ON APRIL 4, 2016, I started curating an FB group called “The Free Mel Show” (TFMS) with the sole purpose of sharing music videos of songs that I had played on radio as a disc jockey from as early as 1975 when I trained at dyAV, the radio station of the Abellana National School, until my last stint in Y101 in Cebu in 2004. At first, I showcased some of my favorites that have been mostly forgotten, such as Jim Webb’s “One Lady” and Spirit’s “Nature’s Way,” then moved forward by adopting a theme each month.
I choose to declare June 2019 as “The Philippine Music Month.” June is most appropriate as we observe on June 12 Independence Day. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear mostly music written by Filipino artists, both mainstream and independent, blaring on the radio, while bars, music joints and malls highlight the best of Filipino musicians through concerts and gigs? Wishful thinking.
So, let’s just focus on Philippine Music Month as it plays out in TFMS. On June 1, we had Freddie Aguilar’s rendition of “Bayan Ko” as anthem. We had quotes from Filipino icons like Lino Brocka and Jose W. Diokno; genre-defining tunes (such as Juan de la Cruz’s “Himig Natin” and Francis M’s “Mga Kababayan Ko”); Filipino artists that had impact on global music (Fanny and Dakila, among others); and the Golden Banduria Award to an unsung institution/individual for significant contribution to the development of modern Philippine music.
It wasn’t difficult to choose the most worthy for the Golden Banduria Award: Jingle Chordbook Magazine. It taught a generation to play the guitar; but more than that, it became the outlet for rebels who opted to remain mainstream, rather than go underground. Writer Juaniyo Arcellana in recollection described it in this manner: “how the generation of that decade (‘70s) learned to play guitar, which was in a way a sort of long firearm, even for the sake of metaphor, though some did take up real M16s and go to the mountains.”
The early editions of Jingle mostly had music from the Beatles and company, but it transitioned toward introducing local artists and bands such as Juan de la Cruz, Anak Bayan, Maria Cafra, Apo Hiking Society, Circus and Asin. Jingle was more influential than the government-backed initiative requiring radio stations to play Original Pilipino Music every hour.
It was accurate for Jingle to receive the NU Rock Awards Hall of Fame some time ago, while the 2012 documentary “Jingle Lang Ang Pahina” should be lauded for acknowledging the role of the Gilbert Guillermo-led magazine to Pinoy pop culture. Indie film director Lav Diaz, who started out in Jingle, described the magazine as “an art piece that broke certain rules in its time and deserved a better remembrance than the collective memory of the people who contributed to its lasting legacy.”