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University pays tribute to iconic folk singer

Rodolfo Laxamana, a.k.a. Totoy Bato, the iconic Kapampangan folk singer whose unique singing style has inspired countless followers and imitators, was given a tribute by the HAU Center for Kapampangan Studies on Thursday night.

The tribute was in the form of a concert where Kapampangan polosadores and poets took turns celebrating Totoy Bato’s musical legacy. A polosador is a practitioner of the Kapampangan musical genre called polosa which Totoy Bato popularized.

The concert was streamed live on Facebook where thousands of Totoy Bato fans both here and abroad greeted the singer, some of them pledging financial and medical support. Totoy Bato recently suffered a stroke which stopped a singing career that started in the 1970s.

In his heyday, Totoy Bato was the top crowd-drawer during political rallies. He was often invited to parties and dinners where his songs were recorded on cassette tapes and sent abroad to OFWs or copied for distribution without his knowledge or consent. The tapes later took the form of pirated CDs carrying his name or other similar-sounding names like Totoy Balas, Totoy Graba, Totoy Bato Jr., Totoy Bato II, Totoy Bato III, etc.

Robby Tantingco, director of the Center for Kapampangan Studies, presented Totoy Bato a symbolic platinum record award “for the thousands, maybe millions of sold Totoy Bato CDs and cassette tapes from which he never benefitted or was never recognized.”

Among the performers at the concert were the popular tandems Bong Manalo and Miss Dy, Dos Palikeros and Tong-its, Andy Alviz, Music Studio talents, Tipa-manik, Leonardo Calma and poets laureate Romeo Rodriguez, Francisco Guinto and Phol Batac. The four-hour show, hosted by Francis Musni and Renie Salor was aired live on Mark Joseph David’s Taga Pampanga Ku account on Facebook.

Angeles City Mayor Ed Pamintuan and first lady Herminia Pamintuan, councilor Joseph Ponce, former Vice Mayor Vicky Vega, artist Willy Layug, environmentalist Cecile Yumul, former Masantol vice mayor Bajun Lacap, Tonette Orejas, Ivan Henares and representatives from the local government of Porac and the Council for Arts and Culture of Angeles, which co-sponsored the event, were seen greeting Totoy Bato.

The show ended with Totoy Bato taking the stage to sing a new composition, “Ing Bie Musikero” (A Musician’s Life).

Date Posted: 07-23-2017