IMPULSES: Gary Granada’s arresting ‘Holdap’


By Herman M. Lagon

Deep inside Philippine music is a timeless tune that captures the essence of the country’s social and political climate even after all these years. Gary Granada’s 3:12-minute “Holdap” is a brilliant piece of music that reflects the enduring ills plaguing our society, culture, identity, and destiny. Delving into the depths of “Holdap,” we hope to uncover its significance and relevance from its inception at the start of the 21st century to the present day.

Gary Granada’s brilliance shines through in his songs, which contain complex tales and lyrical and melodic simplicity that encapsulate deep social and political satire. “Holdap” is no different. The plot revolves around a heist on a passenger jeepney, which starts as an ordinary incident but develops into a complex critique of political and social ills.

The song starts with the lyrics “Minsan ako ay nag-agahan doon sa bandang nagtahan,” which establishes a familiar atmosphere for many Filipinos. In this setting, within the monotony of everyday existence, Granada presents the story of a holdup, a typical occurrence in city life. The song’s defining irony and sarcasm are revealed in the reaction to this occurrence, though.

The lines, “Nanakawan na at naholdap si Juan, ngunit ang holdaper pa ang pinasalamatan,” convey the feeling of a society trapped in a vicious cycle of abuse and remorse towards those who harmed them. This paradoxical appreciation of the culprit further highlights the situation’s ridiculousness, suggesting a more significant, systemic problem of exploitation and corruption.

Granada, known for his social and political activism, vividly depicts a society mired in debt and hopelessness through the song, where the thief culture is not only accepted but embraced. In his song, “Nabaon sa utang ang bayan ni Juan, ngunit ang nagnakaw pa ang pinararangalan,” he alludes to the shared experience of a nation being looted by its leaders and the individual sensation of being robbed.

The robber, who is shown as a respected and authoritative character in the community, represents the political elite who, despite their wrongdoings, are praised and honored. Gary highlights the political and social system’s flawed priorities and warped values by exaggerating and ironizing the thief’s societal admiration and approval.

Still, “Holdap” reflects the resiliency of the Filipino people and is thus more than merely a criticism. Optimism, the conviction that things may and will improve, persists despite insurmountable odds. While the song’s story is centered around a particular heist, it touches on corruption, poverty, and the fight for honesty and fairness, among other topics.

A remark on the nation’s condition that stands the test of time, Granada’s work knows no bounds. Although written more than two decades ago, the song’s message of a society longing for transformation is as timely as ever. Its satire is both a critique and a rallying cry, asking the audience to consider their place in society and the need for collective action to solve these systemic problems.

In a society where art frequently acts as a social conscience, the Spotify-accessible classic “Holdap” exemplifies how music may be effectively used to make a social statement and bring about change. Gary Granada’s powerful melodies and heartfelt lyrics urge us to face the truth about our society and dream of a better tomorrow when fairness and justice are the norm.

“Holdap” and its message highlight the timeless power of music as a means of defiance and self-expression. As we confront political and social obstacles, songs like “Holdap” highlight a possible future, encouraging listeners to work toward a more equal and just society. Gary Granada’s “Holdap” is more than simply music; it is a story of the Filipino people’s perseverance in the face of adversity and a call to action to address the underlying causes of the problems and mindsets holding us back as a nation.

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