Monday, October 31, 2011

Ageless Jose Mari Chan


The other night, we watched a concert-for-a-cause featuring Jose Mari Chan titled “Constant Care” at the cozy open-air venue of Panglao Nature Island Resort in Bohol.
The affair is a project of the radio network of the Bohol Chronicle, under the flagship of DYRD in Tagbilaran City.
DYRD is marking its golden anniversary after fifty years of broadcast service.
DYRD first went on the air in October 1961.
It has been fifty years of radio activity starting from wirecasting to internet broadcasting.
One of the highlights of the anniversary is a concert for the benefit of Inyong Alagad, the longest running public service radio program of the station providing assistance to indigent residents of Tagbilaran and other Bohol towns.
It was a night of nostalgia.
Jose Mari Chan belted out a treasure trove of his classic hits beginning with “Big Beautiful Country”
This song begins with the lyrics “Welcome world, to this big beautiful country…”
His debut in the recording industry was his first hit single “Afterglow” in 1967.
This was a time when, as a young musical artist, Jose Mari Chan would literally bring a bunch of ‘45’ records (played then on turn tables) and would do the rounds in radio stations pleading to disc jockeys to play his new record.
The concert was also sponsored by Philippine Airlines, so Jose Mari Chan paid tribute to the flagship carrier by singing the commercial of PAL which he composed in the 1970’s titled “Love at Thirty Thousand Feet.”.
Until today, the melodic tune of PAL is played not only in media commercials but as inflight background instrumental while passengers await to soar in the air.
Jose Mari Chan is widely recognized as one of the nations most prolific balladeer.
He is known as Mr. Songwriter. He is engaged by the nation's top advertising companies owing to his ability to create catchy radio/tv jingles and commercials.
He sang one-by-one his music and romance he wrote through the years including Deep In My heart, Tell Me Your Name, Beautiful Girl.
An innovation in the concert was to select local female talents of Bohol to do the duets with Jose Mari Chan.
A talented Tagbilaran pediatrician ably replaced Regine Velasquez in “Please Be careful with My Heart”
A locally-based registered nurse did not lag in musical ability in “You’re my Girl, My woman, My Friend” which, Jose Mari Chan related, he wrote for the wedding of his sister.
The most touching love songs were those that sprang his true-to-life love experience.
In his bachelorhood, he was heart broken when his girl friend left for Osaka to do missionary work.
In his loneliness, he wrote “Refrain” which was a smash when it was recorded and released in the market.
He said he considered “Refrain” as his “winning” song, among his array of hits, because with this song he won the heart of his girlfriend, who later became his wife.
His beautiful wife, who could easily fit the pretty lass, in the song Beautiful Girl, is Mary Ann Chan who was seated at the front row, occasionally signaling him to wipe the sweat off his face in between songs.
When he was about to celebrate his eighth weeding anniversary with his wife, he was suddenly transferred by his sugar trading company from New York to London.
He had heavy feelings about leaving his wife and family in New York.
Although destined to go to a faraway place, he wanted to assure his wife of his lifelong commitment, thus the song “Love to Last A Lifetime” was written, and eventually it became another song for the charts.
Before he sang the song, he recited the lyrics like a poem which I realized can be appreciated as pleasantly.
Capping the concert were the two of his most famous Christmas melodies “Perfect Christmas” and “Christmas in our Hearts”
“Christmas in our Hearts” is a duet with daughter Elizabeth Chan, but that night the audience willingly did the duet part.
I had promised my sister Ellen to call her while she lay in her hospital bed in Manila when Jose Mari Chan sang “Perfect Christmas” and “Christmas in Our Hearts” so I obliged, and “re-broadcast” it to her direct . It was Christmas in the air at that moment.
It was prophetic too, as Ellen would again have another ”Perfect Christmas” in December (Merry Christmas, Len)
I must admit, I have been a Jose Mari Chan fan for a long time.
In the few stacks of cd’s in the car, two of them are albums of Jose Mari Chan.
He is , to me a national treasure.
No one comes to close when it comes to creating ear-catching radio jingles.
He is one of the great modern Filipino musicians because his songs are ageless.
His melodic creations resonate only too well with the Filipino’s musical taste.
"Christmas in Our Hearts” is a classic example.
Many of us watching him live were all the more endeared witnessing his undying passion not only for music, but also his burning desire to share and showcase his abundant talents to his fellowmen.
Young and old, know the lyrics of his creations.
He has a multi-generational following.
He is an entertainer where a grandparent and grandchild can enjoy watching together.
Indeed, Jose Mari Chan, is a musical talent for the ages.

Saturday, October 08, 2011