South Border ‘originals’ deliver in LA reunion concert  

Celebrity chef Coco P. Cruz (3rd from left) is flanked by Dylan Durias (2nd from left) and Butch Victoriano during a photo op prior to the show. The other original South Border members in the show are Ric Junasa, Paul Benitez, Tata Balane and Keisey Hicban. Photo: Teodoro Yap

By Abner Galino

The South Border “originals,” with help from friends (vocals Leo Mercedes, King Pintal and Jacque Abad Santos) delivered well in their reunion concert last Friday (December 22) at the Envision Center in Van Nuys.

With a rather long list of artists who showed off their talents before the former South Border group was called on the stage, a number of fans were caught between staying or leaving the excitement. But those who stayed were amply rewarded – foremost of which was the rare chance to reminisce younger years back in the Philippines through the melody of the South Border’s timeless song Kahit Kailan.

The raw baritone voice of keyboard player Dylan Durias provided the masculine feel to the lyrics of the song that catapulted South Border to the limelight more than a decade ago. The audience went wild as he started to sing the first lines of the enduring song.

Dylan was joined by Leo and King, who took turns in singing Kahit Kailan’s falsetto parts.

The rest of the South Border originals; Butch Victoriano, Ric Junasa, Paul Benitez, Tata Balane and Keisey Hicban; showed the crowd why they were part of a band that was clustered with top pop bands such as Side A, True Faith, NeoColours and Freestyle.

As expected, World Championships of the Performing Arts (WCOPA) grand champions Junior New System (JNS) dance crew provided enough spark to keep the energy high in the auditorium.

Other performers included Geneva Cruz, Malou Toler, Shekinah Paguirigan, Bianca Jolyn Garcia, Belle Cahapay-Fujimura, Aira Bella Luna, former Miss Philippines-USA contender Ericka Rose (Madlangsakay) and Garth Garcia, another WCOPA gold medalist.

Both King and Malou brought their own bands and performed their respective repertoire.

Ericka Rose was an unexpected revelation. She wowed the audience with her powerful voice.

Aira Bella etched her own mark into the crowd’s collective memory with her almost effortless delivery of humor into her repertoire. She introduced her own version of what was funny and sexy.

Garth Garcia, aside from doing his own numbers, also teamed up with Ashlynne Ragasa in hosting the show.

More than a decade ago, South Border bade goodbye to its two vocalists Vince Alaras and Duncan Ramos. And shortly after, the rest of the band migrated to the US.

The band members had to leave the “South Border” in the Philippines even when most of them remained engaged with their music and art.

Two months ago, the former band mates played together at Josephine’s Cerritos, one of the few places here in Los Angeles and suburbs that features live performances of Filipino bands. Expectedly, the former band mates were easily recognized by the crowd as the “South Border.”

Inadvertently, someone who promoted the South Border in the Philippines when it was still an upcoming band, saw the musicians play.

The former show promoter, Aljess Bernardo, who has also migrated in the US and has become a disc jockey, approached the former South Border members. He showed them a throwback picture of a South Border’s poster used in the promotion of their concert in a Bulacan college. The idea for reunion concert was consequently conceived.

South Border was formed in 1993. Its name was a tribute to the roots of its members who mostly hailed from Davao, a province in the southern Philippines.

In the succeeding year, South Border won the most number of trophies at the 10th Awit Awards that included: Best Performance by a New Duo or Group, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Produced Record of the Year for their hit song Kahit Kailan.

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