GMA'S EX-POLITICAL ADVISER NOW SINGING DIFFERENT TUNE

MANILA, AUGUST 16, 2011 ( STAR)
PEOPLE By Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (Photo is loading... DOUBLE VISION: Twins Dr. Pael Claudio (left) and former Political Affairs Adviser Secretary Gabby Claudio in perfect harmony.)

After being political adviser to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Gabriel “Gabby” Claudio’s career as a public servant didn’t end on a sour note.

In fact, Gabby is hitting a high note these days as his band “Double Vision,” which he formed with twin Dr. Rafael “Pael” Claudio in 2008, brings the house down with music from the ‘60s to the ‘90s.

The audience Gabby faces from behind the microphone these days are no longer reporters eager for a scoop. He now faces a more forgiving, and yes, adoring audience of yuppies and baby boomers swooning, crooning and dancing to hit songs they all grew up with from the Beatles’ In Your Life to Michael Jackson’s One Day in Your Life. Nothing is off the record now.

“We started with ukeleles at home when we were just around seven years old,” Gabby, who plays bass and does vocals, remembers. The first song he recalls singing with Pael, who chairs the orthopedic department of the Medical City, was Wooden Heart by Elvis Presley.

“Our dad Enrique gave us our first pair of adult-size guitars for Christmas when we were nine years old. What a thrill that was! The Beatles had already blasted into the music scene and we were just crazy about them, worshipped them. We still do to this day,” Gabby gushes.

The first songs they learned on the guitar were the Fab Four’s And I Love Her and If I Fell.

“We were self-taught, we didn’t even read notes. I still don’t. As kids growing up in Catbalogan, Samar, we would sing duet for school programs, radio shows and family events. Occasionally we would team up with other kids also fond of music, one of whom is with us at Double Vision Monet Villarin on rhythm guitar and percussions and pretend we were the Beatles on stage. Older folks were simply delighted to have identical twins hardly bigger than their guitars playing for them,” Gabby continues.

After the Claudio family transferred to Manila when the twins were in fifth grade, Gabby and Pael “were simply too bashful to go public with our love for music.”

After high school at the Ateneo de Manila, the twins, for the first time in their lives, went their separate ways for college Pael to UP while Gabby stayed on at Loyola campus, where he graduated with a degree in Mass Communications. This closet singing of the Claudio twins continued even into their adulthood.

[Photo - Pael (standing, extreme left) and Gabby (not in photo) and former Ateneo classmates honor their former teacher Fr. Pat Giordano, S.J. on his 50th year as a Jesuit. Also in photo are (from left) Louie General, Ed and Joanne Ramirez, Dr. Toby Dayrit, Joel Celestial, Lilyann and Boy Favis, Toto Fernando and Dr. Alan Ortiz.

“We found this very therapeutic, especially in coping with the stresses of our respective occupations,” affirms Gabby, the first twin to see the light of day as he was the first one pulled out of the womb of their mother, Victoria, who delivered them by Caesarian section.

In 2006, Gabby and Pael started jamming sessions at home with friends, just for fun, reliving the songs of their childhood and teens. They played as a band for the first time at the birthday party for Pael’s wife Sylvia in February 2007, and it turned out to be a double celebration hers and theirs.

* * *

Gabby put his life in Pael’s hands when he underwent spinal surgery in August 2007. He resigned from the Cabinet to recuperate from the delicate operation.

“Out of Malacañang, I had plenty of time in my hands to brush up on the bass guitar and think seriously about putting up a regular band. We performed for faculty members and students of UP in early 2008,” he continues. Playing with the band proved therapeutic for Gabby, and in no time at all, he was back on his feet.

The twins started calling themselves the “Double Vision Band” (DVB), for obvious reasons, with Gabby on bass and Pael on lead guitar. From then on till 2010, the DVB performed about once a month for special shows.

The call of duty competed with the sound of music and Gabby accepted GMA’s offer to return to the Cabinet, where he stayed on till late 2009.

In October 2010, after a successful show at the Medical City, Pael decided to take a sabbatical from the band, whose schedule had become too demanding. By then, DVB, from being an all-male band, had taken in a lone female member, allowing it to expand its repertoire to a wider variety of retro music from the ‘60s to the ‘90s. It has also become a favorite attraction at Chef and Brewer Cafe and Restaurant in Ortigas, known to host the best retro showbands in town. When his hectic schedule permits, Pael would still play with the band on special occasions, such as the now-getting-to-be frequent reunions of the twins’ Ateneo de Manila high school and college batch.

My husband Ed is a batchmate of the twins, and he took me one Tuesday night to listen to DVB at the Chef and Brewer. And though I grew up to the music of a more recent decade, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and even found myself taking to the dance floor before my husband did! (Buttercup did the trick!)

Of course, the boys were behaved that night because present was their former Religion teacher Fr. Pat Giordano, S.J., who was celebrating his 50th year as a Jesuit.

* * *

There is a certain familiarity, a kinship everybody can share, with the music of the ‘60s, ‘70s and even ‘80s. Those were the days of uncomplicated songs with lyrics that sear into your memory and melodies that trigger a myriad of emotions.

The present regular members of the band are Gabby on bass, Abet Alfonso on keyboards, Monet Villarin on rhythm guitar and percussions, Boy Collado on drums, Mike Gural on lead guitar and Milan Lazaro as female vocalist.

Except for Gabby, all the members have had extensive exposure earlier as professional musicians working here and abroad. Though the band members now having their respective businesses and personal pursuits Monet is an engineer; Abet is a businessman and is active in the INC congregation; Mike is a pastor; and Milan owns and runs a beauty salon their chemistry with Gabby is one of love for music and friendship and not necessarily for profit. Boy, Monet and Abet have been with the band for the past three years. (You may get in touch with DVB through Valerie Claudio at 0927-9146775.)

The group is very partial to songs that highlight harmony of voices, not just instruments. All members of the band sing and actually take turns doing lead vocals.

“For Pael and me, albeit belatedly, DVB has been the fulfillment of a childhood dream and passion. Juxtaposed against our respective careers, it has been a virtual sanctuary from the tensions at work, a great stress-buster and a legitimate escape from reality as it were. In a way, it keeps us young and enhances our zest for life. We have no intention nor illusion of being famous musically but it’s a great way to re-live the songs and the intimate chapters of our lives. And what a thrill it is to be able to share our music with a wide variety of audiences and be appreciated for it.” You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com)


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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