RJ Jacinto plays a line-up of classic Filipino songs in Kundiman ni Guitarman
RJ goes kundiman
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - January 27, 2020 - 12:00am

The guitar and Filipino music go well together. The musical instrument originated in Europe and it was brought to local shores by the Spanish conquerors. Since Filipino composers had by the 18th century already adopted the western music style, the guitar became an easy fit for the native songs.

It was also a fact that the guitar cost less and was easier to move around than the huge piano or in the case of religious music, the organ. Besides, the guitar has always been easier to play. Hold the frets down and then strum or pluck. That is why local entertainment of all sorts in the past commonly featured a gitarista or guitar player. So did the parties and other get-togethers while the young men went courting accompanied by a guitar in the beautiful tradition of the harana.  

Ramon Jacinto or RJ as he is fondly called is a master of the guitar. He was just a kid when he first fell in love with the instrument. With the passing of the years, he also grew in expertise and artistry. He is now one of the best guitar players in the country. Aside from his regular gigs, he now shares his love for the guitar with others through his line of signature guitars. Many musicians and those aspiring to be are now the proud owners of his RJ Guitars, which is of very good quality but costs less than imported brands.

Filipino music on the guitar played by RJ is a match made in heaven. This is the kind of music found in the new album Kundiman ni Guitarman, where he plays a line-up of classic Filipino songs. But because he happens to be RJ, he has added his own touch to the songs.  And that means putting the native tunes in an instrumental rock and roll setting. You know the Ventures, the Shadows, RJ & the Riots. 

The result is very easy on the ears and gives a lively pop shade to the native oldies. Think of Ray Alinsod’s Ang Pipit ala La Bamba or Resty Umali’s Saan Ka Man Naroroon leaning towards Blue Star. That appealing Spanish bolero flavor brought to Constancio de Guzman’s Maala-ala Mo Kaya and to Tony Maiquez’s Sapagkat Kami ay Tao Lamang is a winner. And are those echoes of Wipeout that can be heared in the folksong Dadansoy?  

The album Kundiman ni Guitarman also includes Kataka-taka, Sinisinta Kita, Ikaw ang Mahal Ko, plus the folk songs Manang Biday from the Ilocos, Paruparong Bukid from the Katagalugan, Sarung-Banggi from Bicol, Dandansoy from Ilo-ilo and immortal works Bayan Ko by Constancio de Guzman and Jose Corazon de Jesus and Larry Miranda’s Sa Lumang  Simbahan.

More from RJ. If you want visuals to go with your RJ listening sessions, then you might want to check out RJ Duets, a set of RJ’s performances with some of the biggest names in music hereabouts and even from abroad.

 This is the DVD edition of the album RJ Duets which was released to commemorate the Guitarman’s 55th anniversary in the music business a few years ago. RJ started performing and recording during the late ‘50s. And you really have to hand it to him as far as picking collaborators goes, his duet partners are legends, too.

Featured tracks in the RJ Duets DVD are: Nights are Forever with RJ and John Ford Coley of the famous duet act with England Dan; Dreamin’ with John Claude Gummoe of The Cascades; RJ’s Trip to Manila and Hotdog’s Manila with the late Rene Garcia of Hotdog; Lonely Teardrops with Nyoy Volante; Don’t Let Go and Muli with local bossa nova diva Sitti.

Afterglow and Constantly with Jose Mari Chan; Nosi Ba Lasi with Aya de Leon of Imago; Georgy Porgy and Rosanna with Bobby Kimbal of Toto; Sugat ng Puso with Noel Cabangon; Ligtas and Sabi-Sabi with Raimund Marasigan of Sandwich; Presyo with Ely Buendia, formerly of The Eraserheads; One and Only with Richard Poon; and a live rendition of Bulldog and Yellow Jacket with the legendary rock ‘n roll instrumental group, The Ventures.

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