Jim and Boboy on the Danny the world didn’t see 2
“We went through the whole gamut of our Shakespearean play—comedy, drama, tragedy. Lahat dinaanan namin," says Jim of their friendship. Photo by Eddie Boy Escudero
Culture

Jim and Boboy on the Danny the world didn’t see: ‘When he gets it, he feels it, he goes for it’

Danny may come across as suplado, but the guy is actually a people person. “He loved talking with other people—he didn’t just stick to singers, musicians, and artists,” shares Boboy.
RHIA GRANA | Nov 06 2022

Danny Javier will go down in Philippine music history as one of its most prolific songwriters. And while his life recently reached its coda, everyone knows he will live on thru the songs he’s penned. How many of us have made “Awit ng Barkada” the anthem of our youth? Or listened to “Pumapatak Ang Ulan” to cheer us up during gloomy weather? Or dedicated “Pag-ibig,” or “Show Me a Smile,” or “Princesa,” or “Kumot at Unan,” or even “Di Na Natuto” to a loved one?

Danny’s discography covers a range of topics because most anything for the guy could spark a song’s beginning. 

“Danny is a very instinctive [songwriter],” says fellow APO member, Boboy Garovillo. He strung words together, be they English or Filipino, and made poetry. He wrote lyrics on table napkins, wrote while on a bus, anywhere. “He’s very fluid. Danny would say things in rhyme with a certain cadence,” Boboy adds. Which is remarkable, he says, because his friend is a true-blue Bisaya, having grown up in Leyte and Cebu.

APO Hiking Society. Photo by Eddie Boy Escudero
“Danny is a very instinctive [songwriter],” says Boboy. He strung words together, be they English or Filipino, and made poetry. Photo by Eddie Boy Escudero

Danny’s songs can come from a stream-of-consciousness moment, says Jim Paredes, another APO. “Pumapatak ang Ulan” just came to Danny like a gift. It was inspired by a movie shoot that kept getting canceled and their director’s reaction to it.

“Pumapatak na naman ang ulan sa bubong ng bahay 'Di maiwasang gumawa ng 'di inaasahang bagay”

“We were shooting the movie ‘Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising’ with Mike De Leon. Nasa Baguio kami nun,” Boboy remembers. It was 1977. “And every time it would rain, Mike would shout, ‘Pack up!’ Galit na galit. Danny would tell Mike, ‘Ano ka ba? Relax ka lang. Masyado kang intense.’” 

“Every time that happened, Danny would get the guitar and sing ‘Pumapatak na naman ang ulan.’ [So the song] is  the story about Mike’s reaction.” And the first line was meant to tease the director. The lyrics had “Laklak nang laklak ng beer magdamagan…” because they would always end up at De Leon’s Baguio home, drinking beer and killing time until the rain stopped. 

“It’s not a love song. It’s thoughts coming into his mind, which I think is really brilliant. Nobody has written a song anywhere close to that,” says Jim, himself a hitmaker whose list of self-penned classics includes “When I Met You,” “Panalangin,” “Batang-Bata Ka Pa,” “Yakap sa Dilim,” “Nakapagtataka,” and “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo.” Jim describes Danny as a very intuitive songwriter. Not the type who liked to spend a lot of time writing songs but “when he gets it, when he feels it, he goes for it.” He wanted the words to flow naturally. “You won’t get him to write a song this way… ‘Here are the lyrics. Here’s the topic. Can you make one right now?’ He’s got to have an intuitive grasp right away.”

And when Javier gets into the zone, “you have to capture the moment,” adds Jim, because the idea, the gems, will slip away, disappear forever. “[Danny] also sometimes forgets what he writes and then when he sings it again, medyo iba na. Kung patatagalin mo, or you put it behind and say, ‘I’ll think about it tomorrow,’ mawawala na yun. I think he gets into a song and just finishes it.”

