Basil ready for comeback album

Dot Ramos Balasbas-Gancayco - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Basil Valdez is one of the very few singers I know who commands deep respect not only from fans and peers but also from the best and the brightest in the socio-cultural and educational circle. Renowned for his countless, beautiful, original Pilipino songs that lorded the Philippine airwaves during the ‘70s and ‘80s, he speaks with such humility and sincerity, you forget that you are with an icon in Philippine entertainment. He gazes straight into your eyes with a soothing look that can melt you, especially if you are, like me, an ardent fan for 30 years. He regards you with an assuring smile that says hey, in spite of the circus that we Filipinos are experiencing in politics, it is still going to be okay. When he shares with you what he does to help the Catholic Church and how many indigent scholars he has sent to school (67 as of the last count), you want to hug him and convince him to please, please run for president so we can finally have one who is a non-trapo and who has no other personal agenda but to serve. You are entranced by his mere presence. You are enveloped by his goodness as you watch him accommodate everyone who wants to have a photo and share small talk with him. Just the thought of finally getting to know him up close gives you the shivers.

And so it was that I had to run like Lydia de Vega in my Oscars gown and four-inch heels (as I was one of the presenters at the Rotary District 3780 Awards that day) to be at the Boulvar Lounge of the Manila Pavilion Hotel at our exact appointed time of 3 p.m. I was one minute late and I wanted to kick myself upon seeing him, the Mr. Basil Valdez, already sitting relaxed at the hotel lobby lounge waiting for me. “I have always been trained to be punctual,” Basil shares, without any tinge of sarcasm. “At the Ateneo where I studied from grade school to college, tardiness is unacceptable.” (At this point, I wanted not only to kick but also slap myself for not studying at the Ateneo. Huhuhu.)

As we started our interview, memories of Basil crooning with his distinctive mellifluous and touching voice my favorite OPM ballads started flooding my mind. These include hits from George Canseco: Ngayon at Kailan Man (which was always requested of me for wedding bookings), Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo, Hanggang sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan and Kastilyong Buhangin; from Ryan Cayabyab: Nais Ko, Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka, Kahit Ika’y Panaginip Lang, and Paraisong Parisukat; and from Gerry Paraiso, You. Who among us Catholic churchgoers are not familiar with Hindi Kita Malilimutan and Tanging Yaman by now Jesuit priest Fr. Manoling Francisco as interpreted by Basil? Who among us did not sing along to a church choir’s rendition of Basil’s Lead Me Lord and Lift Up Your Hands during communion? Recounting his repertoire, I could very well assign some memorable moments of my life (first wedding song learned, dancing “sweet” with some guy, jamming with the family before the piano during brownouts, calling up a radio station to request his song, trying hard not to break down when I sang Hindi Kita Malilimutan during my dad’s funeral Mass, etc.) according to his hits.

From a working student/folk-singer, to lead vocalist of the Circus Band, to soloist discovered by George Canseco and Vic del Rosario, and a collaborator of Ryan Cayabyab in making beautiful music, through exquisite recordings, sell-out concerts and a recent album on Filipino classics still out in the market (with immortal Filipino classics, including, Bayan Ko, Ugoy ng Duyan, Sapagka’t Kami Ay Tao Lamang, Tanging Diyos Lamang with Ryan Cayabyab conducting the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra), we the fans of Basil are yearning for more.

The good news is that he is definitely coming out with another album this year under Viva Records. He will be doing cover versions of ‘70s and ‘80s songs, like Too Shy To Say, You Light Up My Life, and There’s Got To Be A Morning After, an album I will definitely buy.

And for those who are eager to watch him again perform live (like me), the other good news is that Basil will be doing a back-to-back show with no less than Dulce on June 26 at the Alegria Lounge of the Manila Pavilion Hotel, titled Reminiscing with Basil and Dulce, a concert that I definitely will catch. Basil, as expected, is all praises for his singing partner in the upcoming show produced by Pagcor Manila Pavilion. “I met Dulce when she was still very young. Even at her age, she already had a great voice that did not escape the discriminating eye of talent scout/composer George Canseco,” Basil distinctly remembers.

Still, for the former professor of Philosophy at the Ateneo and Religion at Xavier School, what gives the highest sense of fulfillment to Basil is singing in church. “Nothing beats the sense of high that I get when I see people inspired as I perform songs in praise of God. I can sing even up to 17 songs and never get tired as it is all for His glory.” At this point in the interview, my eyes get misty and I want to cry. I whisper a prayer to God — a prayer of thanks — for giving us Filipino people one Basil Valdez who, all these years, has shared with us his inspiring music Ad Majore Dei Gloriam.

(For details on Reminiscing with Basil and Dulce, call 524-6648. Help build houses for the poor through the Gawad Kalinga by calling 718-1738 to 41 or texting 0917-5239777.)

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