I don’t know about most people but for me, I have associated many special moments with music. As far as my career as a talent manager is concerned, music-filled my life.
I started as an Artist Manager officially in 1980 with Kuh Ledesma. I had produced her first major solo concerts and transitioned into being her Manager. Although our professional management didn’t last long, it started me on my life-long career. I went on to manage many of the famous names of the ‘80s.
Call it fate; call it luck, because just as I entered into the world of artist management, our local music scene was becoming more exciting. American songs were still popular among Pinoys; this type of songs still dominated the airwaves. However, Filipino singers, bands, and musicians were creating more original songs and our countrymen were finally starting to listen to buy their records, to request their songs on the radio, and follow their gigs on TV, live venues, and campus tours. This was a continuation of the Manila Sound of the ‘70s. I was in high school in St. Theresa’s College when the Manila Sound became big. My friends and I listened to Hotdog, VST & Co., Rico J. Puno, Basil Valdez, and Celeste Legaspi (who eventually became my artist and creative partner, but I am getting ahead of my story).
I don’t know why I gravitated to singers and to the music industry in general. I am not a musical person. I don’t play any instrument. I don’t listen to music when I am at home or when I am in the car. I don’t even sing in the shower. I did manage our high school glee club but I was always just in the background getting things together.
But I am very sentimental. If there is one thing that music does so effectively, it evokes emotions and memories; it moves people. A song can become a couple’s wedding theme, a cherished anthem of a generation, a tune to celebrate a special occasion or part of a break-up playlist that can help someone move on… If you can’t articulate how you feel in words, just express yourself in a song.
Perhaps it is music’s sentimental appeal that has gotten me hooked all these years. As songs define the careers of artists I manage, songs are guideposts of our lives; they are symbolic of times in our lives.
To illustrate, let me cite some stories behind my artists’ hit songs.
Ric Segreto’s song “Give Me A Chance” is a special story. Ric was one of my early talents, one of the first to trust me, a newbie manager, to chart his career. In 1982, Ric and I met with a very young songwriter named Odette Quesada, and her Lola. Odette was looking for a male singer to interpret her song that got in the Metro Manila Popular Music Festival a.k.a. Metropop.
The Metropop was a big deal back then. Previous Metropop festivals had produced Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika composed by Ryan Cayabyab and interpreted by Hajji Alejandro; Pagdating Mo by Nonoy Gallardo interpreted by Celeste Legaspi; Anak by Freddie Aguilar; Ewan composed by Louie Ocampo and Winnie Arrieta and interpreted by The Apo Hiking Society; Lupa composed by Charo Unite and Ernie dela Peña and interpreted by Rico J. Puno; Isang Mundo, Isang Awit composed by Nonong Pedero and interpreted by Leah Navarro… All were amazing songs that eventually became timeless hits. The Metropop was the launchpad for new Pinoy singers and composers/songwriters. Getting in would mean good exposure.
But more than the prospect of being part of a prestigious OPM event, Ric and I were more thrilled about the song. We liked the uncomplicated melody and the heartfelt lyrics. We agreed to the offer of Odette and her Lola. Ric became the interpreter of Odette’s Give Me A Chance at the 5th Metropop. The song won second prize in the Amateur Division. The title was so prophetic. The song introduced these two gifted artists to the music industry. Give Me A Chance launched Ric as a balladeer and paved the way for Odette’s illustrious and prolific career as a songwriter. It marked the start of Ric and Odette’s collaboration. After some time, Odette gave Ric the song Hopeless Romantic (Don’t Know What To Do, Don’t Know What To Say).
Ric’s discography is limited; his career was cut short by a motorcycle accident in 1998. But many of the songs he recorded became OPM classics and are still sung and loved by people to this day.
When I was listening to Celeste Legaspi during my high school years, I did not imagine that I would one day become her manager and close friend. I still felt surreal when her sister who was immigrating talked to me in the early 1980s to ask me to take over management of the diva behind the hit Tuliro and the immensely popular ditties Saranggola ni Pepe, and Mamang Sorbetero.
Although seemingly daunting, I said “yes” to Celeste’s beloved sister. That decision marked the start of an almost 40-year partnership with Celeste (and still counting).
Together, Celeste and I would collaborate on several concerts, original musicals, music projects, and also films. Aside from our much-talked-about Ang Larawan stage musical and film, one of my favorite projects our very first original musical by Ryan Cayabyab and Jose Javier Reyes with Celeste is Katy!—a stage musical based on the life of Katy de la Cruz, the Philippines’ Queen of Vaudeville and Jazz.
There’s a song in Katy! that speaks of an artist’s love for the ephemeral art of music and performing: Minsan Ang Minahal Ay Ako is a singer’s ode to the harsh world of show biz yet also a testimony to the lasting legacy of music.
Change of Heart
Rachel Alejandro is one of my long-time talents. I began managing her in the ‘90s when she was making a transition from That’s Entertainment mainstay and actress in teenybopper flicks, to a more mature and versatile performer. In her late teens, Rachel popularized danceable ditties like Mr. Kupido and Kulang sa Pansin.
When she came under my management, we started work on her album entitled Sentimental. The songs in this album were more mature and soulful, befitting the image of a serious artist she was to become. One of the songs in Sentimental was Paalam Na that Rachel composed with her then singer-composer boyfriend. The song became a huge hit! The heart-wrenching melody, coupled with the painful lyrics and, most importantly, Rachel’s moving interpretation sealed the deal. Paalam Na, embodied the “hugot” phenomenon long before the term “hugot” became a household word. The song became the anthem and antidote of the “sawi sa pag-ibig.”
The OPM Legacy
There are many stories behind the Philippines’ contemporary music heritage and these are preserved in the OPM Archive, a living library of OPM dating from the 1960s until today. The archive features photos, videos, and, of course, music. The archive is currently online; but when the pandemic is done, we hope to open a physical archive where music fans can see, feel, hear, and relive the wonderful OPM memories.
As I mentioned, the OPM Archive is a “living library.” That is why we, the board—composed of Celeste as Chairman, Moy Ortiz as President, Krina Cayabyab as Vice President, Dinah Remolacio as Treasurer, Chevy Salvador as Secretary and I and Tats Rejante Manahan as Advisors—is encouraging everyone to contribute photos, videos, clips, posters, vinyl records, tapes, OPM memorabilia, etc., to make this archive truly inclusive.
Memories must be preserved. It’s important for people to know the stories behind the creative process. Music preserves special moments in our lives but this archive will retain it for future generations. The information will help other aspiring musical artists in the future. Our nation’s music is part of our heritage.
*Please follow me on Instagram (@showbizmanila), Twitter (@showbizmanila) and on Facebook (GR Rodis).
Girlie Rodis, fondly called GR, is a talent manager, producer for film, concert, and stage, ana marketing executive. She is President and CEO of her company Global Resource Creative Exchange Inc. Together with Celeste Legaspi, and Rachel Alejandro, GR is founder and co-executive producer of Culturtain Musicat Productions.
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