*a repost of my Feb. 6, 2011 column in the Cordillera Today
“…Where to, well, nobody knows...” For those born in the early 70’s, it was the time of transition from being clueless teen-agers to angsty young adults. At the time that band called Fra Lippo Lippi filled the local airwaves, the lyrics in our heads were, “wake me up before you go-go,” “children behave – that’s what they say when we’re together,” or “gotta catch a plane at 7:30.” For the lanky 17-year olds in our neighborhood at the time, reciting the poetry (because we sang them out of tune) of this new band meant the end of being a kid and the beginning of being mature, grown up. Naks, as we used to say. Of course we never knew what Fra Lippo Lippi’s lyrics really meant. But we sang our hearts out anyway. The band’s name is also the title of a mid-19th century dramatic monologue by Robert Browning. With “Fra Lippo Lippi,” the Victorian poet paints a portrait of real life painter, Filippo Lippi, who faces the Augustinian conflict of whether to live “a religious life committed to the Church or a life of leisure.” The monologue also poses the question of whether art should show a real or an idealized image of life – Rent or Mary Poppins, an Amorsolo or a Bose, “if you’re not here by my side” or “die everyday to be free.” The song, “Light and Shade,” became a hit in the Philippines in 1987. The chorus told us to “Sail on the wings of a cloud / Where to, well nobody knows” and to “cry, cry if you want them to see / Die every day to be free.” “Be proud to wear the colours that you call your own Be loud, speak out when you want the world to know Be strong, hold the flame for everyone to see Be real, if you want to love” Nice. For us, it was a fitting introduction to the real-life angst-filled decade that was to follow – the 90’s when no one ever bothered to tell us “life was going to be this way / Your job’s a joke, you're broke, your love life's D.O.A. / It's like you're always stuck in second gear / And it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, / or even your year.” The time when, with one hand in our pocket, we asked what if God were one of us? I missed their sold out concerts in Manila back in the late 80’s, but two decades later, they’re back. Well, he’s back – since only the lead vocalist, Per Øystein Sørensen, is. It will be nice to revisit those lyrics now that most of us have gone through so much more than doing head spins and slam dancing after bottles of The Bar. Presented locally by Jenny Manansala-Bautista of Waltrix Productions, Sørensen takes us back in time on February 12 at the UB Gym. I’ll be there, with kids in tow, it’ll be nice for them to hear the songs we sang when we were their age. And perhaps this time around, when we sing, “He will paint the endless sea / A mystery to me,” I’ll have a better idea about what’s it all about.