WHEN one speaks of a ‘musician,’ what normally comes to mind is a person who is a member of a band, a choir, or someone who plays an instrument—rarely do people recall that disc jockeys are musicians, too. Disc jockeys, commonly called as DJs, are well-versed on the different genres of music. They have a keen sense of identifying the good sounds; and they play these sounds for the people around them. DJs are simply musicians of a different vein.
Such is the story of DJ Bong Suzara, who swears that it was his passion for music that drove him to become what he is today. “Actually, I consider myself an accidental DJ,” he lightly admitted. “I never expected to be one, but my love for music won me over.”
Bong credits his passion for music to his dad, explaining, “When I was a kid, he would always play music at home. The artists that really inspired me at that time were The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Diana Ross.”
Prior to becoming a disc jockey, Bong had worked as a front office supervisor for a resort and a bar manager. He was also a vocalist of a band during his college years.
“I find a 9 to 5 job very boring,” he said. “I always found it hard to survive the day without music, so I thought why not make music my profession?”
Bong started as a radio DJ for Jazz Rhythms in 1989. Since then he had been a club DJ at Bai Disco, Pards Bar and Restaurant, Republic of Cebu, Camp Z, Pier One and Azure Bar. At present, Bong is the resident DJ of Treff at the Cebu City Waterfront Hotel & Casino.
He also deejays for events like debut parties, birthdays, corporate gatherings and weddings. In fact, he is one of the most sought after wedding DJs in Cebu, because of the personal touch he instills in his tunes.
“It’s very personal because I really talk to the couple,” he shared. “I ask them about their songs, if they have special songs in mind that they want me to play during the grand entrance or during their first dance.”
DJ Bong also prides himself on having a wide collection of music. “I can play music from the 60s to the latest house music,” he beamed. “I’m in touch with the latest sounds. As for the old tunes, they always come in really handy.”
Being in the profession for over twenty years, Bong has experienced working with both analog and digital sound mixers. “Thank God for technology,” he merrily commented.
Gone are the days of lugging around heavy equipment to his gigs—today, all his songs are in his snazzy tablet, which already has a mixing software. Bong nevertheless encourages aspiring DJs to “go back to the basics,” or starting with analog, as this can be a better way of mastering the craft.
Bong said that one of the challenges he encounters in his line of work is when he is given a specific theme for an event. His solution? Thorough research. “When clients give me a theme, I really do my best in producing what they want,” he said. Some even call him the “DJ for all seasons” because of his musical versatility.
On a personal level, the kind of music Bong enjoys listening to is chill-out music.
“It’s so refreshing,” he described. “In fact, on my days-off, when friends invite me to go out to party, I tell them no, I want to go somewhere quiet where I can relax. I have to let my eardrums rest.”
Bong admits to being a homebody, and is someone who “likes keeping the house clean,” playing music while doing so. Truly a music aficionado, Bong also used to be a member of the Cebu Performing Arts. “We did West Side Story and Jesus Christ Superstar,” he recalled. “The latter is my ultimate favorite. It’s the only musical that I can sing from beginning to end.”
He may call himself an “accidental” DJ, but it is a happy kind of accident nonetheless - one that has given him a sense of unmatched fulfillment. DJ Bong’s tale provides inspiration not only to young musicians, but to anyone who is aspiring to be successful in their own fields. “Be true to yourself,” DJ Bong lastly advised.
“Always follow your heart. Like in my case, I had other jobs, but I really followed my passion. Now I’m happy and contented.” No regrets? “No regrets,” he nodded agreeably. (Fiona Patricia S. Escandor)