Apo Hiking Society

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Apo Hiking Society

Apo Hiking Society (a.k.a. APO or The Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society) is a popular and widely-acclaimed musical group from the Philippines. Though originally comprised of 13 members from Ateneo de Manila University, the group eventually rose to fame as a three-man band with Jim Paredes, Boboy Garrovillo, and Danny Javier. They have been one of the primary adherents of the Original Pinoy Music or OPM movement.

One of the top Filipino groups in the 1980s, the band began as a group of high school friends that derived their name from Filipino revolutionary Apolinario Mabini. The name was later shortened to “Apo,” an Ilocano term for “wise man.” Contrary to popular belief, the group was not named for Mount Apo.

The group's members are Jim Paredes, Buboy Garovillo and Danny Javier. They officially announced their retirement after their final concert tour, and reunited only for the inauguration of Benigno Aquino III on 30 June 2010.



The APO started as a group with thirteen members in Ateneo de Manila High School, namely: Lito de Joya, Sonny Santiago, Gus Cosio, Renato Garcia, Chito Kintanar, Kenny Barton, Bruce Brown, Butch Dans, Kinjo Sawada, Ric Segreto, Goff Macaraeg, Doden Besa, Jim Paredes, and Buboy Garovillo. When the group entered college at Ateneo de Manila University, Danny Javier joined the lineup.

Graduated and fresh from college, most of the members left to pursue their individual careers. The group dwindled to four, then to three. What was to have been the group's farewell performance at the Meralco Theater in Pasig City, Metro Manila, instead became a hit and launched APO into fame and fortune.


After the success of their first live album, In Concert, APO produced numerous hit singles and albums, many of which continue to be revived by contemporary Filipino music groups and artists.

In 1974, during Martial Law, APO staged the concert series EtonAPOsila (released as The Worst of Apo Hiking Society), a pun on the phrase '“Eto na, pusila!”', (meaning “Here he is, shoot!” in the Visayan vernacular), alluding to Ninoy Aquino’s death, which sparked the People Power Revolution (PPR). The term “nAPO,” (“po”is an honorific used to signify politeness), was often used in the names of the band’s future album releases, concerts and other media works.

One of APO's most notable blacklisted songs created during that period was “American Junk”, which called the attention of the public to America’s political, economic and cultural power over the Philippines. APO also composed the slow and poignant Hindi ka Nag-iisa (“You are Not Alone”) in protest of Ninoy Aquino’s death in 1983.

Jim Paredes composed the anthem for the 1986 EDSA Revolution, “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo,” which was recorded by fifteen other Filipino artists in April of the same year. A few months later, an international English version was released in Australia, called “A New and Better Way.” It was also released in London, England, on the first anniversary of the revolution in February 1987. The song's lyrics were later embedded on the wall of Our Lady of EDSA Shrine.

The APO Hiking Society has performed in more than 50 cities in the United States, Canada, Singapore, Indonesia, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Japan. They were the first Filipinos to perform in New York's Carnegie Hall and Toronto's Massey Hall.


In the early 2000s, each of the band members focused on other businesses and family. However, the group was briefly united on 20 September 2008 during their concert “Apo of the Philippines” at the Araneta Coliseum, and in February 2009 at FTI, Taguig, a month before the Eraserheads' final concert.

The band's 40th anniversary concert, APO Kayang-Kaya Pa was scheduled on 20 September 2009 at SM North EDSA’s Sky Dome. It was moved to November 17 due to typhoon Ondoy.

2010 Retirement

On 16 December 2009, the group announced their retirement. They performed in their last full concert tour in February 2010 to May 2010.


The APO Hiking Society was a pillar of musical tradition in the Philippines, popularizing the use of the term ”Original Pilipino Music” (OPM). Most of their songs featured Western and commercial styles while incorporating Filipino references. Many of the songs they produced were middle-of-the-road romantic hits such as '‘Panalangin'’, '‘Ewan'’, and ‘'Nakapagtataka’', yet they also created a number of songs with socio-political and cultural relevance, such as “Batambata Ka Pa”, a song that deals with parent-child relations.

Outside music

The members of APO have also appeared in commercials, including the 1995 San Miguel Beer ad ”Homeboys,” with the Eraserheads and Monica Llamas.

Danny Javier also started his own clothing brand called ‘Pidro Shirts’ in 1991 along with three other friends, in support of the original ”Buy Philippines” movement. The brand name was derived from the provincial Visayan character Pidro de Montiverdi in their song ”American Junk.”

The group also hosted Sunday noontime variety show Sa Linggo nAPO Sila from 1989 to 1995, and again when it became daily noontime show Sang Linggo nAPO Sila from 1995 to 1998.


In 1994, the APO Hiking Society was named the 1st Dangal ng Musikang Pilipino in the Awit Awards, the Filipino equivalent of the Grammys. They have also received the Tanglaw ng Lahi Award for culture and arts from the Jesuits.In 2007, the group received the “MYX Magna Award” in the MYX Music Awards for composing and recording songs which were repeatedly revived because of their quality.


Additional Readings

  1. Catalyst: 14. Rex Bookstore, Inc., 1985.
  2. University of the Philippines. Philippine Democracy Agenda: State-civil society, relations in policy-making: 60. Third World Studies Center, Social Sciences and Philosophy Research Foundation (Philippines), USAID/Philippines. (1997).

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