Picture this: It’s September. The overcast sky parts ways to reveal the clarity of vast blue, with rays of sunshine peering through the foliage of the Academic Oval. Trundling through the sidewalk, you notice all this and wonder if there’s a soundtrack that will carry you through to your first class.
Well … we can’t see us all doing this now, what with this little thing called a pandemic, but what we can give you are the jams and bops so that you can experience the magic, frisson, and spirit of UP Diliman – right in your own home!
“Minsan” by Eraserheads
Lead singer Ely Buendia wrote this classic about his time as a resident at the famed Kalayaan Residence Hall, the dormitory for freshies. In it he yearns for the relentlessness of college life and the value of forming lifelong friendships. This is an expected, of course, for freshies from outside Quezon City and the metro cooped up together for a year inside a “home away from home” built for them.
The song sets people up on a journey of college living, through shared struggles and moments of pure joy, through to the inevitability of diverting paths, all through the eyes of someone who has seen it all. Just don’t talk to Buendia about it though.
“Bukang-Liwayway” by Munimuni
Munimuni is an indie folk-pop band formed in UPD, and who have made a veritable reputation for themselves with a mature-sounding but accessible discography. Their debut EP, “Simula,” released in 2017, is a confident first volley into the realm of Filipino indie music, made by Adj Jiao, John Owen Castro, Red Calayan, TJ de Ocampo, and Ian Tumaliuan.
The EP is both epic and intimate, at times confident and then vulnerable in others. This opener is an affirming declaration to face the day, featuring an irresistible chorus and hook that almost deceives you into thinking it’s bog-standard contemporary Manila rock until the band’s trademark flute comes in – perfect for “releasing your little body” from a rough all-nighter, or any straining pressure and darkness.
“Ride Home” by Ben&Ben
It’s staggering to see the rise of the twins and their company go in leaps and bounds since That Time They Played Every Night In The UP Fair, the annual university festival. But who could blame the festival programmers, or anyone who dares delve into their discography after being captivated by their tracks online or on the radio? The two Bens are hit machines.
Their first single “Ride Home” speaks of finding comfort and belonging in someone. In university, this could be many people – a friend, a lover, an org, a professor, or a taho vendor – and this helps one surrender and fall into the warmth of someone’s loving embrace.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the sheer scale and ambition of the song almost feels like the mud and dirt of the Sunken Garden is creeping up your sandals after jumping and headbanging so hard.
“Minimize” by B.P. Valenzuela
There’s always this fantasy of meeting The One in college. The freedom of youth, the pressure of life, and the desire for affection and company can make this search much more pertinent. But once you have your sights set on Your Person, and the sparks fly – holy moly, does it take up space in your mind all day.
Singer-songwriter B.P. Valenzuela croons in this synth-laden track, both craving and feigning resistance against a fleeting romance, falling short of pleading and begging the other person to reciprocate the singer’s calls. For lonely nights or days of seeming distance, this track hits exactly right.
“Tadhana” by UDD
Just as its thumping chorus pleads for a paramour to reciprocate the singer’s yearning, it begs a listen every time the Capacities album version’s introductory synth pulses come on. Imagine sitting down in the hallways of the buildings in campus or the benches around the Academic Oval and becoming overcome with the desire for someone as this comes on.
No UDD performance in UP Fair is complete without this song on the setlist, or Armi Millare and the band risk coming off stage to calls for them to play it from the packed hordes of people from UPD and beyond who’ve come to see them. An undeniable classic.
“Laro” by Autotelic
Love is fickle. There’s only four years to a standard undergraduate degree (best-case scenario), a brief time to cultivate and develop a strong relationship. Most falter under the illusion of long-lasting romance, but others choose to embrace the uncertainty of it all.
“Laro” looks at love as game – there’s high stakes, deception, victory, and loss. UP Fair mainstays Autotelic sing also of the impermanence of love, and how it could be good to take pleasure in the comfort of now, and not worry about what might happen.
“Upuan” by Gloc 9 and Jeazell Grutas
UP Diliman is flanked by communities of residents who’ve lived on the property for decades. For a university with the public character of being servants to the nation’s masses, one finds irony in this curious condition, as the better off of the student body enter campus while being driven on their SUVs.
Have an ear for this admittedly groovy missive of the elite and one realizes that there is a need for all this inequity to end. Gloc 9 reminds us of the sheer power and strength required to tear down the high walls that continue to tamp down on the poor.
“Gatilyo” by BLKD
Made in both the strong countercultural tradition and level of research that UP is known for, BLKD likened making the album that this title track is a part of to that of authoring a research paper on the ills of Philippine society. The battle rapper is a graduate of the Community Development program, and this song employs both his experiences in creative writing and theater as well as the requisite CSWCD grounding to create a criticism of the friction in the national social structure.
And it shows: the short track is clear in its motive and goes off stronger than any other contribution of this nature from rappers even far beyond his level of fame.
“Historical” by Pinkmen
Pinkmen, a Diliman-based alternative folk-rock band, are known for their fun and jauntry musicmaking and captivating live performances. This latest single, made under quarantine, sees the band in their most delirious, touching upon the national identity, the damages on gig musicians wrought on by the pandemic, and government corruption. All of this is wrapped up in a funky, catchy tune that makes you want to see them live.
“UP Naming Mahal” from Lean, A Filipino Musical by Gary Granada
Let’s be honest: UP Naming Mahal is a HUMDINGER of an anthem for a unique institution. But it can be gratingly self-serving and self-aggrandizing – not too aligned with the character of the Iskolar ng Bayan today.
Gary Granada reworked this track for the musical about the slain student leader and activist Leandro Alejandro, who was assassinated in 1987, after protesting the military’s growing sphere of control in the regime of Cory Aquino. Granada shifted the tone of the lyrics to that of selfless service to the country and the inextricable link between the university and the masses.
Honorable Mentions (aka International Aisle)
“Going Away To College” by Blink-182
Ever recall that feeling of having a high-school sweetheart and regretting that you have to part ways before university? Yeah, same.
“Your Type” by Carly Rae Jepsen
This underrated pop classic, about the stresses of unrequited love, will make you want to blast it in the aforementioned SUV you came to school with, or experience being turned down at Today x Future and crying at the goto shop after
“The Less I Know The Better” by Tame Impala
Sometimes, our big brains can’t handle everything we’re being taught, and we wish we were in one of the other universities. /hj
“Hello, Sunset” by Red Velvet
Nothing beats looking at the sky at 5 in the afternoon facing the Main Library at the Sunken Garden. Unless it’s overcast, in which case go home.
“Dancing On My Own” by Robyn
See: comments for “Your Type”.
Listen to more songs from our Welcome to Diliman playlist!