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Entertainment

Jonathan Manalo’s love affair with music continues to thrive

Jerry Donato - The Philippine Star
Jonathan Manaloâs love affair with music continues to thrive
Jonathan, also known as Mr. Music, celebrates his two decade-long career this year and carries on his love affair with music by writing and producing more songs. ‘I’m a music fan first,’ says he of how he caught the music bug. ‘They (my family) would tell me that when I was three or about that age, wala daw akong ibang ginawa kundi nakatitig daw ako sa turntable namin. I was amazed at how the sounds were coming out from it, yung sound na ang ganda, na iba-iba ang instruments (that are) blending together. Sometimes, it’s just instrumental, sometimes, it’s with a voice. I’m so fascinated with the sound, with the music.’

MANILA, Philippines — His desire and devotion to songwriting and record producing are definitely strong.

That’s why music to Jonathan Manalo, as one may put it, is a passion more than a profession. His musical talent never fails to entertain and inspire the artist in him and his audiences. Given the rate his career is going, traversing from pre-pandemic and pandemic to new-normal times, Jonathan, also known as Mr. Music, shows no signs of slowing down or is never resting on his laurels. His love affair with music remains intact and thriving.

“I chose to continue (what I had started then in music) because my heart is in it,” Jonathan, creative director of ABS-CBN Music, looked back on his musical journey, in a recent virtual small group interview. He entered the local music industry as an up-and-coming songwriter with the composition, Tara Tena, at the 2001 Himig Handog Song Fest that awarded him the grand prize. Two years after, he emerged as winner at the Metropop Song Festival.

Prior to this, Jonathan earned a degree in advertising, with honors, magna cum laude, from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

“I have what ifs like what if I pursued a career in advertising, na nag-apply pa din ako, and I rejected (declined) the music projects that were given to me,” shared he. “There was that possibility that I would not accept music projects or I would do them on the side kasi mag-a-apply na ako ng work… pero siyempre susundin mo yung heart mo (but you have to follow the desire of your heart).”

Jonathan did listen to the beat of his heart for music, and put aside a possible lucrative career in creating campaigns and commercials for product and institution accounts.

“(Part of) my practice back in college was to write copies and then make catchy singles,” recalled he. “Somehow, hindi magkalayo, I have what ifs but no regrets.”

Before he discovered his interest in advertising, Jonathan had already developed a liking to music at a very young age.

“Sa totoo lang, bago ko sabihin na songwriter and song producer ako, I’m a music fan first,” said he. “I’m really a music fan. They (my family) would tell me that when I was three or about that age, wala daw akong ibang ginawa kundi nakatitig daw ako sa turntable namin (I was just staring at our turntable). Nakatitig lang ako dun, I was amazed at how the sounds were coming out from it, dun sa umiikot, tapos may needle lang. Na-a-amaze ako dun sa naririnig kong sound, as I recall it, yung sound na ang ganda, na iba-iba ang instruments (that are) blending together. Sometimes, it’s just instrumental, sometimes, it’s with a voice. I’m so fascinated with the sound, with the music.”

Then, Jonathan vividly remembered that when he was five, he would compose his own nursery rhymes instead of him singing the popular rhymes children his age were familiar with. “Gagawa ako ng sarili (kong nursery rhymes) not knowing that I was already composing, not knowing that I was making my own original nursery rhymes, I (had) my own song about time with the title Oras. I had a song about a carinderia (kitchenette) in our neighborhood, ang carinderia ni Aling Mameng,” said he.

By doing so, innocently and playfully, Jonathan had cleared the ground and laid down his music foundation. Unknown to him, he, in some extent, did shape his future or had a glimpse of it by discovering his innate gift to make lyrics and melody. “I didn’t know it would be my journey,” said he. Jonathan is destined to be the songwriter and record producer that he has become today.

“Sabi ko, ‘Kung yan ang nakikita ninyo na parang naging life ko, OK lang,’” said Jonathan of being named Mr. Music. “Hindi lang ako ang pwedeng tawaging Mr. Music. Kumbaga it can be anyone (whose love for music) has played a big role in his life. What I can say is, (when) I learned to appreciate arts, I was naturally gravitated to music, nung natuto akong mag-create, music yung natuto akong unang i-create. So, I would say… my life as well as my fortunes, my pain, my experience, everything, are connected to music. Merong mga taong pareho na ganito din sa akin (and) they can also be called Mr. Music.”

Jonathan said he is very grateful to be associated to this song or that song as a songwriter, a co-writer or a producer.

From what one can glean upon the information his team has given this paper, Jonathan has produced and released more than 200 albums for various artists, has had over 300 compositions like Pinoy Ako, Ililigtas Ka Niya, Para Lang Sa’Yo and Kabataang Pinoy, and has produced more than 100 TV and movie soundtracks and theme songs.

“Ang dami ko na palang nagawang songs and hindi ko naramdaman na naging uninspired ako, na napagod ako ever (Looking back, I’ve done a lot of songs and I’ve never ever felt being uninspired or weary),” reflected Jonathan, “pero kung tutuusin dapat nakakapagod yun (But if you will think about, it should be tiring). Since I like what I’m doing, yun nga, sabi ko nga, itutulog mo lang yan. Then, the next day, you’re inspired again.”

What can music-loving Pinoys look forward to from Mr. Music this year and in the coming years?

Well, since Jonathan celebrates his two decade-long career this year, he will release his 20th anniversary album in October that features 20 of his songs, being reimagined by singers. Example is his Pinoy Tayo, as sung by Rico Blanco.

“There’s a lot of exciting surprises,” said Jonathan, who added that Regine Velasquez, Gary Valenciano, Ben&Ben and Moira dela Torre, as some of the artists who will grace the musical project. He will also mount a 20th anniversary concert to be held at the Resorts World.

His songs, too, will also be highlighted in the musical series titled Lyric & Beat, with Andrea Brillantes, Seth Fedelin and Darren Espanto as among the featured stars.

Hands down, Jonathan Manalo will continue to create songs and his music is here to stay.

(For updates on Jonathan Manalo’s projects, visit his official Facebook, Twitter and IG pages @JonathanManalo.)

JONATHAN MANALO

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