Legends recall glory days of OPM

By Baby A. Gil
What is a legend? It is an unlikely story that has attained some vestige of truth after being handed down from generation to generation. Santa Claus distributing presents to good children on Christmas eve is a legend. If legend refers to a real person, then it describes somebody of great accomplishment. Think of a writer like Charles Dickens or a hero like Jose Rizal or in the realm of pop music, the likes of The Beatles.

In the case of the latter, the main ingredient that makes a legend are hit songs. Not just popular tunes, but breakthrough recordings that stand the test of time. Also not just one or two, but a lot. And lots of hits from the past three decades were what Rico Puno, Rey Valera, Nonoy Zuñiga, Claire de la Fuente, Joey Albert and Eva Eugenio served up last Dec. 30 at the Philippine International Convention Center.

For the first time in their long, illustrious careers the six singing stars were presented in concert as the Legends of OPM. And boy! Did they prove they deserve the title in the next two hours or so as they dished out well-remembered songs they themselves popularized. They also paid tribute to composers, other singers and other people, OPM legends like them, who helped create what is now referred to as the golden days of Filipino music.

One after another the songs came. Rico Puno, The Way We Were, Kapalaran, Macho Guwapito; Rey Valera, Kahit Maputi Na ang Buhok Ko, Tayong Dalawa, Naaalala Ka; Nonoy Zuñiga, Kumusta Ka, Love Without Time; Claire de la Fuente, Unang Pag-ibig, Something in Your Eyes; Joey Albert, Iisa Pa Lamang, Tell Me; Eva Eugenio, Pag-ibig Na Walang Dangal, Mahal Mo Ba Siya and Tukso.

As though buoyed up by the title legend, they all sang at their best. These Pinoys do have great voices and their own styles. Then led by the irrepressible Rico, they also kept the packed house in stitches with well-aimed gags. Put together by director Roxanne Lapuz and musical director Gerry Mathias for Viva Concerts and Events, the result was one of the most entertaining evenings ever.

It was, in truth, a show without CR moments because nobody wanted to miss anything. The audience stayed attentive throughout, warmly applauded every song and showed their appreciation by getting up on their feet twice in a heartfelt standing ovation. The last one even came with loud cheers as Nonoy got to Never Ever Say Goodbye.

The Willy Cruz composition was the last song in the cast’s final Signature Hits Medley. That was where Nonoy also did Doon Lang; Joey had A Million Miles Away and Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin; Rico did Buhat and May Bukas Pa; Claire sang Minsan-minsan and Sayang; Rey, Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo and Walang Kapalit; and Eva, Kunwari ay Ikaw and Ano ang Gagawin Kapag Wala Ka Na.

From there all it took was a single step to bring the awesome evening to its conclusion with the rousing disco tunes Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko and Sumayaw, Sumunod. And would you believe, unlike in other concerts where those bored with the proceedings and eager to go home, rushed to the exit to get to the parking lot first before the show ended, those who watched Legends of OPM stayed up to the last note.

It was so nice to see Rico, Rey and Nonoy in another all-hits show, to know that Claire is indeed back for good, that Joey is still as pretty as any prom queen and that Eva can still soar to the high C’s and can still put younger birit queens to shame. Best of all they were all Filipino talents performing Filipino songs.

Legends of OPM happened at a time when Filipino music is in the doldrums. It is an affirmation, a shout out for what the Filipino is capable of. There is hope yet. How can there not be when there is a past filled with songs like Magkasuyo Buong Gabi, Umagang Kay Ganda, Ako’y Isang Pinoy, Tayo’y Mga Pinoy, Bonggahan, Katawan, Beh Buti Nga, Annie Batumbakal and Bongga Ka Day, Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika, Hahanapin Ko, Ewan, Bulag, Pipi, Bingi, Ako ang Nagwagi, Be My Lady, Isang Mundo Isang Awit, Salamat Musika.

And so many more that the Legends will remind us of when they get together again for a repeat performance come February. Watch out for this one. It will be definitely even bigger.

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