestral Celebration of Pinoy Music, which presented some of the signature alternative rock anthems of the '90s orchestrally.
  • A portion of the song was used by McDonald's Philippines for their commercial titled "First Love" in 2009.[6] The commercial used a trimmed version of the opening riff as a bespectacled young boy walks with his mother inside a McDonald's branch, assumed to be during the '70s, as indicated by the design and atmosphere of the set. An old friend of the mother happened to be in the same branch along with her young daughter. The opening lyrics ("Kamukha mo si Paraluman") plays as the young girl waves to the young boy and they sit in front of each other ("Nung tayo ay bata pa"). The music then cuts to the chorus as the girl dips her fries in chocolate sundae instead of the usual catsup. Afterwards, the girl reached out for the boy's hands and started to run, presumably towards a 'PlayPlace' ("Magkahawak ang ating kamay"). As the young girl runs, the video transitions to a grown-up lady, holding on to the hands of the grown-up, still bespectacled, man ("At walang kamalay-malay"). Leaving the man puzzled a few inches away, the lady run towards another man and a young girl near the 'PlayPlace', giving the viewers an impression that they are the lady's husband and daughter ("Na tinuruan mo ang puso ko na umibig ng tunay"). The next scene shows the bespectacled man seated in front of the lady and dips his fries in chocolate sundae, reviving a sweet memory of their youth and eliciting a sweet smile from the lady. Although not as poignant as the original story of the song, McDonald's was able to capture the emotions of the audience through the effective use of the song.
  • When local radio station NU 107 signed off for the last time on 8 November 2010, "Ang Huling El Bimbo" played as its final song.[7]

Impact and legacy[edit]

During the time of its release, local songs played in the radio averages 3 1/2 minutes of airtime. Eraserheads challenged this norm with "Ang Huling El Bimbo", demanding almost twice (07:29) the average airtime. Released during the height of the band's success, notwithstanding the use of simple chords and solid narrative, the song was an instant success and became synonymous with OPM. Since its release, the song has been a staple and one of the most anticipated songs of Eraserheads every time the band performs live. The band usually reserves "Ang Huling El Bimbo" as the final song to close their act.

The video accompaniment also changed the landscape of OPM music videos, a refreshing take of fleshing out the song's story presented in a short film-like production, instead of the usual artists lip syncing their songs on their best dress and appearance.

Because of the simplicity of the song's structure and chord progression, many local bands and artists—amateur and professionals alike—perform this song either as a cover or in their own renditions.[8]

The band's 'The Final Set' concert held on March 7, 2009 marked the first time the Eraserheads played the song live since their breakup in 2002.

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The RX93.1 Yearend Countdown". Archived from the original on 14 May 1998. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "1997 MTV Video Music Awards". Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "Kamikazee - Ang Huling El Bimbo". 16 August 2011. Dodong Mindanao. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "Ang Huling El Bimbo (music video)". 20 June 2008. Moy Ortiz. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "Ang Huling El Bimbo - Sungha Jung". 18 June 2013. jwcfree. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "McDonald's First Love Commercial". 13 January 2009. Franny Omampo. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "107 Candles for NU107: The Last Goodbye". 07 November 2010. Stompworks Studios. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "Ang Huling El Bimbo cover". Retrieved 12 August 2014. 

External links[edit]