The song “Lumang Tugtugin,” for example, about the joys of playing the folk songs we grew up with, was composed in roughly 20 to 30 minutes, at a lunch break during their stint as executives at JEM recording company—Danny was in charge of marketing and Jim was in charge of artist and repertoire (A&R). “When I got back to the room, he let me hear it,” recalled Paredes in a recent interview. “I told him, bukas i-record na natin ito, okey ito.” 

APO Hiking Society
When Javier gets into the zone, “you have to capture the moment,” says Jim. Photo by Eddie Boy Escudero

"Kahit saan ka man, ang awit ay naririnig Sari-saring magugustuhan, mga luma at bagong himig Ngunit isa lang ang aking gusto, isa lamang ang napapansin Masarap, madaling kantahin ang lumang tugtugin"

Danny was fond of writing songs that were lighthearted and funny. He liked to tickle the listeners’ imagination with words, as in the case of “Salawikain.” “He knows how to make a hook for the song para talagang mga dalawang dinig mo lang okey na e.”

"Kapag ang buhay mo'y malungkot, huwag kang sisimangot Kapag bulsa'y walang pera, daanin sa tawa Wala nang pera, sisimangot ka pa? La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la"

Danny had a knack for creating novelty songs, Jim says, but not the “gimmicky” ones, which usually don’t last long in people’s memory banks. “Ang gimmicky yung masyadong naka-tie up sa present na few months lang limot na.”

But while he’s great at writing happy songs, he’s also very proficient when it comes to sentimental and romantic lyrics. “[Danny] wrote ‘Show Me a Smile’ when he was with his first wife,” offers Boboy. “Some say he’s not a sweet, loving person. But he writes about sweetness; he knew how.”

And then there’s the song “Pag-ibig” and its poignant lyrics. Danny’s songs often evoke innocence but also a kind of maturity, and those two are present in this song about looking back on one’s first love. “Pakinggan mo ang lines,” Boboy says, “ang ganda-ganda.” 

"Hindi mo malimutan kung kailan nagsimulang Matuto kung papa'nong magmahal At 'di mo malimutan kung kailan mo natikman Ang una mong halik, yakap na napakahigpit Pag-ibig na tunay hanggang langit"

Danny wrote “Di Na Natuto” for a young Gary Valenciano, upon the request of Gary’s sister, Gina. But the songwriter found himself falling in love with the romantic ballad, so he also presented it to Jim and Boboy as something they could include on the album they were working on. But the two men were no longer in the mood to go back to the studio and record. It would, however, make it to their next album, and also become one of Gary’s greatest hits. 

"Isang ngiti mo lang At ako'y napapaamo

Yakapin mong minsan Ay muling magbabalik sa'yo

Na walang kalaban-laban Ang puso ko'y tanging iyo lamang"

APO Hiking Society. Photo by Eddie Boy Escudero
It was The Beatles who was Danny’s biggest music inspiration. The band was the reason he shifted from sculpture and painting to music. Photo by Eddie Boy Escudero

Late bloomer 

In the book “Himig at Titik, A Tribute to OPM Songwriters” authored by Tina Arceo Dumlao, Danny shared that he’s a self-taught musician who considers himself a late bloomer. He only started to pick up the guitar in his junior year in high school and started to write songs only in his college years at Ateneo. 

But he’s been a music lover since he was a kid. He discovered the Benny Goodman, The Lennon Sisters, and The McGuire Sisters thru an uncle’s vast record collection. Eventually, his interest in music deepened by listening to Bob Dylan, Paul Anka, Joni Mitchell and Peter, Paul and Mary.

But it was The Beatles who was Danny’s biggest music inspiration, he shared in the book. The band was the reason he shifted from sculpture and painting to music. He got hooked on the Fab Four during his high school years in San Beda. 

“Nagkawindang-windang ang buhay ko noon kasi wala na akong ginawa kundi isulat ang lyrics ng lahat ng kanta ng Beatles, alamin yung chords,” he told Dumlao.

