When Chickoy Pura performed solo in a folk music bar -- without his seminal punk rock band from the 1980s, The Jerks -- you’d think that he’d lost his fire.
However, before and in between sets at My Brother’s Mustache in Quezon City on the last Thursday of 2017, Pura waxed passionate about his “political awakening” from the music of The Clash as well as Bob Dylan.
“The Clash,” Pura paused to measure his words, “mixed punk rock with reggae, dub, and politics. Para siyang Molotov cocktail in terms of music.” A dangerous mix indeed.
“Dylan wrote songs that became the anthems of the anti-war movement of the 1960s,” he added in the same breath.
In spite of the effect that the Clash and Dylan had on a younger Pura, the early music of The Jerks had a more fun bent -- the foibles of youth if you will. “Fun times. Maybe harmless fun, yes,” mused Pura.
If you think one gets mellower as one gets older, that is not the case with Pura. He wrote “Rage” that mentioned the Mendiola massacre and misery of Smokey Mountain. During the former administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he wrote “The Storm” that takes shots about corruption among others. Then after what he terms as seemingly interminable “writer’s block,” he found the fire to write “Sa Madilim na Sulok ng Kasaysayan” which pulls no punches about the plight of the Lumads in Mindanao.
“I saw a documentary about the Lumads that told their story of social injustice, killings, and the threats upon their culture and I was moved, deeply moved,” related Pura. “And I found the inspiration to write something.”
Whether it is a Bob Geldof moment where a fading Irish rock star’s efforts to generate support for the people of Ethiopia who were hit hard by famine saw the world come together for the massive Live Aid and We Are the World movements, it is too early to tell.
But it has gotten notice.
“I posted it online,” told Pura. “It was a rough version and Raymund Marasigan saw it. He got in touch with me and we discussed it. And Buddy Zabala joined in too. The only thing I told Rayms was to make sure the arrangements do not drown out the words of the song.”
With the Bo Diddley syncopated beat, “Sa Madilim na Sulok ng Kasaysayan” has that feel of Irish band U2’s “Desire” that likewise used the former’s style of guitar playing. “I love what Rayms brought to the song,” Pura noted. “Beautiful. Just beautiful.”
The result is a powerful song that pulls no punches.
“Sa madilim na sulok ng kasaysayan.
Nakatambak ang mga katawan.
Mga impit na hagulgol at iyakan.
Katabi ng puntod ng katarungan.”
And that’s just the first verse.
“Take what you will from the song,” he said rather proudly.
For now, Pura plays it whenever and wherever he performs complete with a spiel about the Lumads. It’s also on YouTube.
“I’d like to do an album, but I will play it by ear. Slowly. I will see what happens,” he said
He knows that the song could receive some backlash from pro-government citizens or even its guardians but Pura doesn’t mind. “It is the truth anyway. It isn’t like I am making this up. Rather than criticize people should look into their situation,” he added.
Other Pinoy Rock icons have also gotten their licks in. Nowadays, the Wuds sing their classic “At Nakalimutan ang Diyos” with more passion and ferocity while frontman Bobby Balingit wears messages on his clothing. Dong Abay is in an ornery mood with his new album “Humanidad.”
“Rage,” “Reklamo,” “The Storm,” and now “Sa Madilim na Sulok ng Kasaysayan.” One of the pioneers of Pinoy punk now an elder statesman for Pinoy rock or OPM has found his inner Clash even if it is more than three decades later.
“You just have to do it. If I have to do it then I have to do it.”
As his words to a Jerks classic goes, “But I’ll go not gently into the night. Rage against the dying of the light. Sing a song about this terrible sight. Rage until the lightning strikes. Go not gently, go not gently, go not gently. And rage with me.”