It was during the midst of militarization in our country and former President Aquino’s “Total War Policy” when the activists of the late 80’s and the early 90’s heard “Tatsulok” which helped them scream out their grievances.
Tatsulok was written and composed by Rom Dongeto of the activist folk-rock group Buklod – whose other members were Noel Cabangon and Rene Boncocan. It was released in their album called Tatsulok in 1992. With highly figurative language, the song obviously refers to the conflict between the government and the communist-led New People’s Army (NPA).
In 2007, the very same song hit the airwaves with its different flavor but still the socially related message remained. A remake was done by the famous band Bamboo. The said rendition has turn into a favorite among Filipino youth rock fans and stressed their inclination to socially relevant songs once more.
This track came off their album called, We Stand Alone Together. Bamboo – composed of Bamboo Mañalac, Ira Cruz, Nathan Azarcon and Vic Mercado – gave a more youthful interpretation to the song.
Those who have heard the original version of Tatsulok says that the guitar strumming and flute background was missed in the newer version. But Bamboo did an excellent job, the vocals invoke strong emotions.
The song represents the social structure of our country wherein the powerful, which are few, are those at the top while those at the bottom make up the prevalent sector. It advises Totoy, a symbol for the young Juan de la Cruz or the Filipino youth, to take a lot of care in his direction and avoid being killed, and it also calls on him to invert the pyramid that has been built by our social systems.
At the end of the song, it tells that the war between the NPA and the Aquino regime is not just the conflict. But the root of this fighting is poverty – the social pyramid.