Sarah pays tribute to great Filipino songs

By Baby A. Gil

Sarah Geronimo turned 24 years old last July 25. She marked the event with the concert 24/SG, in two memorable and best of all, sold-out nights at the Big Dome in Cubao, Quezon City. She sang and danced and was at her best throughout the shows to the delight of her fans.

In a few months, she will celebrate the 10th anniversary of her winning the Star For A Night, the first franchised reality singing contest in the Philippines. Sarah has actually been singing since she was all of three years old. But it was 10 years ago, when she made it to the top. Within the ensuing years, she conquered recording, concerts, films, TV and even product endorsements. She has, in truth, become the biggest star of the present generation.

I am not really sure about how many albums she has recorded since then. It seems like a lot. And with each one came the hits, Forever’s Not Enough, Sa Iyo, How Could You Say You Love Me, Ikaw, You Changed My Life and others. She was ready for another CD. Because she is now 24 and moving towards her 10th year of success, it felt like she should come up with something very special for her next one. I am happy that she did.

Sarah G’s latest is Pure OPM. The album is a collection of famous Filipino compositions from the Manila Sound era. And I must say that the songs are among the most beautiful and most enduring we have ever heard. And how nice to find out they have all been brought up to date with new exciting arrangements.

Now Sarah could have recorded these songs five or six years ago and made hits out of one or two. But I say it was fortunate that it didn’t happen. Because now is the right time. It is at this point in her career when she has finally earned the right to put her own touch on these classics. May karapatan na siya. Not only that, her singing is now matured enough to be able to put the right emotion into these songs.

The first single release is Tao, composed by Sampaguita and Gary Perez and arranged by Arnold Buena. Airplay is great, proof that DJs have accepted Sarah’s rock side. She also rocks hard in Freddie Aguilar’s Anak, which was arranged by Louie Ocampo and was recorded live during the 24/SG concert. My favorite cut is the Willy Cruz song, Doon Lang, which was arranged by Bobby Velasco. First recorded by Nonoy Zuñiga and later by Fernando Poe Jr., this is such a deceptively simple song that requires a sensitive interpreter and I love the way Sarah did it.

Then there is the moving Handog arranged by Melvin Morallos. Composed by folk-rock icon Florante, this must be the best expression of the life of a Filipino artist. This was covered successfully by Nora Aunor some 30 years ago, after which the song acquired cult status. Everybody loves the song but only those who have experienced what it says can do justice to it. Sarah, who had her share of hard knocks making the rounds of talent shows and barrio fiestas from an early age, feels every word.

It is really difficult picking out the best cuts from the album. Sarah’s singing has matured and she sounds great. And all of the songs are beautiful. Also included are Umagang Kay Ganda c-omposed by Butch Monseratt; Panalangin by Jim Paredes; Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin by Louie Ocampo and Joey Albert; Masdan Mo Ang Kapaligiran by Saro Banares and Lolita Carbon; Malayo Pa Ang Umaga by Rey Valera; Sana by Florante; Hanggang Sa Dulo Ng Walang Hanggan by George Canseco; and Kay Ganda Ng Ating Musika by Ryan Cayabyab.

OPM cannot die because it has composers who can write songs such as these, singers like Sarah and arrangers, background singers, producers, engineers, etc. who can make music. On the other hand though, these songs are all from around more or less 30 years ago. Can you think of something that would prove as popular and as enduring from a year ago?