By Atty. Ferdinand E. Laguna
(A Cultural Treasure of Sulucan, Sorsogon City)
I refer to Bgy. Sulucan, East District, Sorsogon City. And I refer to a real folk song of the people of Sulucan. Some of the lyrics go:
An tuba ni Tia Behing
Onu baynte an gallon
An tuba ni Tia Behing
Onu baynte an galon
Kun kamo may okasyon…
Think of singing the first lines of “I’m All Out Of Love” by Air Supply then segue to the lines above then you’ll have an idea on how this was sung by the true blue boys and men of Sulucan, not only by the legendary LaBoys, but all boys and men, machos, therein, pre-Save More, and perhaps pre-Shopping Center era.
You will also wonder if Air Supply borrowed some notes from “An Tuba Ni Tia Behing” because this pre dated their fame.
It is my co SNHS Batch 78 Joseph Demonteverde who sparked my interest in this song. He was born in the early 60’s and grew up in Sulucan, and grew up with the song. Tia Behing he says, was a store owner in Sulucan who sold “tuba.” At the wake of her Mother Gloria last week, he tried again singing some of the lines of this song.
In the pre-7-11 Store days, stores of this kind served as “cooler corners”, where men would gather to quench their “thirst”, either to wind down or “wind up”. You see, for some, alcoholic drinks could serve as energy boosters.
Some would buy one gallon, some full glass, some “medya”. Long before “tingi” packs invaded the supermarkets, “tuba” by “tingi” shots were already being sold by Sulucan’s Tia Behing.
Of course, everybody knows “tuba”.
I don’t know if there are still “paratuba” around in the nooks and crannies of the city. As for me, the last time I saw a “paratuba” was decades ago, when I was not yet a lawyer.” He was carrying a “frasco”, that big bottle commonly identified with “tuba”. He must have been the last of his kind, I don’t know. Especially now that Sorsogon City is already in the “Peter Paul Coco Juice” era.
To victims of western culture imperialism like majority of Filipinos, “An Tuba Ni Tia Behing” would not merit any attention. Trying hard James Taylor copy cats, if requested to hear “An Tuba Ni Tia Behing”, would snootily cringe.
But not Joseph. He who is angry at western cultural imperialism. A talented musician himself who could play keyboards, broken chords guitar, a haunting violin and make and play local bamboo flutes, he has joined forces with me that “An Tuba Ni Tia Behing” will not be forgotten as a song by the people, of the people and for the people of his beloved Sulucan.
This is not to say that he does not do western music. He does, and his version of Superman by the Five For Fighting could be better than the original.
Indeed, such a song must not be forgotten. It is an original creation of a musical genius from Sulucan, of a genius of a poet from Sulucan, an immortal portrait of the true lives of its people , on how they strove in their daily lives, not in the pursuit of material wealth perhaps but in their pursuit of happiness.
Or may be the “happiness of pursuit”, as a skirt chasing law professor of mine would say.
Joseph does not know exactly who wrote “An Tuba Ni Tia Behing”. But he knows it is a Sulucan song. He loves his own place. And he does not want to forget the memories of the place that made him a passionate human being that he is now.
When the Sorsogon National High School Grand Reunion comes this Black Saturday, we will beg and even pay the host batch (Class 1992) to let our batch (Batch 78) perform a song number – this “An Tuba Ni Tia Behing”. Of course we will say in jest that we will perform “I’m All Out Of Love” by the Air Supply” which was a hit song in the early 80’s.
That way, we shall be singing for love of place, and for Joseph we will be joining him as he sings a song of not forgetting.