Emmanuelle, “Manong Guard”

OPM’s newest sweetheart, Emmanuelle, has released her third video, Manong Guard, a richly harmonic ballad featuring Pinoy Dream Academy season one winner Yeng Constantino, now a star in her own right. This is the third single off Emmanuelle’s self-titled EP.

Manong Guard the song is disarmingly charming in its own right. This is light listening for the Pinoy teen set, so don’t expect earth-shattering lyrics and vocal pyrotechnics with Manong Guard. With its girl-looking-for-her-crush-to-return-her-eraser storyline and endearing vocal performances by both Yeng and Emmanuelle, Manong Guard was one of the highlights of the latter’s debut release.

The video, produced by Emmanuelle’s management, Cornerstone Talent Management Center, and directed by Emmanuelle’s management-mates the Lamar Brothers Dave and Micah, as well as Yeng herself, complements the song well in the sense that it showcases the thrills of puppy love. (I love Emman’s pirouettes and the chocolate on Yeng’s teeth; haven’t we all been there?) The fact that Dave Lamar edited the video himself underscores the significant talent of the Lamars, a sorely under-appreciated duo in its own right.

Having said all this, once the gloss of the cuteness faded, many questions did arise. It’s not that I’m nitpicky, but these are genuine questions. I’m a little puzzled as to why the guard, played by ex-Pinoy Big Brother housemate Keith Thompson, is in a British royal guard outfit. Is the setting supposed to be a British school? If not, why is he dressed like that? Is the “crush,” played by Ben Isaac, also a student at that school, and if so, why is he not in uniform? Why aren’t there no other students around, save for Yeng, Emman, and the crush’s apparent girlfriend (played by Dani Camcam)? What are the implications of the chocolate on Yeng’s teeth?

LOL, right? Yeah, I’m a barrelful of questions.

Written by Iohann Garcia, Manong Guard is probably one of the most pleasant, distinctly Filipino releases I’ve heard probably in the last five years, which says a lot about the state of OPM. It hearkens back to the music of APO, of Eraserheads, of the days when music sounded Filipino, dealt with universal topics in a uniquely Filipino way, and touched Filipinos on a national level.

There, therefore, is the implication that arises from the choices of certain details in this video. The song is so distinctly Pinoy, and the treatment so Pinoy, that, in my opinion, going the “British school” route, inclusive of its choice of Filipino models with distinctly foreign features (Isaac is more stereotypically Pinoy than Thompson, but he is still significantly mestizo), waters down the Filipino-ness of the song. In fairness, Emman herself is half-Pinoy, but the lyrics of the song just don’t seem to match the video. Manong Guard‘s lyrics, after all, do not communicate any desire to be with the guard, so what purpose does a hot Beefeater, so to speak, serve? The acid test, as it were, would be: If I were to turn off the volume of Manong Guard‘s video, would I know this video were Filipino? I’m not sure I would, and that ultimately is what tears me apart about this video.

(Of course, Emman’s fans, the young’uns who dream of hunky half-Pinoy, half-foreign boyfriends, wouldn’t give a second thought to what I, a 35-year-old music blogger, would think. This is a video that caters ultimately to them, and they got what they wanted.)


(duet with Yeng Constantino)

Manong guard
May tanong lang po
Manong guard
Nag-aalala ako
Nakita mo ba syang pumasok ngayon
Ilang araw na kasi syang absent
Bakit gano’n?
Hindi naman sa pagiging paranoid talaga
Yung eraser n’ya kasi nasa ‘kin pa
Oh… sige na
Manong guard
Ako nalang po ang magbibigay
Di naman sa wala akong tiwala sa iyo
Pero gusto ko kasi ako
Ang magbigay sa kanya ng ligaya
Ang makita ang mga ngiti n’yang kay saya
S’ya lang kasi ang nagpapatibok ng puso ko
Oh maong guard please lang tulungan mo ako
Manong guard
Nakaramdam ka na ba ng pag-ibig?
Manong guard
Hindi mo kayang di tumitig
Kinausap ko na ang prof. pra lang maka-grupo ko s’ya
Kinuha ko na rin ang one by one sa index card n’ya
Hindi n’ya ba ako napapansin palagi?
Mabuti ka pa manong, araw araw sa inyo bumabati
Oh.. grabe na ito
Manong guard
Wala pa akong inibig na ganito
Kailan n’ya ba ako makikita?
Sana minsan ay maging ako ang magbigay sa kanya ng ligaya
Ang makita ang mga ngiti n’yang kay saya
S’ya lang kasi ang nagpapatibok ng puso ko
Oh manong guard please lang tulungan mo ako
Oh lagi ko s’yang inaalala
Oh mnaong guard
Mahal na mahal ko s’ya

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