The music of Rey Valera
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - October 8, 2015 - 10:00am

The quiet, self-effacing Rey Valera was born with the talent but it had to take a Rico J. Puno to provide him with the courage to come out to the open and become famous. It all started in 1977 when Rico was the country’s biggest-selling recording artist and the top drawer in the live entertainment circuit. Rey then was an aspiring composer who wrote his songs in a quiet cemetery in Meycauyan, Bulacan.

After storing up enough guts, he came to Manila to visit the Raon office of Vicor Music Corporation and to try to sell a song he had written for Rico. It was titled Ako Si Superman. Rey went home happy that evening, but also uncertain about what happened. He failed in his purpose. No, he did not get to meet Rico and neither was the total entertainer going to record his song.

But his visit did not turn out to be for naught. Something else happened. What he had instead was a recording contract with Vicor to record the song himself. Rey had always loved singing but he wondered, can he be a recording artist? Will people buy his songs? Local music lore said it was then that Rey took a long look at himself in the mirror and told himself. “If a face like Rico’s can make it, then I can make it, too.”

Ako Si Superman was Rey’s first single and years later, last Aug. 1, he saw the fulfillment of his early dream. Rico J. finally got to sing the song. The occasion was the performance by the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by musical director Gerard Salonga at The Theatre in Solaire. Featured that evening was the music of Rey. More songs came after Ako Si Superman and those hits made for a truly entertaining evening.

Three months after a successful heart bypass operation, Rico J. was already his usual irreverent self and really brought the house down with his number. The singing still has to get back to its old brilliance, but as a performer, he is still like no other. He also did two more songs that Rey composed for him, Daigdig Ng Alaala and the infectious audience pleaser Sorry Pwede Ba.

Sharon Cuneta, whose rise to fame shared trajectories with Rey’s was also present. It was Rey who gave the then 13-year-old Sharon her first big hit, Mr. DJ and also her most enduring, Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko. Back in the ‘90s, then already the reigning Megastar, she brought new highs to both their careers by recording an album of Rey Valera songs for Viva which became one of her biggest sellers.

Sharon Sings Valera introduced Rey’s music to a new generation. It also fueled the rise of new cover versions. Used as themes in highly-successful Sharon movies, the songs also later became huge favorites as teleserye theme songs. That night, Sharon did two of Rey’s originals, plus a heartfelt Tayong Dalawa. It was a gorgeous moment. The years have not changed anything she will always be the quintessential Rey Valera performer.

Vina Morales did Pangako Sa ‘yo and Malayo Pa Ang Umaga which became popular teleserye themes. There was also Martin Nievera, who although he was also with Sharon and Rey under Vicor at the time, never got to record a Rey Valera original. He made up for it with well-made covers of Kung Kailangan Mo Ako and Maging Sino Ka Man. 

Other performers were Morrisette with Sinasamba Kita; Michael Pangilinan, Walang Kapalit featuring Cesar Aguas on solo guitar; Tippy Dos Santos, Manghuhula; Edgar Allan Guzman, Hello,  Don’t Let Your Woman Cry and an Edgar and Tippy duet of Naaalala Ka.

But of course, also a star in the show was the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra. One because, we rarely see shows with a full orchestra nowadays and I am thankful this one exists. Two, they are really very good. And three, I like it that Gerard, though now a full-fledged conductor, retains a sense of fun in his work. Check out how he turned Ayoko Na Sa ‘yo into a fiery paso doble by classical singer Anthony Ferrer and you will know what I mean.

For all those who missed this event, you can still catch the Rey Valera tribute through ABS-CBN Mobile. Airing started last Oct. 1. Filipinos abroad can also watch it on TFC pay per view until Nov. 23 through IPTV for US, Canada, Europe, Middle East, Japan, Australia and New Zealand or TFC.

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