I’m 52 years old now, and for the last 40 years, Basil’s songs have been a constant companion. Last night, watching him, and hearing him sing the songs that we had all grown up with was one of the most memorable evenings of my life.
Music takes us to places in our heart that we thought we had forgotten. That’s what Basil’s songs did for me, and perhaps for so many others in my generation, at his 40th Anniversary concert at The Theatre at Solaire last night. Together with Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, Sharon Cuneta, the Ateneo Chamber Singers, the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, and Basil’s forever back-up singers — Babsie, Elise, and Sylvia, it was a magical, powerful, memorable nostalgic trip over the last forty years.
Basil’s songs, composed by the geniuses of our generation — Canseco, Cayabyab, De Pano, Francisco, Azarcon and many others — has accompanied me through many of my life’s milestones. Providing, exactly that — the soundtrack to many of my life’s unforgettable moments. And so, as Zi sat there last night, it was as if I was doing a life review, alternating between joy and pain. Marvelling at the genius and talent of everyone on stage, it was both a moving and awe-inspiring evening, “an OPM milestone” as my friend, Moy Ortiz describes it, and we are all gratefu to have witnessed it. But on a more personal level, it was like many of my life-changing moments being re-told, flashing in my mind’s eye like a movie, with Basil’s music transporting me back to the specific moment in time.
Hindi Kita Malilimutan
It is 1981, and I am 16 again grieving the sudden loss of my father who was only 49. I sit in a green dress (no black, my mother had said, and because green was the color of new life) that my dad had bought me on his last trip to Hong Kong. It is a warm and humid April summer’s day, and the summer before our Senior year. My high school classmates have graciously agreed to come and sing for my dad at the funeral mass in Sanctuario de San Jose in Greenhills.
“Hindi Kita Malilimutan” was composed by a very young Manoling Francisco, a for a class under Mr. Pagsi at the Ateneo High School. The first time I heard it, it spoke to my heart. I had asked my classmates if they could sing it at the mass for dad, and they did. It is the most vivid memory I have of that morning, and how it felt like my heart was going to burst in sadness as I my shoulders heaved as I sobbed while listening to my classmates sing this song.
I’m a high school senior and it’s our school fair. The sun bears down on the vast open field on the grounds I have known since I was seven years old. There are girls shrieking and a huge ferris wheel turns, while on the ground the caterpillar ride churns. It’s a perfect day and we’ve just changed from our green and white uniforms into casual wear. The boys from across the creek have just been dismissed and are now trickling into the fair. Some of them holding hands with their girlfriends; others standing awkwardly ogling their crushes. I look at them and smile, and then look up at the perfect blue skies and suddenly the song comes on. A few classmates and I sing along as we watch the young lovers walk across the field, and I secretly wonder to myself “When will it be my turn?”
Watch how Basil brought the house down with You. Ikaw
1994. My newborn son cradled in my arms, recently diagnosed with a congenital heart condition. I am weary both from a C-section and a lack of sleep. It is early in the morning and I am seated in the library of the house I grew up in, surrounded by many things familiar which is comforting. Dark wooden shelves filled with books my parents and I had read. Light breaks through the windows and my baby begins to cry. I stand up, and rock him gently back to sleep humming this song that had become my official lullabye for him.
Watch Basil’s moving performance of Ikaw.
Lead Me Lord
It’s June 4, 1998 and the first night of my son’s wake in the small chapel in White Plains. It’s the middle of the mass and I’m six months pregnant. Everything is surreal but I know that my heart has shattered into a thousand pieces. At the front of the altar is my son’s little white casket. I stare at it for a moment and then the choir begins to sing, my tears begin to fall as I focus on the lyrics of the beautiful song. “Walk by me, walk by me across the lonely road of everyday…” I look around and I see one of my dearest friends, just as heartbroken as I am. The sadness in my friend’s eyes makes me cry even more.
September 1998. I’m groggy as I lie on the operating table of the old Medical City and it’s a very happy moment. My anaesthesiologist, a darling of a man, is talking to me, and keeping me calm as my obstetrician, is busy cutting me open to bring my third child into the world. In the distance I hear music playing. It is my anaesthesiologist’s playlist. The music soothes and comforts me. “It’s a boy!” My ob says and they show me a huge, fair skinned bawling baby. I smile and just as my consciousness begins to fade, the last thing I remember are the lyrics to the song playing, “Iduyan mo, ang duyan ko…unti-unting itulak mo…”
Thank you Basil for the gift of your beautiful music, for giving heart and soul to such beautiful songs that accompany us through the different seasons of our life. May God continue to bless you with many more years as you continue to bless and comfort others with your heart and your gift of song. We love you, ngayon at kailan man.