MANILA -- Barbie Almalbis celebrated her 25th anniversary in the music industry with a concert titled "Firewoman: 25 Years of Barbie Almalbis" at 123 Block, Mandala Park at Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong.
The mini-music fest featured some of the country’s finest acts, including Sandwich, Gab Alipe of Urbandub, Clara Benin, I Belong To The Zoo, Kai del Rio, and Bird.
“It’s really a privilege to reach this milestone. I’m not so good [in] marking milestones, I keep forgetting. Parang I’m just so grateful lang that I still get to do music,” she said of her journey.
“And maybe one of the greatest blessings is that the people and the team that I get to make music with. It is really a lot of fun, a lot to collaborate, and I learn a lot from my bandmates, ganiyan, the whole team,” she added.
When asked about how she dealt with the challenges that came along the way, Almalbis pointed to her various bands.
“Well, band-life is life. These guys that I’ve been with bands with throughout the years, we grew up together practically, di ba? So ayun, kung anu-ano man mga life-challenges, [like] conflicts, and things like that, pinagdaanan naming lahat ‘yun.”
“But I’m so grateful that we built this relationship na hanggang ngayon may families na kaming lahat, but we’re still here, enjoying, and jamming with one another, being friends,” she beamed.
As she waited for her last set for the night, one leg over the other, Almalbis talked about her humble beginnings and how her music evolved from her first group to now.
“Well, in Hungry Young Poets, Ricci Gurango, our bass player, really was our band leader, so a lot of like the sound that we got was really directed by him. I was a songwriter; but in terms of the style and the sound, he was our guy who was ahead of us in terms of production and things like that,” she shared, mentioning Franklin Benitez as among her first band’s members.
“Then with Barbie’s Cradle naman, parang medyo mas na-introduce 'yung jazz, and we did a lot of jams with our bandmates. We became more playful with the songs na parang every gig iba 'yung areglo ng songs ‘cause we were always jamming the songs, and that was something we enjoyed as a band,” she noted on her next band stop that featured Rommel Dela Cruz, Kakoy Legaspi, and Wendell Garcia.
“And today, with my current band, with Karel [Honasan], Nikko [Rivera], and Jonard [Bolor], parang I think the things that I have learned from my previous bands, siyempre na-incorporate din sa sound[s] today, and which of course includes ‘yung inputs ng mga bandmates ko, kasi like I shared kanina, my three bandmates na are also musical directors, so all of them really have a lot to share with regard to arranging songs, [and] producing songs,” the Capiz-born singer said.
In line with International Women’s Month, the De La Salle University alumna also talked about the role of women in the music industry and how to represent it better.
“Definitely, we have a very unique perspective as women, and our voice matters, right? Also, 'yung music naman walang pinipili, everybody loves music. Everybody can play, can sing and make music… Wala namang gender na mas hiyang sa music kumbaga.”
“So, I think, maybe one thing that we can do is to support one another, like build a culture, especially ang mga women, di ba?”
“[Not] parang catfighting, or something like that. I think it takes faith, and also in a place that you are secure[d], na hindi mo tinitingnan ang success ng peer mo ay failure mo, parang ganun.”
“We really have to go out of our way to celebrate others, and support one another. I think it’s important for women to do that, actually, not just women, but since it’s women’s month.”
She then shared the beautiful bond she had forged with fellow female OPM artists.
“It’s something that I’m very grateful for with my friendship with the ‘Tanaw’ girls, sila Aia [De Leon], Acel [Bisa], Lougee [Basabas], Kitchie [Nadal], and Hannah [Romawac]. I also have other friends na musicians din na it means so much that we are supporting each other.”
“Ayun kasi pareho din kami ng struggles.”
Almalbis hopes to inspire positive change in the world through her music, whether that means staying put where she is right from the get go with God on her side.
“Well, I’m just gonna stay in my little corner, you know,” she said.
“I just wanna be faithful with the little corner that God has given me, and I just want to glorify Him in what I do, siguro nga, [with] the music, or as a person, kasi nga ultimately, He really is the source of goodness, and all these things.”
She went on with how thankful she is living her Christian life, giving back to God’s goodness through her music.
“For me it’s beyond the music, you know, I hope that our music reflects back on His love and His goodness,” as she hopes that her music reflects back on God’s love and goodness.
“And I’m so grateful for people supporting our music, even tonight, I didn’t really expect it. I said na minsan di ko na [naiisip] ang milestones. What happens tonight is really such a gift.”
“‘Di ko nga siya dream eh, kasi hindi ko dini-dream yung ganun, but it’s a dream come true that I didn’t even dare dreamt,” she laughed.
“It’s really a blessing that this happened, and people came to see the show. I’m so grateful.”
Almalbis readied herself for the final act.
She gathered herself, tweaked her wardrobe a bit, reassembled her instruments. Mic on and she gleefully greeted her fans.
The night grew deeper as she and her former band, Barbie's Cradle, serenaded songs that were sung along by the crowd in euphoria.