Gary Valenciano remembers the first time Danny Javier approached him to point out something that had been missing early in his career in the 1980s.
“He said to me, ‘You know you have hits like ‘Hang On’ and ‘Reaching Out’ and all that, but you need a Tagalog song, Gary!’ Although I knew who he was, I didn’t know him that well then so I thought, ‘Ang yabang naman nito’,” Mr. Pure Energy recalled.
And then one of the three founding members of the Apo Hiking Society started pitching him a song he had just written called “Di Na Natuto”.
“You know how Danny is. He told me, ‘Gary, this song is going to catapult you into the hearts of the masa. I’m telling you, you sing this, we’ll have it arranged by Menchu Apostol and for sure, it will be a hit,” Gary V continued.
“Nung kinanta niya, hindi pa ako masyadong na-impress. Kase everytime he sings a part, he would explain it like, o tapos, ganito. I just told him, why don’t you sing the whole song first then explain later?,” he went on.
“But Danny knew exactly what he wanted. He knew the arranger and how the song would flow. When I entered the studio and recording began, I thought, Oh, this is exactly what he meant.”
“Di Na Natuto” became one of the biggest hits of Gary V’s career. But that is not just the reason why he accepted the role of Nick Fuentebella for Chris Martinez’s “I Do Bidoo,” a musical full-length feature film based on the music of the Apo Hiking Society.
“Even before ‘Di Na Natuto,’ I’ve always loved the music of Apo,” he revealed. “To be honest, there’s something about the Apo when they perform the songs, they have a certain way of expressing themselves that transcends generations, whether you’re 26 or 36 or 46 or 56.”
Gary revealed that back in his Kundirana days at De La Salle University, he used to practice to Apo tunes, particularly the romantic ballad, “When I Met You.”
“I’d sing that song in the hallway and I would ask, ‘Okay ba?’ to my classmates who were there, And they’d say, Gary, can you sing it a little louder? And it would reverberate in the whole hallway. That was like my practice song before I go school,” he fondly admitted.
When “I Do Bidoo” was first offered to him, Gary was excited about the project but did not immediately commit to doing it, recalling scheduling issues that hampered the making of some of his past films. A talk with the Apo’s Jim Paredes, however, cemented his involvement.
“Jim and I were both in the Elements camp for songwriters and performers in Dumaguete last year and he was talking to me about it na,” Gary said. He asked, hey Gary, are you gonna do it? That’s when I said, I think I am then we later saw each other in the first press conference and gathering of artists announcing the film.”
A brainchild of Unitel Productions head Tony Gloria, who like Gary is a longtime Apo fan, “I Do Bidoo” is a joint production of Unitel and Studio 5.
The film tells the story of poor boy Rock Polotan (Sam Concepcion) whose romance with rich girl Tracy Fuentebella (Tippy Dos Santos) results in an untimely pregnancy, setting up an epic battle of wills between their respective parents (Ogie Alcasid and Eugene Domingo as the Polotans and Gary Valenciano and Zsa Zsa Padilla as the Fuentebellas).
As the Fuentebella couple, Gary and Zsa Zsa make a lot of beautiful music together in the movie. But unlike Ogie and Eugene’s much-talked about “daring bed scene,” Gary only gets to peck Zsa Zsa on the forehead. That’s just about as much as the production team could secure permission from Gary’s manager, who happens to be wife Angeli.
But more than its plot and its powerhouse cast, the biggest stars in “I Do Bidoo” are, of course, the timeless classics of Jim Paredes, Boboy Garrovillo and Danny Javier, collectively known as the Apo Hiking Society.
Among the songs sung by different characters in the film are “Pumapatak Na Naman Ang Ulan,” “Doo Bidoo” “Syotang Pa-class,” “Awit ng Barkada,” “Panalangin,” “Tuyo Nang Damdamin,” “Mahirap Magmahal,” “Salawikain,” “Nakapagtataka,” “Blue Jeans,” “Kaibigan,” “Huwag Masanay Sa Pagmamahal,” “Ewan,” “Paano,” “Pag-ibig” and “Kabilugan ng Buwan”.
One Apo song Gary particularly enjoyed doing in the film is “Batang Bata Ka Pa,” which he admits is one of his all-time favorites.
“I think that song is a reflection of who I am,” he confessed. “It was very nice to be able to sing that and hopefully kids and parents alike will see how we did it.”
And of course, there’s “Di Na Natuto,” a song that continues to mean a lot to him.
“After Di Na Natuto became a hit for me, Jim Paredes later came to me and said, you know, that was supposed to be our song but Danny gave it you and I just said, Sorry ha,” Gary said, sheepishly smiling.
Asked why he never got to work again with the Apo after “Di Na Natuto,” Gary said the Apo became more in demand as performers after the EDSA Revolution so opportunities for another collaboration did not present itself. He is not, however, closing the door on singing another new song by Danny or even Jim in the future.
“Danny said he wanted to write another song for me in the mold of ‘Kumot at Unan’ but I can get another song from them naman in the future. Who knows?”
Directed by Chris Martinez, “I Do Bidoo Bidoo: Heto nAPO Sila” is produced by Unitel Productions and Studio 5 and will open on Aug. 29.