Parokya ni Edgar's Enduring Legacy
“Ambastos naman niyan! Lipat mo nga,” grumbled my dad from the backseat of the car. I reached out to change the radio station, relieved that he couldn’t see me grinning from where he was sitting. Our driver was clearly struggling to keep himself from laughter, which made it doubly difficult for me to contain mine. As the DJs of the next station chattered away, the chorus of Parokya ni Edgar’s “Please Don’t Touch My Birdie” continued to loop in my then-teenage head.
It’s been more than a decade since that mildly awkward car ride, and we can finally stream the rest of Parokya’s music on Spotify. The band announced last week that their full discography is complete on one of the most prolific music streaming platforms, so we can now jam and smirk away at their songs in private; no more awkward moments with dad in the sedan.
Reverence might seem like the last thing that their brand of music demands, but Parokya ni Edgar has certainly reached a status that’s worthy of it. In their nearly quarter-century together as a band, they’ve become a significant part of Filipino culture, representative of our humor. Such is their legacy, and they’ve won the hearts of Filipinos across the board.
When you set out to write songs, comedy isn’t normally at the top of your list of goals. You might look elsewhere on the spectrum of human experience for inspiration: The Eraserheads and Rivermaya take it from love, politics and everyday life—even sports. “Hugot” culture finds fuel in bands like Up Dharma Down and Autotelic, whose music deals in romance, both triumphant and hopeless. Vindication and fury color the screams and riffs of Slapshock’s records.
But Parokya ni Edgar’s debut album is called Khangkhungkherrnitz. That set the tone, and they've since gone down the path of the class clown and impersonator. PNE have gone full kenkoy as they approached the random subjects of their songs.
Aping The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” Parokya’s “The Crush” is essentially a diss track aimed at people who are, well, less than desirable. “Harana” is a self-aware number that fits in as a theme song to any kind of Pinoy romcom. “The Yes Yes Show” starts off with Miranda and fellow vocalist Vinci Montaner as co-rappers, but the song turns into a rap battle between the two, nearly halfway through the track.
It takes a certain kind of talent and skill to craft jokes, and even more of the same to play them out through songs and albums. The band certainly has both talent and skill, but they also possess a deep understanding of their audience—of what affects them and what makes them tick. PNE’s music breathes life into the mundane (“Cooking ng Ina Mo,” “The Ordertaker”) and highlights Filipino culture (“Simbang Gabi,” “Inuman Na,” “Gitara”).
By hitting the right (and rarely targeted) spots in the Filipino psyche, Parokya ni Edgar earned their space in our mercurial local music scene.
Now that their full discography is a few clicks or taps away, the “Pambansang Banda ng Pilipinas” cements their legacy and becomes more ubiquitous than they already are. Commutes can be a tad more bearable, additional sing-alongs can be included in inuman playlists, and Filipinos in every corner of the world have another tangible reminder of home.