5 April 1971 (age 46)
Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines
Westdon Martin Abay was born in Manila, Philippines on April 5, 1971. He shares his birthdate with the President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the day when American rockstar Kurt Cobain of Nirvana killed himself in 1994. Popularly known as Dong Abay, he is a poet and a rock musician. He was the founding member, songwriter and lead vocalist of Filipino bands Yano and Pan which are now both defunct. He is now pursuing a career as an independent artist. He is married to Ninj Botor Reyes. They have a son named Awit ("Chant"), born on May 15, 2002- feast day of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of Filipino farmers.
In 1992, Dong Abay, Eric Gancio and Larry Mapolon met in Patatag, a progressive vocal ensemble. After a year, they decided to form a band called NG (en-ji) with percussionist Renmin Nadela. Abay and Gancio remained and recruited musical arranger and bassist, Onie Badiang to the group. They recorded their demo at the home studio of alternative artist Joey Ayala in June 1993. One of the tracks,"Kumusta Na," ("How Are You?") a song about the "EDSA Revolution", found its way to a local radio station where the group was first heard. This paved the way for Yano to become active in the local club circuit. Mayrics, Club Dredd, 70s Bistro were among the first clubs that Yano performed in. Drummers for the band included Nowie Favila (Ang Grupong Pendong), Nonong Timbalopez (Skavengers, Ex President's Combo), Jun Nogoy (Coffeebreak Island) and Harley Alarcon (Rizal Underground). In 1994, the band's self-titled debut album came out and spawned classic Filipino rock songs such as "Banal Na Aso, Santong Kabayo" ("Holy Dog, Saintly Horse"), "Tsinelas" ("Slippers") and "Esem" (wordplay for SM or Shoemart mall). This was followed by a string of successful concerts around the Philippine archipelago.
Abay had to temporarily quit his schooling at the University of the Philippines where he was an Arts and Letters student to pursue a career in music. Yano released 2 more albums under a major label: "Bawal" ("Taboo") in 1996 and "Tara" ("C'mon") in 1997. What followed was a 5-year self-imposed hiatus for Abay. In 2002, Abay returned to the music scene and formed Pan together with Badiang. The outcome was an album titled "Parnaso ng Payaso"("Parnassus of a Clown"). Pan played for the local rock circuit with bassist, Milo Duane Cruz and drummer Melvin Leyson. In 2003, Abay decided to go back to school to finish his bachelor's degree. Thus, the demise of Pan.
Aside from his music, Abay got busy exploring other medium and art forms like installation work, visual arts, photography to name a few. He also became busy lecturing and giving workshops around the country.
In 2005, Abay independently released an EP called "Sampol," consisting of acoustic tracks which were later reborn as full-band pieces in "Flipino," an album released in May 2006. A month before that, Abay finally earned his degree of Bachelor of Arts in Philippine Studies (Areas: Creative Writing in Filipino and Humanities) from the University of the Philippines after 18 long years.
Most recently, in 2012, Abay released a concept EP titled Rebulto. It was a marked departure from Abay's signature sound that began with Yano; instead incorporating synthesizers in his songs. The EP was well received and a video for the song Par Que was made.
Abay's website can be accessed at http://www.dongabay.multiply.com.
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