Jose Mari Chan : Getting to Know the Man Behind the Music
Meeting Filipino celebrities
As a practising journalist in the late '80s and '90s, I had the good fortune of meeting many Filipino entertainers. It was an exciting experience, as I found myself interviewing them in TV stations, recording studios, concert venues, and five-star hotels.
This explains why most of my hubs focus on entertainment. I am truly a lover of films and music.
For this hub, I zero in on one highly respected entertainer whom - I am proud to say - I personally know. Read on to know more about him.
Singer-songwriter, gentleman...my friend!
It was in 1991 when I first met him. I was a freelance writer then wanting to write about him for one of Manila’s lifestyle magazines. Before that, I was already familiar with his pop tunes that were hit singles of the ‘70s – Afterglow, Deep in My Heart, Can We Just Stop and Talk a While and Here and Now.
Our first meeting at his cozy office in Makati (Manila’s central financial district) was most memorable to me, as it was such an amiable encounter. As soon as my feature on him was published, I decided to see him again to personally hand him a copy of the magazine. But I actually had another purpose. Daring as I was, I wanted to show him a few of my own compositions! To my surprise, he sat with me, listened to me sing my tunes, and critiqued me. I will never forget that moment. I cherish it because it was the start of a warm friendship.
So, who is this man? He is Jose Mari Chan – a multi-awarded singer and songwriter in the Philippines.
I bet people of other cultures would think they were listening to some American balladeer once they hear Joe Mari (as he is fondly called) sing. Being Chinese-Filipino, he told me once that he writes his lyrics in English, as he is not that proficient in Tagalog. He also admitted that his music is influenced by the works of Michel Legrand, Burt Bacharach, Henry Mancini and the Beatles. (He has one composition, in fact, which serves as a counterpoint to John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s Here, There and Everywhere.)
My fondest memories of Joe Mari are the occasions when he and his lovely wife, Mary Ann, graced my wedding reception in September 1994, and when he guested in one of my civic organization’s activities.
Blessed with a wonderful family, Joe Mari is a fine product of the Ateneo de Manila, one of the nation’s top universities. As a businessman, he currently runs his late father’s sugar business.
Here are some of his popular hits :
Joe Mari told me that he was once mistaken for a popular American singer when some people heard this.
It was his first single in 1967. He later collaborated with his schoolmate - Filipino rock-and-roll musician Ramon “RJ” Jacinto - to remake this song. The duet version is in RJ’s 2012 album RJ Duets.
2. Deep In My Heart
This love song was released in 1969 and quickly became a hit.
3. Can We Just Stop and Talk Awhile
This is the first Joe Mari composition I ever heard. It was an entry in the 1973 World Popular Song Festival held in Tokyo.
I was instantly charmed by this!
4. Why Did We Not Meet (Some Years Before)
From the album Afterthoughts released in 1974, this is another favorite of mine. The melody is just soothing.
5. Good Old-fashioned Romance
Another track from the Afterthoughts album with a very catchy tempo !
6. Counterpoint to Lennon and McCartney’s "Here, There & Everywhere"
If the late John Lennon and Paul McCartney could just hear this!
7. Here and Now
In this song, Joe Mari sings with Pol Enriquez and Cynthia Patag of The Ambivalent Crowd, a popular Filipino band of the ‘70s. I love the mellowness of this tune.
8. Afraid for Love to Fade
Released in 1975, this is a sweet ballad with a pleasant melody.
9. Tell Me Your Name
This is from the 1985 album A Golden Collection.
10. Beautiful Girl
This is probably the most popular Joe Mari composition ever to hit Manila’s airwaves.
It is in his 1989 album, Constant Change, which was named Album of the Year by the Awit Awards (the Philippine version of the American Grammy Awards).
11. My Girl, My Woman, My Friend
One of my favorite duets! The female vocalist is popular singer Janet Basco. (Love the way he sings "rolled into one"!)
12. Christmas In Our Hearts
This is Joe Mari’s most popular Christmas song. The female vocalist is his married daughter Liza.
13. We Share the Same Horizon (jingle)
Joe Mari wrote this for a bank commercial in the ‘70s.
The singer, Tillie Moreno, was once a member of the popular Circus Band of the ‘70s. She has now gone solo.
14. Love At Thirty Thousand Feet (jingle)
Joe Mari wrote this for Philippine Airlines.
15. Big Beautiful Country (jingle)
Joe Mari wrote this station I.D. jingle for the now-defunct TV station Banahaw Broadcasting Corp. (BBC2).
We're on the road
We move from place to place
And oftentimes when I'm about to call it home
We'd have to move along
Life is a constant change...
The friends we know we meet along the way
Too soon the times we share form part of yesterday
'Cause life's a constant change
And nothing stays the same, oh no— Jose Mari Chan, from “Constant Change"