Spanish pop songs in Filipinas

After a stressful night shift, I hailed a video-on-board bus on my way home. Not my choice. All air-conditioned buses in EDSA have television sets, and I hate it. Most of the time they’re too loud. Many times have I asked drivers and conductors to tone down the volume, or to just turn them off completely. Nobody really cares about what TV programs or films video-on-board buses play. Whether they shut down their TVs or not, we commuters don’t care (bus owners, take heed). We take buses just to get home safely and comfortably. Especially in the case of us weary employees who usually sleep on the way home.

This morning, I was fortunate to have hailed my favorite bus liner whose seats are reclinable and whose TV sets aren’t usually played out loud compared to its rivals. I usually doze off on my way home, so I prefer this bus liner. The TV was tuned in to ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda when I got inside. The morning show’s guest was popular actress and singer Vina Morales. I didn’t care about the program. I just needed to sleep throughout the horrible morning traffic. After reclining my seat to give my aching back a much needed rest, I felt my consciousness fleeting.

I could already hear Vina Morales singing. Live. Thank goodness the volume wasn’t that loud, so no need for me to complain. But as I was nearing the world of sweet sleep, I noticed that Vina’s song sounded like Latin Pop although the lyrics were in Tagálog. Suddenly, I heard her blurt out “Eres Mío” and a bunch of other Spanish phrases. That woke me up completely, of course.

I was able to catch the rest of her performance. I was impressed considering the fact that Vina Morales is not a Spanish-speaker. But with her mestiza looks, she could easily pass for a Spanish half-breed. Or even a fair-skinned Latin American.

Upon arriving home, I immediately surfed the net to check out that Spanish song of hers. I was a bit disappointed to find out that the song wasn’t new. In fact, it was released two years ago as part of her 30th anniversary album. It appears that the song didn’t receive much fanfare considering that it was the first time I ever heard of it.

This song reminded me of Josh Santana, another Filipino music artist who recorded Spanish songs many years ago. I even remember having written something about him. Sadly, he didn’t become as popular as many other recording artists that we have today. He has since disappeared from the music scene to become a full-time doctor.

But even before Vina and Josh hit the music scene, there was already Pilita Corrales, “Asia’s Queen of Songs”. She has been a recording artist since the 1950s and has in fact recorded more than a hundred songs in four languages in which she is fluent: Cebuano, Tagálog, English, and Spanish. One of the Spanish songs she recorded was a Filipino folk song called Cariñosa whose accompanying dance form is considered as one of our country’s national dances.

During colonial times, many of our folk songs were in Spanish. Even folk songs that we thought we knew to have been eternally in Tagálog started out with Spanish lyrics (there’s Paru-Parong Bukid, for instance)!

If we are to make the Spanish language popular in our country once more as it once was, pop songs are a perfect avenue. We just need more musicians, songwriters, and music producers to patronize and market them. Because they really are marketable abroad, especially since there are more than 20 Spanish-speaking countries that are ready to listen to such songs.

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