Fast forward to his college years, Danny discovered that he shared this passion for Beatles music with the other members of this singing group he was hanging out with. Boboy tells ANCX it was in truth this group’s goal to be the Beatles of the Philippines.

APO Hiking Society. Photo by Eddie Boy Escudero
“We felt that our work was our gift to Filipinos because ang gusto namin ang soundtrack ng Filipino life was Filipino music,” says Jim. Photo by Eddie Boy Escudero

The early years

The Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society, which was later shortened to APO Hiking Society, was born in 1969 at the Ateneo High School with 15 members: John Paul Micayabas, Lito de Joya, Sonny Santiago, Gus Cosio, Renato Garcia, Chito Kintanar, Kenny Barton, Bruce Brown, Butch Dans, Kinjo Sawada, Ric Segreto Macaraeg, Goff Macaraeg, Doden Besa, Jim Paredes, and Boboy Garovillo.

On their freshman year in college, that’s when the group met Danny. Jim, Boboy and Danny found themselves in the same class. “He dropped out from UE before he got into Ateneo,” Boboy says. “When we introduced each other in class, [we realized that] he was a very good speaker. Sabi namin, ‘Sino ito?’” They were intrigued. And impressed.

Without knowing much about the new guy, they nominated him as president of the class. “Actually, na-good time nga siya ng barkada namin e,” Boboy adds, recalling one of the products of their youthful mischief. “[Sabi namin], ‘Let's give this guy a chance. Ano kaya ang kaya niyang gawin?’ Maski [si Danny] sabi niya after that, ‘Ano’ng ginawa nyo? Hindi n’yo man lang ko kilala ni-nominate n’yo akong president.”

The boys would later hang out at the Counselor’s Office. Their pastime: singing folk. That’s when they found out Danny was a folk singer. “We found out that he plays the guitar, he plays the banjo. We found out that he knows other singers from outside. Kasi he’s older than us,” says Boboy.

“He was always present where we were,” recalls Jim of Danny. “Before we knew it, grupo na kami.” 

The group would perform in campuses, with three, six, or seven members (some guys left along the way, off to pursue their own dreams). “Whoever was available, we’d perform in UP, Miriam College, or in other schools,” shares Boboy. “That was college life.” 

APO Hiking Society
They tag-teamed in everything, which included throwing witty spiels and punchlines in shows, concerts, interviews. Photo from IMDB

And then there were three

Asked about their dynamics as a trio, Jim says he would always tell people, “We were three Clark Kents, but when we got together, we were Superman.”

There were no designated roles for each APO. “Democratic kami e. Galit nga kami sa diktador,” Boboy says. “Pantay-pantay kami parati. Kaya in most of our interviews, we said that when we formed the group, we didn't even have a contract of being together.”

They didn’t need one. Onstage, people saw the bond, the chemistry, the give and take.

They tag-teamed in everything, which included throwing witty spiels and punchlines in shows, concerts, interviews. 

“Danny and Boboy are considered funny. But actually a lot of the funny stuff ako nag-imagine nun,” Jim says. “Tapos pinapasa ko sa kanila kasi when we play with it, it becomes a team effort. So I always say, I’d pass the ball to Danny, Danny dribbles it and passes it to Boboy, and Boboy dunks it. Or vice versa—I’ll pass it to Boboy, Danny dunks it. I was more like a behind-the-scene guy.” Sometimes, after Jim comes up with a dialogue, they would would flesh it out as a group until they land on the funniest bit.

APO Hiking Society.
“We were three Clark Kents, but when we got together, we were Superman,” says Jim of their dynamics as a trio. Photo from IMDB

Danny up-close

Danny may come across as suplado, but the guy is actually a people person. “He loved talking with other people—he didn’t just stick to singers, musicians, and artists,” shares Boboy. “When he’d meet somebody who works in business, let’s say a stock broker or a banker, he’d love to sit down and talk things with that person.”

