Monday, August 21, 2006

Ted: Eighteen Years hence

Eighteen years ago today, a friend of mine passed on.
Many people knew of him, but very few knew him. I'm proud to say that I'm one of those few who really knew him. If you grew up in the turbulent era of the 80's, then the band The Dawn surely rings a bell. So does the name Teddy Diaz. Teddy Diaz was The Dawn. And Teddy Diaz was a friend of mine. Back in the day, I wrote an article for this small student newspaper sometime after his tragic and untimely death eighteen years ago in 1988. On the eve of Ted's eighteenth death anniversary, I would like to share with you the said article, which I tweaked a bit, amateurish writing at the time notwithstanding, as a small gesture to my fallen friend. My personal salute to a man who dreamed big and went on to live his big dream. Here's to you, Ted.

10 minutes past 11pm last Aug.21, Teddy Diaz bled to death on his girlfriend's driveway on dimly-lit Agno St. in Tatalon, QC. Founder, composer and lead guitarist of the popular pop rock/new wave group The Dawn, Diaz was robbed and stabbed in the throat by two suspects now apprehended by the police.
ISTUDYANTE music columnist Manny Pagsuyuin knew Teddy from way back when and played with him in several bands. He writes about the pain-and guilt-that Teddy's death has left behind.

FIVE YEARS is a long time. It's hard to believe it's been that long and even harder to believe what's happened.

I first met Ted in 1983 through my best friend, my batchmate in high school. We were putting a band together (or trying to) and he ran into this guy at the UP registration line. He said he looked cool and was into guitar. Like any other story, we asked him over for a jam and he obliged.

His name was Ted. Teddy Diaz.

Quite friendly he was, a bit introverted, as I was to learn later; he was just starting to play guitar but his determination to master his instrument was very much evident. The little that I knew in guitar awed him, which made him adhere to us.

We played together as Fallout for a while, playing for free anywhere we could, charging it all to experience, as they say. Ted took a backseat to our frontlining, strumming lazily in the background, which probably made the hunger in him grow even more. A hunger that devoured him whole and pushed him to better himself as time passed. Fallout finally split and then he asked me if I would session on drums for this other band he was putting together, Manifesto, with some of his friends. I said sure.

We soon began rehearsing, covers at first, then delving into original compositions. 1984 was a most productive year. Ted and I worked together with his brother Carl and two girls, Tina and Maxie, and decided to joinPepsi's Punk Band Contest. We auditioned, passed and were given a date to compete. Great. This may be a good start. We didn't even have a name for our band, but Teddy, always ready with a wild idea, blurted out one.

Ironic Trauma.
And so it was.

We practiced our original entry again and again and again until we were literally fed up with the song. We did the show and we won the daily tilt, throwing ourselves straight into the weeklies pitting us against Ethnic Faces, who were, compared to us, considered pros, thus a major threat. We tied them for the weekly, sending us both into the finals. Well, we didn't win the finals, they did. But what the hell, it was fun. We got a bit of press from Jingle magazine because of the contest, but it was bad press; readers passed Ironic Trauma off as posers, rich kids slumming as punks. What they couldn't see was that we weren't even trying to be punk. We were into new wave, bands like U2, Ted's all-time fave. But we were dauntless. Our songwriting continued and Ted and I collaborated more and more. He came up with melodies, I helped with the basslines, the drums, even the lyrics.

The songs we composed were exciting; songs we could be proud of. Songs like Enveloped Ideas.. Ice Cream Sunday (which was later to be titled Dreams) and some other stuff (some rockish love songs, the best definition I can think of), songs that would later become the canon of a yet unconceived band. We even got into reggae and did some in that groove (Reggae Runner and The Green And The Black) the latter inspired (the lyrics, at least) by Arab oil sheiks I read about in Penthouse (and some say guys don't read the articles).

Ted's hold on the band became tighter, and Ironic Trauma began falling apart. Now renamed Ars Nova, we started doing more covers and concentrating less and less on the originals. In a bid to gain acceptance amongst the rich kid crowd, we even beefed up the band line-up, replacing Maxie and Tina with Rina Calica on vocals and Marlene Del Rosario on keyboards, for a fuller band sound. And though we did mostly covers, when we played, we played and with gusto, energy and more balls than some of the other "chong" bands around today, who think they're so fucking great doing 100% copy material of stuff played on yer local FM "chong" station.

But resentment in the ranks forced us to part ways. Ted wanted Ars Nova to do weekly gigs at Cafe Alvarado, but that got in the way of my spinning at Hard Rock Cafe (not the franchise). Ted optedto get someone else to drum, which hurt. OK, fine. So I left. Goodbye, go to hell, have a nice life and fuck off, I thought. A few months later, I went on to land the drumstool in the legendary hardcore punk band Betrayed. This is where I earned my band dues; my chops, so to speak, where I really became a drummer. Ted was now merely part of my past.

Then I heard Ted formed this band called The Dawn.
Being part of Betrayed now, I paid no mind. Ted was the greatest guitar player, but he was good at what he did and Ted did it to the best of his abilities. He even opted to take music at PWU, further proof of his willingness to improve his craft.

But we never spoke. Not a word. We never crossed paths, and even when we did, like in Baguio where we opened for them in 88, we'd bump into each other and nothing.. not even a glance. Foolish pride intact, I can say it's something I regret today. Maybe I should've talked to the guy, said hi more often or something. Not that it would've changed fate, but maybe it would've eased the guilt a bit.

The last time I ran into him was at the Octoarts offices, where I worked as an A&R. I couldn't believe he said hi to me once. Shortly after, Tas of BM105 and ex-Rage axeman David Lava promoted a concert featuring an all-star line-up, with Ted as one of the guitarists and me on drums. It made me feel good inside, truth to tell, getting the chance to gig with Ted one more time. The one and only practice we had for that all-star thing, he was the first to arrive and the first to leave. Ted was his usual aloof self, chatting briefly on the bands he was into at that time like Metallica. I'll never forget the last thing he said as he turned to leave, guitar case in hand.. "Adios, Senor" and that was it.

I never did make up with the guy. And now he's gone.. hopefully somewhere better than what he's left behind. I'm gonna miss you, Ted, you ol' lovable weirdo. Many have thought of you as too rockstar-ish; too mayabang.. sosyal and high-faluting, but who cares. But you'll always be my friend. Rest in peace.


Blogger Tekla said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:39 AM  
Blogger Tekla said...

Hi Pags! Nice read. I never knew him personally like you did but his death also affected me perhaps in a different way. It was really nice of you to pay tribute.

2:39 AM  
Blogger Rommie said...

i used to call ted impy (to abbreviate devil haha)...we all miss him, don't we...i always remember him not so much as stumping nubile females, chongs and wanna-be punks with his remarkable stage presence, mysterious aura and tricks on his electric axe but on many a weekday, quietly strumming (sometimes humming to) his acoustic guitar, seriously trying to play better...

a few times i visited ted's crypt at santuario de san antonio, ironically, with and upon the prodding of the guy who took his place as guitar player of the band (it would be transferred a few years ago someplace). i would kinda wonder what/who he might have been had he more earthly time...i guess, however, the legend has become bigger for this unique man we were fortunate to have known...


12:38 PM  
Blogger cholnics said...

I-witness on GMA7 featured his story on his 20th death anniversary. To be exact, Teddy was killed in front of this building called "White Mansion" (according to the documentary and to the people who lived there since the 80's). Dimly lit area, kaya naging hotbed ng mga gago't sira ulo.

Teddy Diaz is a legend...The Dawn is the reason kaya ako naging rocker din :)

7:24 AM  
Blogger cholnics said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:25 AM  

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