To most Filipinos, the name Florante Aguilar elicits a bit of a giggle. Some of the reactions I heard:
1) Is that for real?
2) Gotta be a stage name
3) Are you an illegitimate son?
They are, of course, referring to Freddie Aguilar and Florante de Leon – two of the best known folksingers and guitarists in the Philippines.
I admit it’s a bit of a fantastic coincidence, if not suspicious, that a Filipino guitarist is carrying both of these luminaries’ names. It’s akin to having a name like Britney Aguilera as a pop singer.
I once played in Quebec City for a Filipino community who I think were not too informed on the details. They were expecting one of the folksingers to arrive! Though which one I wasn’t sure. When one of them said ” Wow, you look different in person, how did you manage to look younger!?”, I knew they had the “wrong man”.
So, I think they were a little disappointed, but once they started to hear the haranas and other familiar Philippine classics on solo guitar, I got to right the ship and establish myself, I like to think.
Oh, one more thing: “Aren’t you going to sing?”, they ask, to which I always reply “Well, I play guitar bec. I can’t sing. Besides, solo guitar- it’s an art, you see?”. No answer.
The beauty of the whole experience is that they sang along with some of the popular tunes like the folk songs, never mind that the harmonies were a lot different than they’re used to. Actually, I loved the fact that they can still sing along despite what I’ve done to the harmony, form and structure of the song. It proved that no matter how much I “bastardized” the pieces, they still very much retain the original spirit.
As to my name, sure it carries some “baggage” but also some of the most unforgettable, meaningful and enjoyable concert experiences I’ve had. One for the books (or blogs). And yes, I was born Florante Aguilar, prior to the legendary folksingers rise to popularity.
P.S. Here is an anonymous post from WikiAnswers that answers this question beautifully:
Are Freddie Aguilar and Florante Aguilar the same person?