MUSIC REVIEW

AKO AY PILIPINO
Review from ALL MUSIC GUIDE

www.allmusic.com

In 1994, Philippine independent Ivory Records released Ako Ay Pilipino, Vol. 1 (I Am a Filipino, Vol. 1), performed by Philippine female singer Kuh Ledesma. The album is part of a two-volume set originally released in 1983 on Blackgold Records, a now-defunct label under Vicor Music Corporation at the time. The project is a grand, sweeping showcase for Philippine music. Many songs on Ako Ay Pilipino, Vol. 1 are time-honored, popular evergreens. A number of songs feature an ethnic vibe, and many of the lyrics concern pride and a respect toward the Philippines. Kuh Ledesma sparkles throughout the album, and takes her place as one of the country's best singers. "Kay Ganda Ng Ating Musica" (Our Music Is Beautiful) is a pleasant, breezy song that extols the beauty of Philippine music. Considering that most Filipinos prefer American music instead of original Philippine music, as reflected in the country's album sales, this song makes a statement that needs to be heard. "Ethnic Variations" is entirely instrumental and features the playing of gongs. The impressive, "Narito Ang Eden" (Eden Is Here) contains several sections, and starts on a light-hearted folk ambience, which leads to the dramatic entrance of guitars and a horn section; Ledesma sings a heartfelt, dramatic melody here. The song also contains an easy listening section, after which gongs and blistering electric guitars join the proceedings. The album also contains a Mike Velarde medley, on which Kuh Ledesma sings the popular love songs of one of the Philippines' most respected composers. This is an important album, and is a welcome departure from the never-ending imitations of American songs and styles often performed by Philippine artists. David Gonzales


In 1994, Philippine independent label Vicor Records re-released Kuh Ledesma's Ako Ay Pilipino, Vol. 2 (I Am a Filipino, Vol. 2), the sister album to Ako Ay Pilipino, Vol. 1, both of which were originally released in 1983 as a two-volume set. The album contains a number of time-honored Philippine evergreens and is a musical statement of Philippine pride and achievement. In the Philippines, the audience often prefers American music instead of Philippine music, and this album presents a different, much needed perspective. Ledesma shines throughout the album and applies a poised, masterful touch. Most songs are written in a style that emphasizes quality and is reminiscent of such American songwriters as Cole Porter and Harold Arlen, but with an ethnic, Philippine edge. "Mahiwaga" (Mysterious) and "Bulong-Bulongan" (Gossiping), for example, are well-written songs, and Kuh Ledesma sings them with an intimate strength. The songs' lyrics are often intricate and meaningful, and go beyond the usual trite material heard on easy listening albums. "Mahal" (Love) tells of the beauty of the Philippine islands, while other songs tell of the relationship between life, nature, and love. "Handog" (Offering) tells the story of a performer who writes a song as a gift to his fans, and says that an entertainer's popularity fades away, but the song stays forever. "Ako Ay Pilipino" (I Am a Filipino) is an intense, passionate song that extols the virtues and pride of being Filipino. This is an important album, and more such albums are needed in the Philippines. David Gonzales


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