Last time, PEP [Philippine Entertainment Portal] presented Part 1 of some of the best Filipino song composers in recent memory. The names included in this list are those who made an impact on mainstream music through a succession of hit songs—songs that left a mark, not just in the charts but in the hearts of the Filipino listeners as well.
Aside from the hits and their lasting impact, this list also comprises artists, who, one way or the other, revolutionized the OPM landscape through their creativity and Filipino sensibility.
VEHNEE SATURNO. Like most artists, Vehnee Saturno was discouraged by his mother from pursuing music as a career; dreading the stereotyped perception that sex, drugs and rock n' roll go together.
But Vehnee went against his mother's wish and courageously dropped his job as a collector and meter reader in 1980 to follow his heart. Painstakingly honing his chops, Vehnee emerged victorious in a songwriting contest in 1982. Immediately after collecting his reward, the budding songwriter went home to personally hand the trophy and cash money to his mother.
Vehnee's first commercial hit was the powerful ballad "Be My Lady," interpreted by a young crooner named Martin Nievera. The song served as a breakthrough for both Martin and Vehnee.
There was no looking back since. Some of the most memorable tunes written by Vehnee include "Nag-iisang Ikaw," "Sana Kahit Minsan," "Mula Sa Puso," "Simple Lang," "Dahil Tanging Ikaw," "Kaba," "Till My Heartaches End," "Forever's Not Enough," among many others.
REY VALERA. After being part of a band named Electric Hair for seven years, Rey Valera decided to take on a solo route as a songwriter. It was all guts, heart, and ear for the Meycauayan, Bulacan native, as he didn't have any formal musical training to back him up.
Valera's first official hit was the song "Ako Si Superman," which he originally wrote for crooner Rico J. Puno. The song fell into his own lap, however, when a Vicor Records executive asked the fledgling songwriter to cut it himself in 1977. His career would ultimately take on that pattern—writing songs for others as well as for himself.
Some of the songs authored by Rey were "Sorry Na, Puwede Ba," "Daigdig Ng Ala-ala," "Pangako" and Ayoko Na Sa ‘Yo," to name a few.
But one lasting achievement of Valera was writing songs for Sharon Cuneta. In fact, it was Rey who penned Sharon's first major hit when the latter was still an unknown 12-year-old. When he was given the task, Rey admitted feeling uncertain since he felt Sharon was way too young to render a serious tune, yet he didn't want to craft something in the mold of a nursery rhyme.
Riding inside a jeepney, Rey crafted the song "Mr. DJ" and in the process, catapulted Sharon's young career to the top. Rey followed it up with "Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko." The friendship between the two stood the test of time; when Sharon separated from husband Gabby Concepcion, Rey wrote the song "Kahit Wala Ka Na" as a battle cry for his good friend.
A man with many musical talents, Rey also gained popularity writing movie theme songs such as "Pangako Sa ‘Yo" and "Sinasamba Kita" among others. Aside from these titles, Rey also popularized the songs "Kung Tayo'y Magkakalayo," "Malayo Pa Ang Umaga," "Kung Kailangan Mo Ako" and "Maging Sino Ka Man"—a song he wrote for women who work in nightclubs and bars.
JOSE MARI CHAN. Born in Iloilo on March 11, 1945, Jose Mari Chan attended college at the Ateneo de Manila University where he graduated in 1967 with a degree in economics.
A businessman who is a songwriter at heart, Jose Mari experienced his first hit also in 1967 when he released his first single titled "Afterglow." A prolific songwriter, Jose Mari wrote movie theme songs from 1970 to 1974. He eventually stayed in the United States for 10 years and he continued to write songs for local artists and even for foreign artists.
The melody of Celeste Legaspi's folk hit "Mamang Sorbetero" was actually derived from Chan's "Mr. Songwriter."