Monday, February 25, 2008

A Song During EDSA 1

Towards the end of February 1986, there was tension everywhere. At night, on the streets, cars and other vehicles were honking their horns with the familiar “Laban” (fight) beat. Although, almost everyone was united in the clamor for a change in government, still the atmosphere was very uncomfortable. You could sense that something could go wrong more so when some battle tanks of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) were showing up on some corners of the city.
On TV, I could see the news of people going to the streets. Many are marching on to Camp Aguinaldo, others went to TV stations broadcasting news against the nation’s dictator to protect it from the attacking military forces still loyal to then President Marcos.
All I could do that time was to hope and pray that all of these will be over soon. All I could picture that night was chaos. I wanted change but I wanted a peaceful change. And that led me to write a song. I put into the words of the song these lines “walang magagawa ang galit at hiyaw, katahimakan ay hindi nakukuha sa sigaw, kung pag-ibig ni Hesus nasa puso ninoman, kapayapaan ating makakamtan” (anger and hollering won’t do anything, silence won’t be gained by shouting, if the of love of Jesus is in everyone’s heart, peace will be achieved.)
A day after, I was also on the streets. I took to the streets when our work was suspended that day. I went out to EDSA and joined the thousands of people there. The next day, I came back. That day was the end of it all – the dictator and his family fled to Hawaii.
In 1990, I did my very first solo album under Praise Incorporated and I included the song. The title is “Kung Ikaw Ay Naguguluhan.” It’s not really an outstanding song and its style is not even my genre. I just remembered this song because the scenario here nowadays brings back the memories of EDSA 1.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008


In Luke chapter 15, we read one of the most well-known parables of our Lord Jesus Christ and that is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It’s not only because it’s a beautiful story, but it’s an allegory that all of us can relate to. Its message is so universal and timeless that it can speak to any generation. It’s totally inspiring and it inspired to write a song based on it.
There was a time that I saw a stage presentation of some youth using the story and the music of this song. It is a very effective way of presenting it – a moving story, a live drama, and a suitable music for it. I knew many were blessed on that evangelistic event.
That presentation made me dreamed of doing a music video of that song. But at that time, videoke were really popular so I decided to do a videoke production not only of that song but my other songs as well. But I want something where the video shows the story or the message of the song. It was not easy doing it but I did it and I realized how hard it was to be a movie or video director. But I was happy when all the songs were finished and I think I was able to bring out the message I want in the video in the best way that I could with little resources I have – a digital videocam and a computer. But after two videoke albums, the videocam broke down and I stopped doing video production. How I wish I could go do some more video productions again.
Here’s that song inspired by a parable, featuring Pastor Redge Almadin and Erwin Duran as the father and son, “Sa Aking Pagbabalik” (Returning Home.)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Best Song So Far (as Many Say)

To choose which of your works or creations or projects is the best is a hard thing to do. It’s because you definitely gave much effort for each of your work to make it good. It’s not that easy to just name one as your best. We usually name three or five as our ‘bests’. So we leave it to others to make the choice. A book is judged by its readers and an outstanding painting or piece of artwork is rated by art lovers and art experts. No one can just declare that his work is fine unless he is a master of such field; but even so, his work remains to be tried and tested.
It goes to say also, that a song is good, excellent or beautiful if it has achieved its main purpose; and that is to be able to communicate its story or message and set an effect to the listeners. And the only proof to that is that people like the song; they want to hear it; they want to sing it; they understand what the song is trying to say and most of the time they can relate with it. A song can receive recognition from music awards entities, but it’s not a guarantee that the song is really good.
This song didn’t get any award or recognition, but so far it’s a song many consider as my best song. Of all the songs I have written, this song has received the most encouraging comments and responses; “The Lord talk to me through this song.” “I’m so blessed with the message.” “I was enlightened at the time when I was harboring a difficult problem.” “I was about to end my life when I heard this song on the radio, and I stopped and I prayed to God.” These comments make this song a special one. It gives fulfillment to my songwriting. Writing Gospel songs in the Philippines will not make one rich, but no amount of money can pay the blessings that a simple Gospel song can bring to many people.
I wrote this song in 1992 and requested Edward Granadosin to record it for an album I was producing for Praise Incorporated. It was Robert More who did the musical arrangement of the song. Then, in 1997, I recorded my own version with Arnel De Pano doing the accompaniment tracks. And in 2005, I produced another version this time with Dulce (one of the Philippine’s outstanding female Diva) giving a new life to the song with her powerful singing.
Here’s that song in a video taken from the concert in Singapore last year. My best song so far, “Huwag Mo Sanang Isipin” (Don’t You Ever Think).

