Saturday, September 24, 2016

The OPM of my Youth

When I was growing up in the Philippines, music provided the soundtrack to the milestones in my life. My father and all his siblings were blessed with beautiful voices as they regaled us with the romantic kundimans of Levi Celerio. The musical talent must have skipped a generation because only my middle brother could actually sing (sorry to my other brods). However, that unfortunate reality did not prevent me from singing along to the romantic ballads of Rey Valera and to the lilting melodies of Apo Hiking Society.

The Original Pinoy Music (OPM) compositions dominated my “playlist” in the 1970s through the early ‘80’s. The songs of that bygone past always evoked special feelings in me. OPM resonated with me and tugged at my heartstrings because I lived through all the joys and the angst of those times. The songs marked the defining moments of my life. I was touched when one suitor nervously handed me a letter offering his never-ending love. To my consternation, I recognized the sentimental lyrics from Valera’s “Kung Kailangan Mo Ako”.

When I left the Philippines for the United States in 1983 to pursue my nursing career, my attention was turned towards American pop music. For my first few years, I was busy soaking up the Stateside way of life. My head was filled with the music of Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie.

After I had settled down from the euphoria of the American experience, I felt homesick for the warm and the familiar music of my youth. Over the years, the karaoke music sessions that were almost always present in Filipino gatherings reminded me of the beautiful music I left behind. I started to appreciate the richness of the musical culture of that era. My favorite OPM songs have become timeless hits, and their composers and singers have become legends in their own right.

For those of us of a certain age, join me in nostalgic remembrance...

“Manila”- by Hotdog
The band Hotdog ushered in the light-hearted and innovative “Manila Sound”

“Anak” by Freddie Aguilar
The song about a prodigal son’s remorse and apology to his parents became an international hit that was translated into 26 languages.

“Handog”- written and sung by Florante, folk singer

"Nakapagtataka"- written by Apo Hiking Society and covered by Hadji Alejandro

“Pumapatak na Naman ang Ulan”- by Apo Hiking Society

“You are My Song”- written by Louie Ocampo, sung by Martin Nievera

"Here and Now" - written by Jose Mari Chan, sung by JMChan and Cynthia Patag

“Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko” written and sung by VST and Company (Tito, Vic, and Joey)

Rey Valera Top Hits

“Kahit Maputi na ang Buhok Ko”- written by Rey Valera, sung by Sharon Cuneta.

“Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin”- written by Cecile Azarcon, sung by Martin Nievera

”How Did You Know?”- written by Cecile Azarcon, sung by Gary Valenciano

“Masdan mo ang Kapaligiran” by ASIN

Asin, folk singing group)incorporated indigenous musical instruments into their songs.

"Pangako", written by D. Subido, sung by the Flippers.
Just because it reminds me of a special someone. This song gives me the feels.

I pay tribute to the venerable composers of OPM:

Levi Celerio (Ang Pipit, Tunay na Tunay, Saan ka Man Naroroon, Sapagkat Kami’y Tao Laman),
George Canseco ( Kapantay ay Langit, Ikaw, Dito Ba?, Paano),
Nicanor Abelardo (Bituing Marikit), Willie Cruz (Bituing Walang Ningning),
Ryan Cayabyab ( Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika),
Jose Mari Chan (Constant Change, Afterglow, Love to Last a Lifetime),
Louie Ocampo (Tell Me, Kahit Isang Saglit, and You Are My Song),
Apo Hiking Society (Batang-Bata Ka Pa,Blue Jeans, Kaibigan, Pumapatak ang Ulan, Yakap sa Dilim, When I Met You),
Freddie Aguilar (Anak, Bayan Ko, Estudyante Blues),
Rey Valera (Sorry Na, Puede Ba, Mr. DJ, Maging Sino Ka Man, Malayo Pa Ang Umaga),
Cecile Azarcon (Lift Up Your Hands, Ikaw and Lahat sa Akin),
and the tough-hits composer trio of Tito, Vic, and Joey (Awitin Mo At Isasayaw Ko, Rock, Baby, Rock, Disco Fever).

Today, the musical genres in the Philippines cover a wide-ranging spectrum that also includes alternative and diverse musical styles. The OPM I know and still cherish have been resurrected by current musical artists. Some of those songs have been adapted as theme songs in movies and television series. I wish that OPM continues to thrive. I hope that like the OPM songs of my youth, today’s music will claim its landmarks on tomorrow’s musical scene.

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