It was only when two of its four members were about to retire from the field of amateur music, however, that the APO, then known as the Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society, finally had a city-wide audience. One of them was scheduled to leave for Turkey as an exchange student. The other had a position waiting for him in his father’s advertising firm.
Why a talented young man of 21 would want to go to Turkey, every young man in the early seventies would probably understand. But what the APO could not understand was their fourth member’s decision to leave the irresponsibility of being unemployed to join the ranks of the corporate world.
The trip to Turkey did not materialize and the APO, now a tentative trio, pushed on steadily towards fame and fortune.
Looking back, the APO members Danny Javier, Boboy Garrovillo, and Jim Paredes do not regret never having been regular wage earners. Their farewell concert, which had SRO audiences for two stormy nights, not unexpectedly became a hit record the following year.
In the three decades since that “farewell” concert, the APO has made 22 record albums; hosted several television shows including their own noontime Sunday show “Sa Linggo nAPO Sila”; and launched hugely successful major solo concerts and countless provincial, dinner, and corporate shows. They have performed in over 50 cities in the United States, in Canada, Singapore, Indonesia, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Japan to bring Original Pilipino Music to Filipinos the world over.
In October of 1987, during their annual US tour, the APO became the first Filipino pop artists to perform at the Main Hall of New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall. They also performed at the equally prestigious Massey Hall in Toronto, Canada’s music capital. Both concerts, as well as the other shows held during that particular concert tour, were sold out. The APO were also the first Filipino artists to perform in a public concert in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In 1987, they were one of the first Filipino artists to be recorded on compact disc. And in 1994, they were awarded the first Dangal ng Musikang Pilipino by Awit Awards - the Filipino equivalent of the Grammy. They have also been conferred the Tanglaw Ng Lahi Award, the highest accolade given by Jesuits in the field of culture and arts.
The APO also earned international recognition for Jim Paredes’ anthem on the bloodless Philippine revolution in 1986. “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo” was recorded by 15 Filipino artists in April 1986. A few months later, the English version “A New and Better Way” was launched in Australia. In February 1987, the first anniversary of the Philippines’ People Power revolution, the song was released in London, England. The lyrics of the song are embedded on a wall of Our Lady of Edsa Shrine, the center of the revolution.|