MANILA -- If you were in high school in the early 1990s, there's a big possibility you'll remember dancing with your first crushes during prom night to the tunes of “Maybe” and “Hold On.” Or after breakup, you’d drink the nights away strumming on a battered guitar "Kasalanan Ba," "Say You'll Never Go" and eventually “Tuloy Pa Rin.”
These original compositions from the band Neocolours can now be considered OPM classics, revived and recorded by young and veteran artists alike, including Noel Cabangon, Erik Santos, David Archuleta, Rachelle Ann Go, among others.
According to the band's keyboardist Jimmy Antiporda, Neocolors was formed on February 2, 1987, under the tutelage and guidance of veteran drummer Jun Regalado.
It was a big help that Regalado was also the father of their drummer Niño. The elder Regalado pushed them to write their own material and record their first album "Making It" in 1988.
"I composed most of the songs but our biggest hit was composed by Ito. Ito and I collaborated on some of the tracks," Antiporda told ABS-CBN News in an online interview, referring to the band's vocalist Ito Rapadas and the song "Tuloy Pa Rin."
It became the carrier single of their second album also titled "Tuloy Pa Rin" in 1990.
The message of the song about moving on would turn out to be everyone's battle-cry hymn for life's ups and downs, not only during heartbreaks. After releasing their third album, "Truth & Consequence" in 1992, they called it quits and pursued other careers in the music industry.
Prior to their upcoming reunion concert titled "Tuloy Pa Rin Ang Banda" on November 16, Saturday, at the Music Museum, band members Antiporda, Rapadas, Paku Herrera, Josel Jimenez, Niño Regalado and Marvin Querido have been performing a lot on television.
“It’s always good to reconnect with former bandmates, who have been like my brothers in this industry. More so for a band that has opened so many doors for us,” Querido said in an earlier statement.
In 2018, they launched a new single titled “Giliw."
“Most of us are still very active in the music industry as TV and concert music directors, record producers and executives, session artists, arrangers. Music continues to connect us even outside of the band,” Querido added.
Little do people know that before Neocolours, they were members of a boy band called Watercolors that was formed in 1984.
"Ito and I were part of that five-man vocal group," Antiporda told ABS-CBN News in a follow-up online chat. "We have a back-up band that included Paku Herrera, Niño Regalado and Josel Jimenez, who eventually joined us in Neocolours."
Behind the group was OPM legend Celeste Legaspi.
"She managed us for two years and got a team to give us workshops in performing. We also did front acts for her shows back then," said Antiporda.
We all know she’s the daughter of National Artist for Visual Arts Cesar Legaspi. It's tempting to think of a connection with some of her father's work that might have inspired the boy band's name. Then again, Legaspi told us there's nothing like that.
"What I remember is we came up with Watercolors because they were a young group of talented boys who would be singing and dancing," Legaspi told ABS-CBN News.
"When they moved on they chose to add a bit of newness and verve to the name which I personally thought was a good idea. Perhaps they also thought the name Watercolors was too feminine," she added, laughing.
While Legaspi gave them their first break, Jun Regalado honed them to become the musicians they aspired to be.
After Watercolors was dissolved, Jun decided to take them under his wings and reformatted the group as a recording band. Regalado, who is acknowledged as the most accomplished session drummer in the country, provided music mentoring and technical know-how inside the recording studio and on the performance stage.
Then again, you can't have the eggs without the mother hen.
For posterity's sake, here's an excerpt of our our short and sweet interview of Legaspi's involvement with the colorful boy band before Neocolours.
Q: So how and why did you form Watercolors?
Celeste Legaspi: It was the '80s and I was interested to know if I could put together and form a boy band. That would require a group persona, vocal harmonies, stage business, choreography, performing know-how.
My nephew Peter Dennis Legaspi sang well, was cute and was interested in singing and performing. He got his friends who had friends also interested in music. Chit Ramirez, Jimmy Antiporda, Ito Rapadas, Mark Lopez, Paku Herrera (who was Roger Herrera’s nephew) and Niño Regalado (who is Jun’s son and I was working often and closely with Jun and Roger for my concerts and performances abroad in the '80s-'90s).
We would rehearse in my house and would together choose songs they would perform. It was the '80s and they were kids so they performed energetically and with much gusto. I got my usual creative team involved in the mounting and marketing of the group and they were already doing shows in the school circuits. They were then named Watercolors.
But after maybe two years I could sense the boys were not truly happy doing that kind of performing and wanted something else. Plus, I was at that point truly involved in the creation and production of original Filipino musicals which began in 1987 with the initial production of 'Katy!' at the Rizal Theater.
So we amicably parted ways and some of them who were passionate about forming a group with the support of Jun proceeded to create the Neocolours. I always thought that was a good direction for them to take because truly they had much more to offer by way of excellent musicality and original music.
Q: Jimmy Antiporda told me that there were times the band served as front act in your shows. Kindly tell us your fondest memories with the band?
Legaspi: It was how adorable and hard working they were. This is what I fondly remember. That the audience would be screaming when they would sing.
Q: Did you encourage them to compose their own songs and help them out in churning out original materials?
Legaspi: This I can not take credit for. That’s all them. I hope what I imparted to them then was discipline and professionalism. Today they are considered among the very best in OPM. So... I would like to think that I did.
Q: Lastly, what is your message for them as they celebrate their 32nd year in a reunion concert at Music Museum?
Legaspi9: That I am very proud of them. I wish them even more years of good original music. That I consider them great examples of excellent Filipino musicians and authors that we can be very proud of to the world.
But most of all that they have grown up to be pillars of our Filipino music industry. Bravo and kisses to them all.
"Tuloy Pa Rin Ang Banda,” is directed by Frank Lloyd Mamaril with guests Jett Pangan, Nicole Asensio and Jamie Rivera.