There’s more: “Danny is what you might call a craftsman. And he admires people who are good in their craft. If he meets a painter, he will talk about painting. If he meets a banker, he will talk about banking, and he would you like to learn what makes this person good at what he does.”

This is why in the last 20 years, unknown to many, the guy served as consultant to a number of different companies. “Although he was not really into that particular line, he had ideas of what they were doing. He could always help because that's the way he thinks, ‘Give me your problems and let’s see what needs to be done.’ He’s like that in a way,” Boboy offers.

Danny always looked out for the poor. “Danny can go downtown and talk to the tricycle driver, the jeepney driver. He’s really makatao. Siguro he felt he came from [their ranks].” 

As a friend, Danny was very thoughtful. Boboy remembers one of their trips to the US, when Javier bought 45 units of Elmo dolls. It’s a doll that laughs, stands, and jumps around on its own, so he thought it would be fun to give all his inaanaks and close friends one. And for three days, they scoured several Toys R Us branches in the US to gather all the Elmos they can find. They emptied each box to fit all the dolls in one balikbayan box. “Sa Manila na lang ulit natin i-box,” Danny told him.

His wit didn’t only show in songs but in daily interactions. Jim recalls a Danny conversation with a Hong Kong immigration officer, when the group went to HK after the 1986 People Power Revolution.

At immigration, the officer asked Danny, “What is your occupation?” 

“I’m a hero,” Danny said, and brought out a copy of Mabuhay magazine from Philippine Airlines. He pointed to an article where the APO Hiking Society was featured as heroes of the revolution. “Pinakita niya. ‘See? That’s me.’ Natuwa sa kanya yung immigration officer,” says Jim. “Normally, masusungit ang mga ‘yan.”

APO Hiking Society.
“Danny is what you might call a craftsman. And he admires people who are good in their craft," says Boboy. Photo from IMDB

End zone

The APO released at least 200 songs and 27 albums in its nearly 50 years of being together. Their last performance as a trio was at the inauguration of Pres. Benigno Aquino Jr. on June 30, 2010. It was also around this time when Javier announced his retirement from the music scene. 

But despite the breakup, the three always treated each other like brothers. “Some people may think that Danny was not a loving person because he’s not demonstrative. But we wonder why he cared so much about other people. He cared about plants and trees. He cared about fish. He cared about so many other things. So some people think, ‘Why doesn't he care for me?’ I think ganoon si Danny, you have to understand him. Kung ano ang needs niya,” says Boboy.

“I have one of his favorite songs na ginawa niya na hindi naman naging kilala. The line goes, ‘I don't need anything in this world. I don't need shoes. I don't need sneakers. I don't need new clothes. I just need something that only you can share. I just need care.”

A month before Danny was rushed to the ICU, he and Boboy had a chance to talk. “I went to his house. Nagkuwentuhan kami. Kasi ang dami niyang ginagawa e. May mga ibon siya, may mga bonsai. Nagpatayo pa siya ng aquarium. He kept himself busy even if he got sick.” 

He also kept taking about the “end zone.” 

“I'm actually ready [to go], but of course I don't want to go,” Boboy remembers his friend telling him. Danny remained a fighter until the end, and continued to be the same caring, thoughtful friend they knew. “He kept calling people from all over the world. Anybody who comes up in his mind he would call. Mangungumusta lang.”

Both Jim and Boboy had a chance to see their friend one last time at the ICU. “I would always get his hand and just kiss it. [I said] ‘Love you, bro. Love you bro.’ Then I held [Danny's] face pa, and I kissed him on the forehead and I said [a line], from The Beatles song," Paredes recalled in the eulogy he delivered for his friend. "You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.”

“We had so many memories. Too many,” Jim tells ANCX. “We went through the whole gamut of our Shakespearean play—comedy, drama, tragedy. May elements ng suspense, liberation, sorrow. Lahat dinaanan namin. But I will always remember na we totally relied on each other’s talent. We were good for each other, most of the time, I think.”