"Sila lang ang bandang hindi Hari ng Sablay"
- Robert Javier, Musician, Producer, and Sound Engineer
It was January 7 of last year when I first heard the sad news. It came from a tweet from Sugarfree’s frontman, Ebe Dancel. He will leave his band. During that time, it was still unclear if the band is breaking up or its two remaining members, Kaka Quisumbing and Jal Tuguibao, will continue being a Sugarfree minus Ebe.
It was later confirmed in the succeeding days that Ebe Dancel would pursue a solo career and Kaka and Jal would do their own stuff. Sugarfree’s last weeks as a band were spent by doing farewell gigs on different bars and schools.
I was fortunate to watch one of their farewell gigs (which, unfortunately, my first time to watch them live) when they performed at the UPLB Feb Fair last February 17. 2011 (Technically, it was already February 18 when they performed). It was a ‘going back home’ performance for Ebe who was an alumnus of UP Rural High School. Together with hundreds of fans, I jumped to their opening song Kung Ayaw Mo na Sa Akin, I joined the crowd in singing Mariposa, and I screamed when they played the crowd-favorite Hari ng Sablay. It was a beautiful night of celebrating the music of Sugarfree. I went home that night with a smile, thankful for having watched Sugarfree live before they part ways; but with a heavy heart because the gentlemen who made the anthems of my College years, would play together for the last time in a few weeks’ time.
And so the inevitable happened. On March 1, 2011, at the Eastwood Central Plaza, Sugarfree bade goodbye to their fans with the farewell concert, Paalam Pilipinas. I was not able to attend the concert but thanks to Jam 88.3 (who played an important role to stage this one) who aired the concert live, I felt that I was also there, drenched in the ran, singing, and shedding a tear for my heroes.
During the entire concert, I stayed in my room, headset plugged to my ears, shutting the world. I also have a small piece of paper and a pen, scribbling the title of the songs from their set list. I did not let the other members of the household see me on the verge of tears. I sang. I cried. I smiled. After singing their last song Burnout, I told myself that’s it, we have lost another legend. Maybe because the members are too burned out and they need to rest. We never knew the exact reason of their breakup. It just happened. But at least, unlike others, they formally said goodbye. But as in all ending, there is a new beginning. Life must go on.
On August 1, 2011, five months after the farewell concert, Ebe Dancel released his debut album as a solo artist entitled Dalawang Mukha ng Pag-ibig. And as for the two (2) remaining members, Jal Tuguibao continued his studies while Kaka Quisumbing did his own stuff. I am hoping that the remaining two would resurface on the music scene but that thing is yet to happen.
From time to time, whenever I feel reminiscing the good old days, I still listen to Sugarfree. I have almost forgotten the farewell concert but not their music. I have almost forgotten the pain of my heroes’ breakup. It has been almost a year and Ebe is achieving great heights as a solo artist.
Earlier yesterday, while browsing the news feed of Facebook, I saw a post from AtTheWomb.com. the music hub of pelicola.tv, about the premiere of a documentary about Sugarfree’s farewell concert. And to add to my excitement, the premiere was yesterday (though they didn’t put the exact time). During the past months, I have resorted to the videos on YouTube to watch Paalam Pilipinas. But I told myself, there must be someone who documented the whole event. It must be shown for the benefit of thousands (or millions) of Sugarfree fans out there. I patiently waited (to the point of repeatedly refreshing the website) until they finally put up the videos at around 10:20 in the evening. And it was worth the wait.
Paalam Pilipinas: A Sugarfree Documentary, tells about the final moments of Sugarfree as a band - from the band members’ respective houses, to the soundcheck, to the events backstage before the concert, and up to the emotional final song Burnout. This is a documentary featuring how the band broke up and not why the band broke up.
The documentary is divided into four parts. The first part shows Ebe Dancel and Kaka Quisumbing at the start of the day. Kaka shares his experience on the band’s farewell tour while Ebe shows his preparations for the final show. The second part shows the soundcheck and Jal Tuguibao giving his thoughts on the band’s breakup. The third part shows Jal at his home and what his parents have to say about Sugarfree. It also shows the what was really happening backstage while the crowd was waiting for the concert. The fourth, and probably the most emotional part, shows Quark Henares giving introduction before the start of the concert (and the emotional happenings backstage) and the band’s final performance, Burnout.
I watched the documentary twice last night and the emotions I felt during the first time that I watched it was the same, if not more intense, than the first. It’s as if watching over a beloved on his deathbed. It’s as if seeing the love of your life for the last time. It’s as if losing a member of your family.
What moved me most, as what I have written above, was the last part. Though not the whole concert was shown in the film, it captured the emotional performance of the group. It also showed an emotional Ebe Dancel when he left the stage after the concert. But what broke my heart most (Spoiler alert!) were the lines ‘The band was immediately escorted out of the venue right after the show. They parted ways as soon as they were brought to their separate exit points. There was no after party’. With that, I broke into tears.
I am no film nor movie expert but I can say that the cinematography was good. It captured (almost candidly, which was good, in my opinion) the emotion of the members and the music fans very well. I also have a problem with the audio on some parts but to sum it up, the documentary captured the essential - how Sugarfree said their goodbye to the fans and how the fans were affected - and influenced - by their legacy.
This documentary is a must-watch not only for the die-hard Sugarfree fans but also to those who are affected, in a way, by their songs. Even Ebe Dancel jokingly offered this concert to those who illegally downloaded their songs. It shows us how to properly say thank you and goodbye to the people who supported us and help us be put at the top.
I was lucky to grow up with the songs of Sugarfree. I was lucky to be influenced by their music. Their songs were my anthem of my college years - the period of my life when I was discovering my passion for music. Their songs were simple and honest. They touch the lives of their fans. and in my opinion, that is what a music or a song is all about.
Sugarfree may have gone but their music is what keeps them immortal. Listening to their music will help us bring to the happy memories of being a Hari ng Sablay, having a good time at Mariposa, reminiscing our Prom, singing the lullaby Tulog Na, and telling to someone, Huwag Ka nang Umiyak.
Maraming salamat Direk King Palisoc at sa bumubuo ng AtTheWomb.com sa dokumentaryong ito.
Maraming salamat Ebe Dancel, Jal Tuguibao, Kaka Quisumbing, at Mitch Singson sa musika at alaala.
Maraming salamat Sugarfree.
Paalam Pilipinas: A Sugarfree Documentary - I know that you did not read this lengthy post so here’s the link of the documentary. Enjoy. Reminisce. And spread the word.
- Paalam Pilipinas: A Sugarfree Documentary - Blogger and music photographer Niña Sandejas writes about Paalam Pilipinas and her regret of not following the band as much as others did.
- Must Watch: Paalam Pilipinas: A Sugarfree Documentary (FHM.com.ph) - Director King Palisoc, in an interview with Gelo Gonzales, talks in detail about the documentary and the last days of Sugarfree.
- Paalam Pilipinas: A Sugarfree Docmentary (Teaser) - A sneak peek of the documentary from AtTheWomb.com. Of course.