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Dong (left) and Onie of Pan: Take a bow!

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Dong Abay's Pan: Another Gem
January 16, 2003
Philippines - Once in a while, a musical genius like Dong Abay comes along, makes it big, takes a different turn along his journey and drops out of the scene, and then -- fortunately for music buffs! -- decides to return like a resounding echo. That, in brief, is how his new band Pan came about, soon after Dong realized in 2001 that he wanted to write songs anew.Dong, of course, is better known as half of the brilliant songwriting tandem (together with guitarist Eric Gancio) that made the folk-punk band Yano, along with bassist Onie Badiang, a household name."Banal Na Aso,""KumustaNa?", and"Tsinelas"are just some of the hits that helped make their eponymous debut album turn quadruple platinum in 1994.The pressure of instant fame took a toll on Dong, however. For almost half a decade, he grappled with clinical depression in the four corners of his gloomy bedroom. Much of that episode, a phase Dong describes as living"inside my head,"now remains a blur.Happily, he came out of the experience with materials for new songs set into poetry, as Dong turned to writing for his salvation during that bleak period. That much Dong came to appreciate when he sought out Onie, who remained a dear friend, to borrow a guitar and jam. As they played, the twosettled on recording the songs and forming a new band, which Dong elected to name after the Greek god of prophesy, of nature (meadows, forests, beasts, and even human nature), of beekeeping, and of pastures, flocks, andshepherds, usually represented as having the legs, horns, and ears of a goat.Why did Dong choose Pan?"Besides finding his character interesting, Pan is a catchy name to which people can ascribe any meaning,"he explains."It can refer to anything from skillet or even the average man's daily breakfast fare -- bread -- in Filipino, for example."In fact, Dong couldn't have picked a better name for the band: Pan, after all, was also a god of music, playing upon the reed pipes he made from the transformed body of the nymph Syrinx.Unlike the god whose music could inspire panic (the root of the word) in any who heard it, however, Pan the band can goad even their first-time listeners to hum or sing along, or else sway to their instantly memorable folk-punk-rock music. And why not? Dong's remarkable gift for play withwords and his acerbic wit (pun and pan, seriously) persist, as evident in songs from their recently released Parnaso Ng Payaso album from BMG Records like"Precious"("Mamahalin ka pero di nabibili/Mamahalin ko ng libre."),"Dumpsite,""Gusto,""Hula,""Kawatan,"and"Totoy Topak."Also noteworthy are the insightful"Mabuhay,""Kahimanawari"and"Rebolusyon."In short, another masterpiece.Like Yano, Pan thus seems destined to hit it big. So, will it go the way of Yano? Only one thing is certain: Dong and Onie's new band is no flash in the pan!

-- Clara Enriquez

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