The Magic of Jose Mari Chan

Wednesday Songs
July 19, 2017

I honestly don't know where to begin a story about Jose Mari Chan. My all-time favorite OPM song of all time is "Constant Change." My favorite Christmas song of all time is "A Perfect Christmas." My favorite remake of all time is his "Perhaps Love"

I will never forget the time I was singing "Thank You, Love" to someone whom I had once loved more than life itself. I chose Christmas In Our Hearts when somebody once asked me to name an album I'd want to have if I'm stranded on an island. The other item on my list: the Avengers' Quinjet so I can go back home.

My personal soundtrack has featured "Tell Me Your Name" and "Can We Just Stop and Talk Awhile" at different times in my life.  Even my LSS (last song syndrome) right now is from Jose Mari Chan – "The Sound Of Life"

"Can you hear the laughter,
can you hear the music,
sing with your heart,
it's the song of life!
Can you hear it, can you feel it,
it's the magic in your heart,
it's the music, the sound of life...!"

I just watched an interview with Jo Mari Chan at BizNews with Tony Lopez. He was very articulate and charming and spontaneous and natural.

I first heard him in a interview in the DzMM show Music and Memories with Boots Anson and Willie Nepomuceno some years back. I was, and still am, very impressed. It is so obvious that there is a decent man and a beautiful soul behind the musical genius.

Jo Mari Chan vividly remembers his very first public performance. One of the most popular shows back then was "Children Hour," a radio program where kids can act or read poems.

He went there and sang "Granada." The audience was stunned and impressed – and he was only nine years old.

When he turned thirteen, he was already a pro in the big leagues. Jo Mari was the host of his own radio show, Junior Morning Chipper, or JMC (as in Jose Mari Chan) for short.

His natural sense of music began to fully develop during his high school years at St. Clement's in Iloilo. The teachers were Irish priests who introduced him to John Keats and Percy Byshe Shelley and some of the other great masters of poetry. 

“It was there where I got into dramatics and learned to speak English well," he says in an interview with Elizabeth Lolarga which I stumbled upon online. "The teachers helped give me an ear for rhyme and meter. I’ve always been a melody man.”

His teen years were during the colorful hippie and psychedelic era, but Jo Mari remained wholesome and squeaky clean, the type of boy that any girl would want her parents to meet.

With a career in music on his horizon, yet with an uncanny entrepreneurial brilliance he inherited from his father whom he idolized, Jo Mari graduated from the Ateneo De Manila University with a degree in Economics.

Jo Mari had also already conquered television during that time. He was one the hosts of the popular "9 Teeners" along with Ces Onrubia, Roman Azanza, Tito Osias and Johnny Salientes.

He shared his first original compositions on TV which led him to independent producers who helped create the 45-rpm record of "Afterglow" which made him a growing national sensation.

The young and superbly talented chinito looker was just irresistible with his effortless charm and the smooth velvety voice. The giant Dyna record label came to him and produced his first 12-song LP of his own compositions.

The first single is “Deep in My Heart" – and a star is born.

Jose Mari Chan's made musical history over and over again in his charmed career and magical music. The two biggest selling Philippine album of all time is his Constant Change and Christmas In Our Hearts, each full of songs that have become part of the lives of millions including mine.

The music of Jo Mari Chan is the soundtrack of all generations. His "Beautiful Girl" is such a monster hit that it became a movie with Gretchen Barretto, Romnick Sarmenta and Raul Zaragosa in 1990, directed by Laurice Guillen and also featuring another of his classic, "Can We Start Over Again."

His "Please Be Careful With My Heart," a timeless duet with Regine Velasquez that is now the wedding anthem of so many happily married couples, has inspired the successful 2012 TV series "Be Careful With My Heart" with Jodi Sta. Maria and Richard Yap on ABS-CBN

The most anticipated scene is the wedding of "Maya" and "Sir Chief." The surprise guest is none other than the living legend himself. Jo Mari serenaded the audience and the millions of viewers, making everybody fall in love all over again.

This year, 2017, the music of Jose Mari Chan has once again has inspired another hit ABS-CBN series, "A Love To Last," with Ian Veneracion and Bea Alonzo, that has become a television phenomenon, setting a new record in prime time.

His other classics have also been sung by Ian and Bea on the show, such as "Refrain" and "Afraid For Love To Fade" and of course, the title track, which have all became big radio hits.

The title was inspired by his "A Love To Last A Lifetime," which he has written for his beloved wife Mary Ann. They were married in 1970 and still going even stronger as the years passed, proving that "Forever" is real.

They have five children, all successful in their own fields. His daughter Liza is the little girl singing "Let's sing Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday..." in their timeless duet "Christmas In Our Hearts."

When Lisa grew up, she again gave her beautiful voice to another duet with her legendary father their own version of "Perhaps Love." As much as I love John Denver, what they created is one   of preciously rare gems that is even more beautiful than the original.

The music of Jose Mari Chan is just world class. He has performed around the world, even at the Carnegie Hall. The Grammy winning jazz group Manhattan Transfer produced the album "The Manhattan Connection" featuring his songs.

This humble piece is only a small glimpse of his unequaled achievements and his rightful place in in history. I can go and go on saying how much Jose Mari Chan means to me, but he already sang what I want to say to him:

"Thank you for the smile
that never fails to brighten my day,
for the tender look when you gaze at me with eyes that warm my heart,
for the music of your laughter,
touch that makes my pulse go faster,
thanks for all the memories of a lifetime..."

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