Hitmaker Jose Mari Chan admits having a “mixed feeling” about being the center of attention each time the Christmas season approaches.
It has become almost a tradition among netizens to start posting memes about him on September 1, the beginning of the Christmas season in the Philippines.
How does Jose Mari feel about being the most-shared meme during the Christmas season?
The question was asked during a session of PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other Summit Media websites with the singer today, September 1, precisely the date when the memes about him begin sprouting on the Internet, especially on Twitter.
Although he appreciates the compliments, Jose Mari is ambivalent about being hailed an icon every Christmas.
He admits, “I have a mixed feeling about that. First of all, I don’t know who’s behind all those memes.
"I’m sure it was just started by two or three guys then the others followed suit.
"I feel complimented and blessed that I’m being associated with the most joyful season of the year, Christmas... the most meaningful season of the year, so I feel complimented.
"Secondly, sometimes, these memes could have an opposite effect. People could say, ‘Iyan na naman, wala na bang bago?’ Negative, ano?”
He then quips, “And on the other hand, someone told me, ‘Joe, they’re using the same picture for many years na.’
“So at least, in this regard, you never age, you look the same!”
Here are some of the tweets:
"CHRISTMAS IN OUR HEARTS"
Jose Mari has always been associated with Christmas mainly because of his hit song “Christmas In Our Hearts.”
Ironically, the song’s melody actually came from a different song of his that had nothing to do with Christmas.
Apparently, it all started in 1988 when Jose Mari’s late friend, Charie Cruz-Zarate, asked him to put a melody to her poem “Ang Tubig Ay Buhay.”
The song was to be sung by Charie and her batch during the silver jubilee of their high school class.
According to Jose Mari, “The poem was very well written, and I was inspired so it was easy for me to set it into music, and the class liked it and they sang it in their silver jubilee.
“And then after that, the song was forgotten I had it shelved."
In 1990, two years after, Jose Mari would remember the song when his recording label, Universal Records, asked him to do a Christmas album.
He narrates, “The record company Universal Records told me, ‘Joe, your album Constant Change is the first diamond record seller so I want you to strike while the iron is hot. Take advantage of this. Why don’t you make a Christmas album?’
“I said, ‘Oo nga, ano? I’ve never done a Christmas album, sige.’
“And then, I remember that melody ‘Ang Tubig Ay Buhay,’ which was catchy and happy. It was not sad so I said, ‘Sige, sige.’
“And then, I remember praying to the Holy Spirit to inspire me to write words, to add melody, appropriate words to deliver the message of Christmas, the real message of Christmas.
“Not ‘Jingle Bells,’ not ‘Rudolph: The Red-nosed Reindeer,’ not ‘Santa Claus.’ So I asked the Holy Spirit to inspire me.”
It seemed that Jose Mari’s prayer was answered one Sunday morning.
He recalls, “We were coming out of church from mass and there was a young lady who chased me and ran after me, and she knocked on the window of my car and she gave me her card.
“Sabi niya, ‘Mr. Chan, it is my dream sana na one day, you and I could co-write a song together because I am what you call an aspiring songwriter.’
"Her name was Rina Caniza. So, I said, ‘Okay, Rina. One day, I’ll give you a call.’
"Anyway, pumasok sa ulo ko ‘noh, why don’t I call her and maybe I could invite her to my house and let her hear the melody of ‘Ang Tubig Ay Buhay’ and maybe she could help me write the words.
“And so she came to the house, she heard the melody, and she helped me write the words, the lyrics of ‘Christmas In Our Hearts.’”
Today, after 31 years, Jose Mari is happy that the song still resonates with people of all ages.
He says with a smile, “So that gave birth to that song, which 31 years later I’m so blessed that the song is still sung by young and old people alike, year after year after year.
“It’s a gift from God, thank You, Lord. Every day, I give thanks for that.”