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I Was So Moved With Her Testimony That It Made Me Write This Song

July, 1997, I was there when Hong Kong was handovered to China. It was my second visit there. In the church where I sang, I heard this lady tell her story of how God changed her life. She was crying but I know she was happy inside and she was not embarrassed in admitting her past life; a woman for hire, a drug addict, an occultist and have tried other beliefs and practices. Hers was a hopeless and a wasted life. Until a friend came to her and told her about God’s love and how God would accept her no matter what her past was. And just when she was about to give up, she prayed to God and God changed her life.
I captured her story and emotions that day and put it in a song. When I finished the song, it doesn’t really sound so outstanding to me. I would say it was just an ordinary simple song and I didn’t know if it would get recorded. Coming back to Manila, I learned that Papuri! 16 Festival was ongoing so I decided to submit the song and it was chosen as one of the ten songs. It was sang/recorded by Eunice SaldaƱa, who really gave life into the song with her powerful interpretation. It became one of the favorite cuts in the album and there were many who said that they were so blessed with the message of the song.
Nearly a year after, I was surprised to know that it was one of the nominated songs in the 1998 Awit Awards (they say the equivalent of Grammy Awards in the Philippines) for Best Religious/Inspirational Recording category. It won, so it gave me an Awit Awards trophy as the songwriter ; a trophy for Eunice as the singer, and another for Jungee Marcelo as the producer. I didn’t write this song hoping for an award. I just want to capture the story of that Filipina lady in HK. Now, it has become anybody’s story and song. God’s blessings really come in surprising packages.
Here’s that song which I produced in a video karaoke version which features another Papuri! Singer in the video – Charity Manalo "AKO'Y BINAGO N'YA"

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Song I Wrote Inside a Restroom

How do I write songs? Sometimes, I come across with such a question. Honestly, it was not easy to answer. How does a bird sing? How does a painter paint his masterpiece? There is no fixed formula. If there is, then all of us will create songs. And there won’t be a variety in the songs we make much like 1+1=2 and is always equals to 2.
Inspiration. That’s one important element. I need to be inspired to be able to create a tune. It doesn’t really mean that I need to see something wonderful or miraculous like the parting of the Red Sea or healing of an incurable disease. But all it takes is an atmosphere that could stir me to express something – an ordinary church gathering where there is good fellowship; an enlightening or encouraging personal testimony; a good story from a magazine, book, or from the internet; a well prepared minister’s sermon or message on the pulpit. Or sometimes, some not-so-good events that I see or read can also move me to develop a melody.
Also, starting to write a song never chooses a place; it could be inside, outside, noisy, silent, while travelling or just roaming around. (That’s why I always bring an audio recorder; thanks to the mobile phone technology making it capable of sound recording.) The important thing is I am in the mood to express something through a tune. And the melody just comes into my mind. Then I would hum it.. and record it. Then develop it into a full song when I have the time to do so.
Here is a song I was able to compose while I was inside a restroom. It was in Singapore. I think it was in May, 2005. I was scheduled to sing that one Sunday in the worship service of Jesus is Lord (JIL) Church Singapore. Before I went in that function room in a hotel where they hold their worship service, I went to the restroom. Inside, I could still hear their singing. All of a sudden, a melody came to me. I got my mobile phone and recorded the tune. I find the melody to be very acceptable so I developed it into a song later on. I restructured the melody a little more and put words into it. And that’s how this song was made. The title of the song is “For I Know Jesus” which I included in my solo album “His Ballads” released in the early of 2006. I thank the Lord for this song, as many liked it and were blessed by its message.