Cover Photo: UDD Official Facebook Page

From Oo the ever-popular track from their first album, all the way to Crying Season from their latest, we've handpicked 8 of Up Dharma Down's most powerful lyrics.

Since 2004, Up Dharma Down's (UDD) powerful music has graced cosy bars, crowded festivals, and of course intimate at-home hugot sessions around the world. The talented homegrown quartet showcases the talents of Armi Millare, Carlos Tañada, Ean Mayor, and Paul Yap, creating a recognisable sound that's distinctively UDD. Their music is fortified by the group's sincere songwriting which effortlessly invites a solemn empathy that keeps you coming back for more.

Tracking through the 2006 album Fragmented, their very first, all the way to the latest release from 2019 UDD, we take a look at eight of the band's most heart-wrenching lyrics—two from each album; four in English and four in Filipino. 

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1. Oo

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Photo: Armi Millari Official Facebook Page (by Kara Bodegón-Hikino)
Above Photo: Armi Millari Official Facebook Page (by Kara Bodegón-Hikino)

Sana hindi ka na lang pala aking nakilala
Kung alam ko lang ako'y masasaktan ng ganito
Sana'y nakinig na lang ako sa nanay ko

Oo, Fragmented album

Released in 2006 as a single from their debut album Fragmented, Oo remains one of Up Dharma Down’s most popular songs—and, for good reason. The song weaves a narrative all-too-familiar to many: the persona has fallen in love with a friend, brokenhearted knowing the person they’ve fallen for dreams of another. And yet, the singer refuses to distance themselves from their infatuation, choosing instead to preserve whatever relationship they have.

Beyond the beauty in these words, the way Armi Millare sings these few lines is especially powerful, seething with frustration and anger as the singer admits they should've known better.

I wish I'd never known you / If I only knew I'd get hurt like this / Should've just listened to my mother

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2. The World Is Our Playground (And Will Always Be Our Home)

If words are too few
To keep horizons in view
Will you go
Or stay and grow

The World Is Our Playground (And Will Always Be Our Home), Fragmented album

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Photo: UDD Official Facebook Page
Above Photo: UDD Official Facebook Page

The World Is Our Playground is another great track off of UDD’s first album, written from the perspective of a desperate lover in a relationship nearing its end. The singer shamelessly pleads to their partner, begging them not to throw in the towel and leave, despite all the pain they’ve caused each other.

Through these lines, the persona acknowledges that their attempts at convincing their lover may be moot. But in a last-ditch attempt, they also insinuate that giving up would be easy, if not cowardly. Later in the song, however, they confess they don’t know how to salvage the relationship, either.

3. Unspoken Definites

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Photo: UDD Official Facebook Page
Above Photo: UDD Official Facebook Page

Forgive the child in your woman
Your woman is a child
If you know so much better
Then why are you here now?

Unspoken Definites, Bipolar album

While the group’s second album did not receive as much commercial success as their first, Bipolar has its fair share of gems that are well-worth repeat listening. Rich with figurative language and meaningful metaphors like a “silver lining made of gold” and a roundabout carousel, Unspoken Definites showcases some of Millare’s more poetic lyrics.

Though it may be challenging to crack in the first play-through, these imaginative phrases are precisely what makes the track so captivating, inviting its audience to find the story woven between the lines: one about the naivety of love, despite all of the ‘unspoken definites’. Ultimately, the song culminates in the direct and conversational style of prose that makes a lot of UDD’s songs feel so personal—and these lyrics are taken from the point in the track where that switch takes place.

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4. Sana

Wala na bang makapapantay
at 'di na ba dapat pang maghintay?
Ako lang ba ang nagkasala?
Kumakapit sa natitirang sana

'Sana', Bipolar album

Sana, the second single from Bipolar, is by far the most popular song from the album, and one of the band’s best-known overall. The track marries Millare’s striking vocals with the band’s talent in conveying powerful emotions through its instrumental accompaniments, most notably as the song comes to a close.

