This May, YES! magazine bids farewell to one of the biggest influences in OPM, Francis Magalona. While Francis may have succumbed to his battle against leukemia, his spirit lives on as YES! gives an exclusive look into Francis’ childhood, the beginnings of his love for the arts, and his undying devotion to his wife Pia and their eight children.
Becoming the Master Rapper
Francis broke into public consciousness when he was launched in the highly-successful '80s classic Bagets 2, but his movie career was plagued with frustrations. Pia tells YES!, “During that time, uso no’n ‘yong freezing of contracts. So they froze him. He couldn’t do movies for other people, but they don’t wanna give him naman projects. So, parang nawalan siya ng gana.”
This led him back to his first love—hip-hop. Francis would write down rhymes and practice them in front of his family, and Pia says, “We’d even go to Subic, and he’d practice his microphone skills there.” Upon discovering the U.S. military bases there, Francis would frequently hit the bars in town and search for people to engage in a freestyle battle of improvised rapping. “My siblings would make fun of him and say ‘What’s that? That’s just noise.’ E ako, sobrang bilib ako, aliw na aliw ako,” Pia tells YES!. “So totally, ine-encourage ko talaga siya na gawin ‘yon."
With Pia’s encouragement and Francis’ growing frustration about what was going on in the country at the time –Pia says, “He was parang naiinis na everybody wants a handout and he’d say “All they want to do is sit there and then they want the government to provide for everything for them. E, I want to tell them that they’re lazy!’”—his first single “Mga Kababayan Ko” was born.
Francis’ brother-in-law Mike Arroyo (not the First Gentleman) says, “Before, everyone was telling him, ‘Mga Kababayan Ko’—baduy ‘yan. Pero naging number one hit across the land! Talagang it was a phenomenon, di ba? It became almost like an anthem.”
Mentoring new talents
Francis M never left the music scene since then, and his credentials soon included songwriter, record producer, actor, music-video director, and photographer. Even Eat Bulaga co-star Michael V idolized Francis, as he said in his eulogy, “Hindi ako makapaniwalang mami-meet ko ang idol ko sa rap, pero nangyari ‘yon no’ng pumasok ako sa industriya at na-meet ko siya sa backstage ng Manilyn Live!, at siya pa mismo ‘yong lumapit sa akin. Kaya on our first meeting I learned humility from him right away.” Seeing that Francis M had no alalay, driver, or bodyguard inspired Michael V to live the same way. “Sabi niya, ano raw ang saysay ng pagbili mo ng kotseng gustong-gusto mo pero hindi mo naman e-enjoyin ang pagmamaneho?” he says.
The rapper Gloc 9considers Francis a major influence in his music, and even if the two had become friends, he still refers to the Master Rapper as “sir”. He tells YES!, “Napakalaki ng utang na loob ko sa kanya, dahil kung ano ang respect na nakukuha ko sa tao, it’s because of him. Siguro never darating ‘yong time na maka-claim ako ng something na idi-disregard ko ang pangalan niya.”
YES! devotes almost 30 pages to Francis M, featuring 148 private photographs from Francis’ personal albums, and the photographs that detail his battle with leukemia and the outpouring of love and support from his family and friends upon his death.
The May issue of YES! magazine is now available in newsstands, bookstores, and supermarkets nationwide.