A concert to remember

By Chris Evert Ruffolo |December 01,2017 - 11:08 PM

Jose Mari Chan with his sons

IT WAS a concert that took many people on a trip back to a time when lyrics and melodies reign supreme.

In an audience of more than 3,000 people inside the Pacific Grand Ballroom of Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino last Nov. 23, singer-songwriter Jose Mari Chan proved once more that Cebuanos appreciate good music in the company of a legendary icon.

When he sang “Deep in My Heart,” a single which came out in 1969, the entire ballroom was cloaked in “aahs” and “oohs” from individuals who most probably remembered their childhood and teenage years as this classic song was played on the radio.

When he sang “Tell Me Your Name,” I was taken back to the late 90’s when my mother put together 35 karaoke songs in one VHS tape and that Jose Mari Chan song was third in the list.

He did not sing “Sing Me Your Song Again Daddy” (which was fifth in our karaoke song sequence on our VHS tape) though as it is best sung by a woman (Cherrie Gil, yes?).

The crowd turned on a beautiful mushy mood when he brought in Cebuano singer Anna Fegi-Brown for a duet of—what else—“Please Be Careful With My Heart,” which became the title and official soundtrack of a top-rating daytime TV drama on ABS-CBN top-billed by Richard Yap and Jodi Sta. Maria.

He sang another song, “A Love to Last a Lifetime,” which became the inspiration (and soundtrack) of a primetime drama series which starred Bea Alonzo and Ian Veneracion.

Chan has spent 50 years in the music industry and his mastery of words and melody shows in the songs that he wrote and the positive spirit he dedicates in every performance.

At 72 years old, he continues to be upbeat, delivering one joke after another that night which showcased the different side of this Iloilo-born artist. It was a night of celebration in the company of family and friends.

Chan himself brought along his wife, Mary Ann, and three sons, Jose Antonio, Michael Philip and Franco who performed with him that night.

Inviting Chan to Cebu was a fitting pre-Christmas concert organized by the Zonta Club of Cebu, an organization of empowered women working towards the improvement of the legal, political, economic, educational, health and professional aspects in the lives of women through service and advocacy.

Zonta 1 will celebrate their 50th founding anniversary next year.

A portion of the concert proceeds will be donated to Cebu City Young Ladies Association of Charity School Foundation Inc.

(YLAC) and will also fund Zonta 1’s projects. The concert was directed by Zontian Mila Espina who was instrumental in many musicales and productions several years back for the purpose of raising funds for Zonta 1’s activities.

Earlier in the evening, Chan mentioned how much he enjoyed having breakfast at Casa De Cacao where he was treated to a sumptuous meal by Cebu’s Chocolate Queen, Raquel Choa.

He shared about his “delightful lunch” at Choobi-Choobi, a restaurant owned by the family of Zonta 1’s past president Rufina Tanchan.

Outside of the ballroom, copies of the commemorative publication of Zonta 1’s 50 years of women in service were displayed. Zontians Janette Nellie Chiu and Linda Binghay were on top of this project with the assistance of past presidents Espina, Tanchan and Tess Chan.

By the end of the night, Chan sang “Christmas In Our Hearts,” the unofficial official Christmas anthem of the Philippines.

Tight hugs and kind words were exchanged in the audience; it was a joy to be in the company of people who enjoyed music and basked in the love of family and friends.

What was special to me that night was witnessing how the Zontians themselves worked to usher people in the venue and totally playing the role of the event’s foot soldiers.

They worked the whole evening – and the days, weeks and months leading to the concert graced by Jose Mari Chan. It was a night to remember for the songs sang by an incredible man and the service rendered by a group of empowered women.

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