Of course, Sana also boasts Millare’s skilful songwriting, using raw lyrics that effortlessly invite you to see yourself as the persona—who, in this case, longs after a former lover. Holding onto the 'what-ifs' of their relationship, the singer hopes they may rekindle their flame, though it seems unlikely the other person wants the same.

Will nothing balance it out anymore, should I not wait any longer / Am I the only one guilty of / Holding onto whatever hope remains

5. Indak

O iindak na lamang
Sa tibok ng puso mo
At aasahan ko na lamang na
Hindi mo aapakan ang aking mga paa

Indak, Capacities album

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Photo: UDD Official Facebook Page
Above Photo: UDD Official Facebook Page

Without question, Indak is one of Up Dharma Down's most melancholic pieces. One of the first tracks released from the group's third album Capacities, the song is haunted by a gentle, slow-moving melody that adds a deeper dimension to Millare's lyricism, which uses slow-dancing as a metaphor through its chorus. The looping percussion booming through the background of its verses likewise mimic the pulsing heartbeat also present in the chorus, inviting a feeling of pressure and unease.

Indak is filled with painfully honest prose worthy of highlighting on this list, but these lines from the chorus really bring it home and capture the song's essence. Stuck in a relationship of uncertainty, the persona feels as if they have no choice but to go with the flow and hope they don't end up heartbroken by the end of it.

Or will I just step / To the beat of your heart / And simply hope that / You won't step on my feet

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6. Feelings

The minute you closed the door
My eyes washed the floor

...

You left and you were right
So I have to let us down this time

What are you crying for
When it's just a feeling

Feelings, Capacities album

Across their four albums, Feelings is the only Up Dharma Down song that features and credits another vocalist—none other than Paul Buchanan of Glasgow duo The Blue Nile. By using two distinguishable vocalists in the song, the piece truly comes across as a conversation. And yet, it doesn't feel like a back-and-forth argument. Rather, it shows two lovers who reluctantly agree that their relationship can't move forward.

Taken from different parts of the song, these three pairs of lines are among the most powerful and give a concise synopsis of the narrative (though of course, the entire song is well-worth a play or two).

7. Anino

Pagod na'ng mga labi
Kahit wala pang sinasabi
Puro minsan na lang
Nakapako sa'king isipan
Tahan na, umiiyak ka na naman
Hindi ba't ikaw din ang papahid ng luhang 'yan
'Di ka ba naiinis sa tuwing ika'y sinisisi?

Anino, UDD album

Across the group's stellar portfolio, the song Anino, fresh off their self-titled and most recent album, arguably starts the strongest. This first verse intricately paints an emotional picture of a persona exhausted from fighting, which vividly sets the stage for the rest of the song. It adds another layer to the repeated but always slightly altered lyrics in the choruses, where the singer threatens and taunts their partner, claiming they're ready to leave. However, with this first verse in mind, we know that this is cyclical behaviour—no matter how badly they may want to leave, they just as badly want to make it work.

Lips already tired / Though nothing has been said / All the 'sometimes' / Stuck in my head / Hold on, you're crying again / Won't you be the ones left to wipe them dry / Don't you get frustrated whenever you're blamed

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8. Crying Season

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Photo: UDD Official Facebook Page
Above Photo: UDD Official Facebook Page

Cause without no rhyme or reason
It’s crying season again
Whether I'm wrong or right
It don't matter if it's the end

Crying Season, UDD album

Crying Season is a beautifully stripped-down track in both lyricism and instrumental composition. Sorely sombre, the song aptly complements Anino—both write of a tumultuous relationship on the brink of its end, but while 'Anino' is filled with ego and hostility, Crying Season approaches the situation with grief and hopelessness. The persona is despondent, convinced that there's no use in fighting or rationalising whatever's at the root of their argument, as they've accepted the death of their relationship.

Though an easy listen with straightforward lyrics, the song is far from superficial—these characteristics make the piece that much more approachable and relatable, so it's unsurprising that it's one of the most popular from the UDD album.

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