Anak for piano solo

When I lived in Singapore in the late eighties, I hung out with my Malaysian neighbors off River Valley Road. One of their friends, named Cel, sketched me (below). I’m not sure if he was the one who introduced me to Freddie Aguilar’s song. The cascading F major, G major, and A minor chord progression has haunted me ever since.

by Cel

Recently, I came across a photo of my young self, the way I’d dress for work in the mornings. Without a piano those hot, humid days in Singapore, I had grown my nails long and painted them bright red. I wore tight skirts and high heels to fit in the yuppie scene at the bank.

I’m surprised how different I look from Cel’s sketch. Had he met me after Singapore, when I returned to school?

The sketch and the photo don’t match, but the music brings back memories I had nearly forgotten.

Though I remembered the tune, I didn’t know the lyrics or the meaning of the song. It made Aguilar an overnight sensation in Manilla and eventually the most famous Filipino musician in the world. Anak means child. It is said that Aguilar wrote it to ask for forgiveness from his parents because he left home at age 18 and disappointed them.

Anne Ku from her top floor flat, River Valley Road, Singapore

Anne Ku from her top floor flat, River Valley Road, Singapore

On my late friend Bart’s Steinway Model O in the Hague in September, I played Anak for his widow.  She recognized it instantly. At the bottom of this blog post, I copy/paste her translation of the Tagalog lyrics with many thanks.

Here it is again, on my Baldwin concert grand in Boston. I call it the moonshot piano, for it was born in 1969.

There are several original versions of Freddie Aguilar singing and playing this piece. Here is one with English verse. The British band Ooberfuse made its own version, with setting in the Philippines. There are plenty of guitar and piano covers online, even tutorials on how to play it on the guitar  and ukulele!

If you’re looking for the lyrics and guitar chords, simply google “Anak Aguilar chords” and you’ll find it. I doubt there is sheet music for a piano version though. My version in the video below is a combination of reading from a guitar solo score and improvising to fill in the registers.

Anak Lyrics

Nung isilang ka sa mundong ito                   When you were born into this world
Laking tuwa ng magulang mo                       Lots of joy your parents had
At ang kamay nila                                            And their hands
Ang iyong ilaw                                                  Were your light.

At ang nanay at tatay mo’y                             And your mother and father
Di malaman ang gagawin                               Did not know what to do
Minamasdan                                                     Looking at you
Pati pagtulog mo                                              Even in your sleep

At sa gabi’y napupuyat ang iyong nanay        And at night your mother will stay up late
Sa pagtimpla ng gatas mo                                 To mix your milk
At sa umaga nama’y kalong ka ng iyong         And in the morning  cuddled by your
Amang tuwang-tuwa sa yo’                                Father who is pleased with you

Ngayon nga ay malaki ka na                              Now that you’ve grown up
Nais mo’y maging Malaya                                  You wanted to be free
Di man sila payag                                                Even if they don’t approve
Walang magagawa                                              They cannot do anything

Ikaw nga ay biglang nagbago                            You were the one who changed
Nagging matigas ang iyong ulo                        You became hard-headed
At ang payo nila’y                                                Their advice
Sinuway mo                                                          You ignored

Di mo man lang inisip na ang                           You did not even think that
Kanilang ginagawa’y para sa yo                       What they did was for you
Pagka’t ang nais mo’y másunod                       Because of your desire to be spoiled
Ang layaw mo di mo sila pinapansin              You did not pay attention to them 

Nagdaan pa ang mga araw                                      Days passed
At ang landas mo’y maligaw                                   And you lost the path
Ikaw ay nalulong                                                       You got involved in
Sa másamang bisyo                                                   vices

At ang una mong nilapitan                                    And the first you approached
Ang iyong inang lumuluha                                    Was your crying mother
At ang tanong niya ANAK                                     And her question was “Child,
Ba’t ka nagkaganyan?                                            Why have you become like this?”

At ang iyong mata’y biglang lumuha                  And your eyes suddenly teared
Ng di mo napapasin                                               Without you knowing it
Pagsisisi at sa isip mo’t nalaman                         Repentance and in your mind
Mong ikaw’y nagkamali                                         You knew you erred

Original lyrics by Freddie Aguilar

English translation by Wads Wijnberg-Tiongson

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