Ferdinand Pascual Aguilar (born February 5, 1953), better known as Freddie Aguilar or Ka Freddie Aguilar, is a folk musician from the Philippines. He is best known for his rendition of Bayan Ko, which became the anthem of the opposition against the Marcos regime during the 1986 People Power Revolution, and for his song Anak, the best-selling Philippine music record of all time. He is heavily associated with Pinoy rock.
He is well known internationally, and within the Philippines and Asia-Pacific region, claiming fame as one of the best musician-songwriters of the Philippines.
Freddie Aguilar’s musical beginnings started when he was young. When he was 9-years-old, Aguilar played his first guitar. By the time he was 19-years-old, Freddie Aguilar performed on stage with Joshua Alcantara for the first time.
Freddie Aguilar studied Electrical Engineering at De Guzman Institute of Technology but did not finish the degree program. Instead he pursued music, became a street musician, and then a folk club and bar musician.
At the age of 18, Aguilar parted ways with his family and quit college. After realizing and regretting his mistakes five years later, he composed the song Anak.
Freddie Aguilar’s influences include British and American folk-rock stars like Cat Stevens and James Taylor. He is also heavily influenced by his Filipino heritage, nationalist feelings, and tries to constitute a musical exploration of the Filipino ethos.
Aguilar’s “Anak” not only broke the Philippine record charts in 1979, but it also hit the no. 1 spot in Japan and achieved considerable popularity in other countries as Angola, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and parts of Western Europe. The song has become so famous that, by some counts, it has been recorded in as many as a hundred versions in 23 languages throughout the world.Billboard reported that the song was the number two world hit of the 1980s. As of 2006, it was unsurpassed as the highest-selling record of Philippine music history.
Even before Aguilar’s rendition of “Bayan Ko,” Aguilar created and performed songs targeted at social injustices. His album, Magdaleno included songs about a girl forced into prostitution as a result of poverty and the Christian-Muslim clashes in his song Mindanao. After the album, Freddie Aguilar also sang about the injustices suffered by the powerless, poverty, and the arrogance of superpowers in a song about the U.S. and Russia.
Five years after the composition of “Anak”, Freddie Aguilar joined protests against the Marcos regime and began writing and performing songs that criticized the excesses of the government. Some of the songs that caused him to be banned from mainstream media include: “Kata-rungan” or “Justice” (speaking for the unjustly accused), “Pangako” (“Promise“) (a leader’s unfulfilled pledges to an abandoned people), and “Luzvi-minda” (an acronym for Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, calling on Filipinos to wake up to the reality of oppression). One of the songs he was most remembered for during that time was his interpretation of “Bayan Ko” (“My Country“), in which he added a verse to the original piece.