Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Style: World (Philippines)
Description: classic Filipino songs that are freshly re-interpreted in modern perspective. The songs are heartfelt, poignant and even humorous, evoking a time and place reminiscent of ‘paraiso’ or paradise.
Florante Aguilar and Lori Abucayan first began their musical collaboration in 2003 where they met at a fundraiser at UC Davis. Florante provided the main source of entertainment with his impressive guitar skills, while Lori hosted the event and sang one. Tagalog song midway through the program. It seemed this musical duo was destined to cross paths since Florante has been searching for a singer to record an album full of rearranged classic Filipino songs featuring voice and guitar.
Upon hearing Lori sing a heartfelt rendition of the classic Dahil Sa Iyo, Florante immediately thought “That’s the singer I’m looking for!” Lori was thrilled to be given the opportunity to not only sing and perform but also learn about her culture and its history through music.
Throughout their collaboration, Florante and Lori performed at numerous events and venues throughout Northern California including Fiesta Filipina in San Francisco and Pistahan in Yerba Buena where they were awarded a Pistahan Centennial Award in 2006 and featured in the annual parade.
After years of preparation, Florante and Lori have finally launched their long-awaited debut album entitled PARAISO featuring classic Filipino songs (including the fateful Dahil Sa Iyo), folks songs, pop songs, and an original composition by Florante. It is their hope that music lovers all over the world will open their ears to the sounds reminiscent of a place that many call home and others call “paradise.”
Press Release: If the history of a culture is told through its music, then Filipino-Americans, Florante Aguilar and Lori Abucayan are orators of their age. While at all times retaining a respect for tradition, the guitarist and singer duo have successfully reinterpreted traditional folk music from their homeland and made it accessible for a whole new global audience. Their debut album entitled Paraiso captures Florante and Lori’s fresh style and successfully illustrates their dynamic musical perspectives. Based in San Francisco, the pair have been playing and singing together since their shared love of traditional Tagalog folk songs led them to cross paths in 2003.
Citing influences as far removed as Led Zeppelin and JS Bach, guitarist/songwriter Florante is an artist who embraces diversity, but having grown up in the Philippines he has a deep respect for his musical heritage. “The traditional music is very much a part of the Philippine social fabric. The songs paint a way of living, the natives’ state of being and the depth of emotion in the history of the people.”
The appeal of this record crosses generational and national boundaries. Although the songs are recognisable to those already familiar with the warm Filipino sound, Florante’s contemporary arrangements and Lori’s soulful vocals make this album universally inviting.
Encompassing a range of genres the album allows the listener to absorb all aspects of Filipino culture. Lori’s soothing vocal talent is irresistible as she sings traditional kundiman love songs and harana serenades which evoke a nostalgic romanticism. Although beautiful, these songs are not quaint or passé, but instead feel fresh and full of life.
Paraiso is an album that also injects the traditionalism of Filipino music with a comedic postmodern twist. On a track like Bahay Kubo, the duo demonstrates their subtle underlying humor by juxtaposing the sound of a serious melancholic folk song, with lyrics that merely list vegetables: onions and tomatoes have never sounded so passionate.
Musicianship and musicality are of the highest quality on this recording and Florante’s classical training at San Francisco’s conservatory makes this laid-back tropical music sound effortless. As either a great ‘starter kit’ of Filipino songs for non-Filipinos, or as a way for those already familiar with it to rediscover this magical music, Paraiso is a delightful album that is accessible to everyone.