If there’s still any doubt about singer Noel Cabangon’s stature as among the icons of the Philippine music scene, let the executives of Widescope Entertainment convince you that he is. The man had just signed a contract with their Icons Music label, a special division that carries an elite list of signees whose track record, popularity, and relevance all point to them being deserving of the adjective “iconic.”
The folk singer is respected by peers and beloved by gig audiences. His voice captures the sentimentality of being a Filipino which if you analyze it, few are actually able to do despite the claim that Filipinos are natural singers. And then there’s “Kanlungan,” one of the best-sung folk ballads, with its massive popularity inspiring normal-looking, unassuming gentlemen with an acoustic guitar to make a try for themselves.
It’s cool news to have Cabangon begin a new chapter in his run, but what’s even more exciting is the song coming out as a result of this development. To be frank about it, he just recorded a track that is not just a piece to get the ball rolling. It is a single that should give him a legit hit in this era where the pre-pandemic atmosphere is getting back with a vengeance. Also, he wrote it himself, not by his underrated Buklod comrade Rom Dongeto.
The new Noel Cabangon song, “Kung Ako,” appears on digital stores by March 24 (Friday). Its chorus is as catchy as a pretty face you saw and fell for at first sight, with the lyrics echoing long in your ears along with its easy-listening melody.
“Kung ako’y ‘yong iibigin/ Araw-araw kitang susuyuin/ Kung ako’y iibigin/ Pangakong habang buhay kang mamahalin,” Cabangon sings, as you can sense he’s feeling good about it.
With his label being orchestrated by some made men, another icon, Widescope’s A&R manager Ebe Dancel, sat as the song’s producer, while Widescope president Vic de Vera and music and entertainment director Neil Gregorio backed them up as executive and supervising producers, respectively.
John Apura, who plays guitar and keyboards on the record, dealt with the arrangement, with Rommel de la Cruz and Paolo Manuel serving as the record’s rhythm section.
“The song is simply about the idea of winning the heart of the person that you’ve been pursuing,” said Cabangon, “And the promise of how you would want to give her that love back.”
“Kung Ako” was recorded at HBE Studio by Nonie Martinez, with Angee Rozul, another icon in the recording scene in his own right, as mixing engineer.
Cabangon’s colorful career began in 1987 when he formed Buklod with Dongeto and Rene Boncocan, singing songs on human rights, environment, and politics. “Tatsulok,” which became a mainstream hit after Bamboo covered it, is a Buklod original.
The La Union native, a recipient of several Awit awards, wrote a book called “Ang Bayan Ko at Lupa: Awit Ng Diwa.” He released numerous solo albums, too.
He opens his latest single with these words: “Kung ako ay papalarin/ Sa puso mong mailap sa akin/ T’yak na magniningning ang mga bituin/ At sasaya’ng may lumbay kong damdamin.”
Noel Cabangon, the singer, poet, and songwriter under Icons Music, is decidedly on a fresh start.