Who hasn’t heard of Sarung Banggi, the immortal love song of the Bicolanos? I first heard of it when I was still in my elementary years in Sorsogon. My mother, a music lover, played the long-playing album of Bicol songs sung by Carmen Camacho of which Sarung Banggi was one, to pass away the time. The volume was loud enough to be heard by everyone in the house. I tried searching for Carmen Camacho’s version of Sarung Banggi which she sang in Bicol but was not lucky to find one. I settled for Bicolandia’s pride Nora Aunor’s version even if it is a combination of Bicol and Tagalog.
From my online search, I found out that Sarung Banggi was composed in 1910 by Potenciano Valladolid-Gregorio of Libog (now Sto. Domingo), Albay. It was first played in October, 1917, during the town fiesta in Guinobatan, Albay, not in his hometown of Libog. A violin prodigy at the age of three, Potin, as he was called, wrote church music alone or in collaboration with his older brother, Bernardo. He became the town’s band leader up to the time he entered the Philippine Constabulary Band in 1919. In 1938, he was chosen to compete at the Golden Gate International Exposition in the United States. While on the way to the United States, he got sick of pneumonia and eventually died. He remains were brought back to the Philippines and interred in the La Loma Cemetery. Sto. Domingo Mayor Herbie Aguas is working hand in hand with Congressman Edcel Lagman of the 1st District of Albay to bring home the Maestro.
According to his nephew, Justo Gregorio, Sarung Banggi came about when Potin woke up in the middle of the night to the chirping of a bird and the rustling of the leaves. Right away he wrote down the first bars and lyrics of the song. From the time it was publicly played in 1917, it became so popular in the Bicol region that the song became identified with it. I am including the original lyrics of Sarung Banggi for better appreciation of the song.
Sarung Banggi (It was one night)
Sa higdaan (While in my bed)
Nakadagnog ako (I heard)
Nin huni nin sarong gamgam (The lonely chirping of a bird)
Sa luba ko katurugan (I thought I was dreaming)
Bako kundi (But, no…)
Saimong boses iyo palan (It was your voice, most certain)
Dagos ako bangon (At once, I arose)
Si sakuyang mata iminuklat (My sleepy eyes, I opened)
Kadtung kadikluman (Through the darkness)
Ako nangalagkalag (I looked around)
Kasu ihiling ko si sakuyang mata sa itaas (And when I raised my searching eyes)
Simong lawog nahiling ko maliwanag (Your face I saw, glowing)
Kadtong kadikluman, kan mahiling taka (When in the dark, I saw you)
Namundo kong puso, tulos naogma (My lonely heart found happiness swiftly)
Minsan di nahaloy idtong napagmasdan (That sight, ever so briefly though)
Sagkod nuarin pa man (Until eternity)
Dai ko malilingawan (I won’t forget, ever)
Magpoon na ika sakuyang namut-an (Since I fell in love with you)
Ako nakamate nin kaginhawaan (I felt sweet relief soothing)
Pati an puso ko tagub kapungawan (My empty heart filled with loneliness)
Ngunian burabod na nin tunay na kaogmahan (Now a spring of overflowing happiness).