Jose Mari Chan: My Friendly Filipino Singer-Songwriter
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.
Jose Mari Chan told me that he was once mistaken for a popular American singer when some people heard this.
Deep In My Heart
This love song was released in 1969 and quickly became a hit.
Can We Just Stop and Talk A While
This is the first Jose Mari Chan composition I ever heard. I was instantly charmed by it.
Why Did We Not Meet (Some Years Before)
From the album Afterthoughts, this is another favorite of mine. The melody is just soothing.
Here and Now
In this song, Jose Mari Chan 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.
Counterpoint to Lennon and McCartney's "Here, There and Everywhere"
If the late John Lennon and Paul McCartney could just hear this!
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"!)
Christmas In Our Hearts
This is Jose Mari Chan’s most popular Christmas song. The female vocalist is his daughter Liza (now married with kids).
We Share the Same Horizon (jingle)
Jose Mari Chan wrote this for a bank commercial in the ‘70s.
Love At Thirty Thousand Feet (jingle)
Jose Mari Chan wrote this for Philippine Airlines.
Big Beautiful Country (jingle)
Jose Mari Chan 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"