17 November 2008

Jeproks and 70's Balbal Rock

This "jeproks" kalesa, with the typical Mexicannish religious art and metalcraft.

During the late 60's and early 70's, young Filipinos messed words up a lot into unique balbal (street slang) versions, many of which are still in use today, sometimes in jest. A common method would be to divide a word into syllables and shake the arrangement up, putting one in front of the other. Sibat became "batsi". Burat became "ratbu". Malabo became "bomalabs". And of course, pare became "repapips".

The young parents of our clan made such versions of our names when we were little. As a result, my cousin Miko is still called "Komiks" at times, while Ruben is "Benru" (later, "Benruboobs", unfortunately for him). I have one too-- "Yabebs" for Bea-- but more common was "Beng-Beng", created using another Filipino school of creating words out of fairly decent names.

Mga long hair ng Juan dela Cruz Band.

is (arguably) the most common of these words, immortalized in rock n' roll by the Juan dela Cruz Band. These days, it is used to refer to any old hippie, but back then, it actually pertained to youngsters from the Projects of Quezon City.

After Manila became congested and destroyed by the war, Quezon City was declared the new capital of our nation. The Commonwealth Government pushed for the creation of the People's Homesite Corporation, which was to oversee the creation of dense but livable housing for the city's workers. Something of a barrio obrero, as Manuel Quezon was quoted as saying. This gave birth to to the many Projects, which would later on house government workers, laborers, and other beneficiaries. Their children would go to the surrounding schools and universities.

The density led to a vibrant youth culture, with sidewalks reportedly alive and full of the new "freedom" of the times. These youngsters made up a substantial portion of the JDLC Band's concert attendees, and sometimes they would do sort of a roll call of Projects 2, 3, and so forth, or simply ask "Kumusta na kayong mga taga-jeproks?"

The song that drilled the term into our craniums, "Laki sa Layaw" essentially does what much music of that era does: protest about how the youth are stereotyped, and poke fun at common criticism of those hippies with loose morals.

An alternative explanation is that jeproks is a modified and shortened form of the phrase "jeepney rock". This pertained to the long-haired rockers who listened to the classic rock commonly played in public transportation at that time. (Supporters of this hypothesis claim that the binaliktad na Projects was just a happy coincidence.) It may be that the now-senior ones are the few that still blast Deep Purple and Anak Bayan in their jeeps.

That works too.

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