Filipino Pioneers of Reggae: Popong Landero

Popong Landero is a Davao-based artist who earned his moniker “Kaliweteng Gitarista” in 1978 after his first single swept the airwaves. Known for being a left-handed guitarist and for his reggae covers of Bob Marley.

In his teen years , Popong Landero sang his own songs, co-founded a music group named Masang Himig, quit schooling and earned his basic survival means through his musical talent. A singer with a mind of his own, he would insist on using his left hand to write, to hold an axe, and to play his guitar,in spite of his father’s insistence early on that he eat with his right hand. It may have been an awkward process but his music was never stunted. He would invert chord books while he was still learning how to play the guitar. It was at this time that he started gaining recognition in Davao as the “Kaliweteng Gitarista(Lefty Guitarist). That was in 1978.

Inspired by the burgeoning growth of what was then underground OPM (Original Pilipino Music), Popong hied off to the big city – Manila

There he did the rounds of pub houses and campuses as folksinger and band member. His performances brought him even further- to Baguio, Puerto Galera, Los Banos, Pampanga, Quezon Province, Sorsogon- favorite haunts of artists and musicians.All this time, he was exchanging notes with the famous folk band Asin. But he himself had always been attached to a band: with the folk-rock band Ric & Roll in 1979, with the new wave band Earthlings in 1980, and with the pioneering reggae-rock band Lolita & Sulabama in 1981. This sometimes restless sojourn ultimately brought him back to native Mindanao, finally taking root in his birthland Davao.

There he decided to continue his studies in mechanical engineering. But his musical calling would not be suppressed. He formed a new group and named it P.O.W. (Prisoners of the Worldbank)

Performing nightly at a local pub, Popong found a venue for his original compositions in between cover sets. A year after,in latter part of 1986, Popong became a part of the emerging ethno-rock group Bagong Lumad. The group played live music for a dance-theater production. It was his stint as musical director of this Mindanao myth- based theater production that instituted him into the bosom of people’s culture. He went further this time. He joined a research fieldwork on tribal music in the hinterlands and explored the world of theater as actor and musician. The performances brought him to England, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan.

As a recording artist, Popong has already produced four albums, namely, Ayayayayay, Laylay Sa Sidlakan, Kamay Ni Laan (Hands of Laan) and Impact 2000.

Today, Popong emerges as a true son of World Music. An artist who draws his essence from his roots, fusing in folk, rock, reggae and ethnic; the embodiment of an artist who has come full circle.

Herbert Kikoy

Surigaonon by birth, Butuanon by heart and now an adopted son of Cebu, Herbert is a hobbyist photographer who focuses on Food, Sports, Travel and Festivals photography.