My Favorite Filipino Pop Tunes of the '70s and '80s
A Passion for Music
We Filipinos are musically inclined. We love to sing anytime and anywhere - whether at a party, a picnic, a business function or in church.
While I admit that our music is highly influenced by western sounds, I can boast that we nevertheless have a treasury of genres - ranging from the ethnic to the classical, and from the '70s pop to today's hard rock.
I myself love to sing, having been a part of my high school glee club, and still performing today in special occasions, like a birthday or anniversary celebration, a corporate event, or even a karaoke night with friends.
Below are some of my favorite Filipino pop tunes that were popular in the '70s and '80s, but are still played today on the radio.
Do listen in, and groove with the Manila sound!
My Love for American sounds
Whenever I want to unwind after a stressful day, I bring out my favorite CDs to listen to music. I like doing this more than watching a good movie or a TV program. (Yes, I admit it - I'm more audio than video.)
My love for music traces back to my childhood, when my late mother would expose me to her favorite Broadway musicals and the classics of the '50s and early '60s. I grew up appreciating American music.
Original Pilipino Music (OPM) singers of the ‘70s
OPM artists of the ‘80s
It was not until the '70s that I heard of "Original Pilipino Music" (OPM) which saw its heyday in the '80s. Since Filipinos enjoy western music, many artists in the '70s formed bands and started writing their own songs both in Tagalog and English. In 1977, the Philippine music industry even came up with a songwriting competition called the "Metro Manila Popular Music Festival" (or "Metropop" for short). (You can read more about this online.) This gave many talented locals a chance to showcase their compositions. Some of them - and even the interpreters - have risen to fame, thus becoming today's finest artists.
I have become so fond of OPM that I have even written a few compositions which, unfortunately, I keep to myself. My frustration, you see, is that I don't play any instrument, even as I love to sing and create melodies in my mind.
I'd like to share with you seventeen of my favorite tunes which are still played in my country. Although I like many written in Tagalog, I will feature only those written in English by our homegrown talent. I must tell you, though, that most of these are ballads and mellow tunes. That's because we Filipino songwriters/musicians are suckers for love songs.
Anyway, here's to OPM! (Hope you like it!)
"Manila" by Hotdog
A tune by one of the earliest '70s bands, the Hotdog. Mixed with Tagalog and English lyrics, this is one of their hits which continues to be played like a promotional material.
The song takes its inspiration from Tony Bennett's "I Left My Heart in San Francisco".
"A Samba Song" by Bong Peñera
Released in 1976, this is one of my favorites by the artist Bong Peñera whose songs are reminiscent of Sergio Mendes' bossa nova hits. Here, Peñera sings the first part in Tagalog.
"Samba for Luisa" by Bong Peñera
Truly a soothing sound! Another hit by Bong Peñera.
"Love is for Singing" by APO Hiking Society
This is by the APO Hiking Society composed of Jim Paredes, Danny Javier, and Boboy Garovillo.
The group's love for music dates back to their high school days at the Ateneo de Manila (a leading Philippine university) where they were initially 15 members.
The majority, however, left the group after college, and Jim, Danny and Boboy stayed on to achieve phenomenal success in their singing career.
The trio retired after 2010, but Jim continues to sing, having released two solo albums.
"When I Met You" by APO Hiking Society
This love song comes from APO’s 1983 album True to My Music. It was also used as the official song for a 2009 local romantic comedy of the same name (but with the “you” changed to “u”).
"Smile" by The New Minstrels
I just love this tune by The New Minstrels who became very popular in the '70s.
"Give Me A Chance" by Ric Segreto
Written by noted singer-songwriter Odette Quesada, this tune won 2nd place in the amateur division of the 5th Metropop in 1982.
In an interview, Odette told me that she chose Ric Segreto because of his clear diction.
Ric, sad to say, met a tragic motorcycle accident in 1998.
"Don't Know What to Do (Don't Know What to Say)" by Ric Segreto
Another one of my favorite Odette Quesada compositions sung by the late Ric Segreto.
"Nothing I Want More" by Ms. Louie Reyes and Eugene Villaluz
One of my favorite duets sung by Ms. Louie Reyes and the late Eugene Villaluz. Although this lost in the 5th Metropop, it is still very much played in the air.
Louie and Eugene were former members of The New Minstrels.
"Till I Met You" by Kuh Ledesma
This time, Odette Quesada had singer Kuh Ledesma interpet this song. It won 1st prize in the professional division of the 6th Metropop. It was also used as the theme song for a 2006 local romantic comedy of the same name.
Here are the lyrics :
I never dream
'Cause I always thought that dreamin' was for kids,
Just a childish thing
And I could swear
Love is just a game that children play
And no more than a game.
Till I met you,
I never knew what love was
Till I met you,
This feelin' seems to grow more everyday
I love you more each day
I believe you
I believe in every word when you say
'I love you all the way'
Now I could swear
Love is not a game that children play
So tell me you'll stay
"Pain" by Martin Nievera
Composed by Alvina Sy, this was interpreted by wacky entertainer Martin Nievera in the 6th Metropop. It won 1st prize in the amateur division.
"Got to Look for It" by Martin Nievera
A great mellow tune by Martin Nievera which is included in his 1984 album The Best Gift.
"The Power of Music" by Ray-an Fuentes
Ray-an Fuentes is one singer whose funk and soul music I fancy. (And he sure has the voice for it!) Here's a track from his 1983 album I'm Coming Out.
"Sunshine" by Ray-an Fuentes
Another funky sound from Ray-an Fuentes’ I'm Coming Out album
"You Got Me Working" by Gary Valenciano
Now married with three grown-up kids, the singer, Gary Valenciano, is known as "Mr. Pure Energy" because of his highly energetic dance moves. You could say he's the "Michael Jackson of the Philippines". This is one of his earlier hits.
"Wait" by Louie Heredia
Like the APO Hiking Society, the singer, Louie Heredia - who has now laid low - is also a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila. The songwriter, Archie Dairocas, is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Here's a track from Heredia's 1986 album From Another Place and Time.
"From Another Place and Time" by Louie Heredia
Another tune by Louie Heredia written by award-winning composer, Cecile Azarcon.