Last March 6, before the enhanced community quarantine was imposed, Jose Mari Chan (right) taped his episode as guest poem reader in lawyer Romy Macalintal’s radio-TV show, Senior Moments, which airs Saturdays from 9 to 10 p.m. over DZRH 666khz radio and cable TV channels
The stories behind Joe Mari’s three songs
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - April 3, 2020 - 12:00am

Last Sunday’s Conversations feature (The Durable Jose Mari Chan, March 29, 2020) drew interesting reactions from all over, among them from my friend election lawyer Romy Macalintal.

Dear Ricky,

Last March 6, 2020, before the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was imposed, I had the chance to have Jose Mari Chan (JMC) tape his episode as my guest poem reader in my radio-TV show Senior Moments which airs every Saturday from 9 to 11 p.m. on dzRH (666 khz) and cable TV channels. The full episode was not aired due to the unexpected advent of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Nevertheless, let me relate to you and your readers the interesting stories behind some of JMC’s popular songs which may not be known to millions of his fans.

? REFRAIN, JMC’s song for his former girlfriend

Narrated JMC, “In 1969, my girlfriend for almost two years left me to work as a missionary teacher in an Assumption school in Japan and that made me a total wreck. I could not concentrate on my work because I terribly missed her. One day, I sat down and began to write a song that expressed that heavy feeling of emptiness in my heart and I came up with Refrain.”

I asked JMC if his girlfriend learned about it and he said, “Yes, I recorded it in a cassette and sent her a copy in Japan.”

I asked again, “Did you know if she liked it?”

With his eyes beaming with sincere love and devotion, JMC replied, “I think so because the next year, 1970, she came back and became my wife.”

And only last March 11, JMC and Maryann Ansaldo celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, a “refrain” of that pledge of love 50 years ago.


Unknown to many, the lyrics and melody of the song Deep in My Heart were practically a JMC creation in merely a few hours.

“Sometime in 1965,” he recalled, “Jimmy Alabanza, the manager of our band composed of my classmates in Ateneo, told me that we would be performing in a birthday party for a girl and he asked me to write a special song for her.

“It was 2 p.m. and the party was at 7 p.m. So I went into a room and I began to write the song, and the music just came together with the words. Usually, when I write a song I start with the music. Pero dito sa song na ito, sabay ang words and music.”

And that was how Deep in My Heart came to be.

? MR. SONGWRITER (that inspired the song Mamang Sorbetero)

A great majority of those who love Celeste Legaspi’s song Manang Sorbetero perhaps don’t know that it was inspired by JMC’s song Mr. Songwriter.

“I wrote Mr. Songwriter in 1973 as a protest to the declaration of Martial Law when they closed the TV networks. It was Gryk Ortaleza who wrote the Tagalog lyrics for Mamang Sorbetero.”

In my program, JMC read three love poems from the book of James J. Metcalfe and sang acapella some of his popular songs. He even recited the poems in poetic form. Indeed, it was a great moment to have “stopped and talked awhile” with JMC together with his music that comes from his heart which I am sure was deeply felt hy his listeners.

(Postscript: Meanwhile, here’s a message texted to Funfare by Jose Mari Chan: “At my and Maryann’s wedding Mass on March 10, 1970, the entrance hymn was Fill The World With Love from the movie Goodbye, Mr. Chips (starring Peter O’Toole and Petula Clark). It was sung by the group of Willy Cruz and Celeste Legaspi. And at our private golden wedding anniversary Mass in Baguio, our five children sang the same exact song as our entrance hymn.)

Outputs by her fans from the previous week

Student-idol uplifts fellow youth through online art challenges during quarantine

Another imaginative lady who has taken an appreciated initiative during this pandemic is student-idol Faith Shanrae Santiago, who adapted a unique approach to help keep students and her fans engaged during this period of home quarantine.

Faith is a “graduated member” of the local idol group MNL48, a franchise of the wildly popular AKB48 group in Japan. She has garnered a total of five consecutive appearances in the group’s singles, which are available on major streaming platforms and physical CDs.

Outputs by her fans from the previous week

She continues to promote as a local independent idol. She and others follow the aidoru system of Japan, wherein they are considered entertainers who sing and dance primarily pop music to the general public. Idol culture is widely admired in countries such as Japan and South Korea, where these performers are regarded as role models and inspiration by fans and the general public.

Meanwhile, during the quarantine, Faith encourages the community through her movement #YourOwnTake, to contribute their art and writing pieces to be published online on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, under her handle @faithshanrae.

Outputs by her fans from the previous week

“It’s a small project,” she admitted. “But I hope this mission creates a ripple of change.”

Each week, Faith comes up with an art or prose challenge which are then cascaded to her leagues of followers on social media.

“I prepared these tasks to uplift the spirits of the youth in quarantine. Since a lot are in their homes, we can use that time to hone our skills,” she stated.

Faith Shanrae Santiago, a Multimedia Arts student from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, aims to create a ripple of change through honing artistic skills of those currently in quarantine

“These talents in turn may be utilized to create art that sends a message to the public and most especially to those who need our support the most — our frontliners. We can likewise use our art to accumulate help for those who are most in need,” she continued.

Today, Faith continues to perform in conventions and affairs while she balances her studies as a multimedia arts student at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB).

Looking forward, the third OtaCute Cosplay Festival, a massive gathering of Japanese music enthusiasts at the Laperal YOU.suites in Manila, which has been postponed to a later date, will host Faith as she plans to perform a duet with De La Salle University Manila alumni Ashley Cloud Garcia (@ashley31garcia), along with J-pop girls performance unit Seishun Kakumei (@seishunkakumei) and newly-debuted cosplay idol group AIDreamin! (@aidreamin).

(E-mail reactions at For more updates, photos and videos, visit or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)


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