Hotdog: An enduring legacy of OPM hits

By Peter Osias, The Philippine Star

Posted at Nov 21 2011 08:24 AM | Updated as of Nov 21 2011 04:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Hotdog, the Pinoy pop rock band that pioneered the Manila Sound in the ’70s, was formed at a crucial time when Filipino music was virtually in limbo and hardly figured in the musical consciousness of fans.

The local music industry was then dominated by foreign acts playing disco and funk tunes and local artists were content with performing covers and imitations of imported hits to remain visible and relevant.

With Manila Sound, Hotdog transformed the musical landscape with a refreshingly new and authentic Pinoy tune that immediately captivated millions through a string of delightful and exuberant songs featuring catchy lyrics in Tagalog and Taglish that reflected the moods and sentiments of ordinary Filipinos.

Defying the formidable challenges of foreign hits ranging from pop to rock to hip-hop to jazz, Hotdog’s songs have endured through the years and remained a shining touchstone for the best and the finest in Original Pilipino Music (OPM).

Thousands of OPM fans will get another rare glimpse into Hotdog’s brilliant musical legacy when the legendary group stages a reunion concert on Dec. 1 at the PICC Tent, Cultural Center Complex, Pasay City.

Dubbed as Hotdog: The Reunion, the one-night musical event will reunite the original Hotdog members who helped catapult the band to the top of the charts in the ‘70s: Dennis Garcia (founder and bassist); Rene Garcia (lead guitarist and vocalist); Jess Garcia (drummer); and Gina Montes, Maso Diez, Joy Reyes, Rita Saguin-Trinidad and Nadia Moore, all former vocalists at various times.

The group will treat concert-goers to two entertaining hours of the celebrated Manila Sound with an array of hits, such as Ikaw Ang Miss Universe Ng Buhay Ko, Bongga Ka, Day, Annie Batungbakal, Pers Lab, O, Lumapit Ka, Manila, Beh, Buti Nga, Panaginip, Bitin Sa Iyo, Langit Na Naman, Careful, Careful, and many more.

The repertoire will also include numerous songs that Dennis Garcia composed for other artists but were overshadowed by the success of the band’s chart-busters, including Sa Isip Ko, Saan Ka Na Kaya Ngayon?, B.A.D.A.F. Forever, Ayayayyy Boracay, Kung Aminin Kong May Asawa Na Ako, Dying To Tell You, When The One You Love Is Gone, Kulang and Parang Robot.

Formed by brothers Dennis and Rene Garcia in 1974, Hotdog crashed the music and concert circuit at a time when fans’ musical taste and preference were heavily influenced by imported acts playing trite disco and funk tunes, as Pinoy groups — though highly-talented — were relegated to doing covers and cheap imitations of foreign hits to remain relevant.

Hotdog became an instant sensation when it launched its distinctive sound that came to be known as Manila Sound, an original Pilipino music distinguished for exuberant songs that featured catchy, captivating lyrics in Tagalog and Taglish that directly appealed to the ordinary Filipino listeners’ everyday moods and sentiments.

Through Manila Sound, Hotdog succeeded in revolutionizing the formal and stilted music scene that led to the establishment of a new and lasting identity for mainstream Filipino music and blazed the trail for OPM to take root and flourish from the late ‘80s onward.

Its rise to musical stardom has been phenomenal. Its songs — all written by Dennis and Rene Garcia — became smash hits, topping the local charts from the mid-’70s to the mid-’80s and remaining at the forefront of the most recognized and acclaimed tunes in popular Filipino music.

Hotdog has released more than three dozen hit singles that eventually attained gold and platinum status.

One of its big hits, Bongga Ka, Day (1974), reaped greater success when it spawned a motion picture of the same title featuring the band, together with a stellar cast composed of Fernando Poe Jr., Joseph Estrada, Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos and Boots Anson-Roa in cameo roles.

Another hit that was turned into a successful movie starring Nora Aunor was Annie Batungbakal, which was about the story of a disco-loving saleslady.

Another popular song, Manila, a tribute to the capital city, has become an anthem of millions of Filipinos working overseas who continue to long for their native land.

On July 21, 1974, Hotdog hogged the international limelight when it performed as featured artist during the proclamation rites of the Miss Universe beauty pageant, serenading the contestants with its hit song, Ikaw Ang Miss Universe Ng Buhay Ko, at the Folk Arts Theater of the Philippines (now Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas) before a worldwide television audience.

Hotdog disbanded in the mid-’80s when its members decided to pursue individual interests but regrouped in 1988 for a reunion concert at the Rizal Theater in Makati City before it was torn down to give way to the redevelopment of the Ayala Commercial Center.

After 23 years, the band members performed together again at a concert last May 16 before a sell-out audience at the grand ballroom of the Dusit Thani Manila Hotel in Makati City, followed by a repeat performance on July 26 at the same venue which turned into another success.

(Tickets to the concert are priced at P3,000, P2,000 and P1,500 and are available at Ticketworld outlets. For details, call Ticketworld at 891-9999.)