If you like classic Pinoy bands like Rivermaya, Parokya ni Edgar, and Eraserheads, then you’re probably also familiar with Barbie Almalbis. As the singer-songwriter behind bands like Hungry Young Poets and Barbie’s Cradle, Almalbis has been instrumental in defining Original Pinoy Music (OPM) as a genre. With such hits as Tabing Ilog, Money for Food, and their own version of the classic song Limang Dipang Tao, Almalbis and her crew helped developed the Pinoy indie pop-rock sensibilities of OPM during the late ‘90s to the early 2000s. And today, she continues to tread this path with her own rendition of the popular song Umagang Kay Ganda.
The new cover of the classic song came out in time to support Filipino medical frontliners, who in June appealed for two weeks of time-out as the country’s facilities struggled to control the spread of COVID-19. GMA News recalls how Almalbis’ Umagang Kay Ganda immediately went viral, garnering millions of views and thousands of shares on Facebook and YouTube soon after its July 30 release. According to the singer herself, songs like Umagang Kay Ganda has given her and other Filipinos some much-needed joy and comfort during this particularly uncertain time in history.
“It has helped ease our anxiety, encouraged us towards faith, and given us comfort and pockets of happiness.”
Penned by luminary Filipino musicians Butch Montserrat, Babes Conde, Gryk Ortaleza, and Anabelle Lee, Umagang Kay Ganda is a beloved song that’s been covered by many other big names in OPM. Its original and still most well-known version was sang by gospel singer Tillie Moreno and soul diva Ray-an Fuentes, who collaborated on the song for the 2nd Metro Manila Popular Music Festival back in 1979. More than 40 years later, Umagang Kay Ganda continues to inspire Filipinos with hope amid yet another tumultuous decade.
In a way, Almalbis’ new rendition of the classic song is a return to her pop-focused OPM roots, which she has somewhat deviated from in her latest EP. In 2019, her new Tigre EP and the single of the same name revealed a new and more rock-infused musical direction for the artist. Arranged and produced with long-time collaborator and bassist Karel Honasan, Almalbis’ Tigre showed off her skills on the electric guitar and her latest experiments with effects pedals.
While she is primarily known as an acoustic-pop singer-songwriter, not many are aware that Almalbis has been experimenting with guitar effects pedals over the last couple years. Apart from the mainstays on her pedalboard like the Boss Phase Shifter and the Fulltone wah pedal, she’s also developed a deep fascination for the Empress Effects’ ZOIA synth pedal. Essentially a fully-functional modular synthesizer in guitar pedal form, the ZOIA’s many capabilities are explained through YouTube and Instagram videos by Almalbis, who has become somewhat of a local authority on the popular pedal. And while we are yet to hear the full capabilities of her continually evolving pedalboard, her experiments with both analog and digital pedals are bound to result in more new and original music from Almalbis soon.
In the meantime, if you’re a fan of Almalbis’ classic sound, Umagang Kay Ganda is certainly the perfect song for her style. Apart from letting the singer-songwriter blossom in the familiar waters of classic OPM pop, the song’s hopeful notes are a much-needed reprise as we struggle with the new normal.
Image Credits:DAIRICREME YOUTUBE CHANNEL. No changes were made to the image.