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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ogie Alcasid: turning heartaches as monster hits

Turn heartaches into monster hits. That’s Ogie Alcasid’s biggest contribution to humanity’s fight against global warming. Believe me his songs can make flowers bloom!

“It’s a force that evokes so many emotions. It’s so easy to draw from it when I’m writing songs. Heartache sells more than falling in love. It’s like a wickedly bitter coffee that’s so devilishly delicious when you sip it first thing in the morning when you wake up,” Ogie enthuses.

Ogie is the friend everyone wants to have. He is gentle, proper, funny; he also prefers to have sex with lights on. No, he doesn’t want to be taller. He’s tall, just smaller than Kobe Bryant. Everything about Ogie is big. “Small brother” is a misnomer to someone who has gigantic presence and charisma. Ogie proved that the ordinary can be extraordinary with tenacity, hard work, focus and a burning desire to be the best. And a huge talent that he nurtures with love and respect for his public. “I do think about my public when I write my songs. I will never write anything that is vulgar or demeaning and derogatory.”

“Songwriting for me is like painting to a painter. I will start something and if I can’t feel the flow, I will discard it and continue writing another day. If the creative juice gets going then I finish a song in one sitting.”

Try listening to Ogie’s songs and you will hear him tell a story that is so familiar because very often it is your story. Then you become friends because he articulates what your heart wants to say. His musical discourse is so Pinoy; his songs are the anthems of friends, neighbors, and countrymen who are battered by storms, jilted by lovers, violated by satanic fuel prices, broken by unfulfilled promises — but hopeful, always hopeful.

His songs both warm and rend the heart. They’re honest, surprising and fun.

Asked about his Top 5 all-time favorite songs that he composed, he wrote the following:

1. Kailangan Kita — It is sweet and loving. A very personal song that is close to my heart.

2. Ikaw Ang Aking Pangarap — My song for Regine.

3. Wag Ka Lang Mawawala — A song that reminds me of the inner turmoil I had during a very difficult time in my life.

4. Panginoon — My personal prayer to our Heavenly Father.

5. I Will Be Here — My song to my children.

Look at his choices carefully. You wouldn’t miss how personal he is with his musical poetry. They chronicle his journey. They capture his story so eloquently and somewhere in his songs, he tells every man’s story. And you are comforted or inspired because your words are his, his words are yours.

He says love is God without being messianic. And if Regine Velasquez were a flower, she would be sampaguita, very simple, fragrant and humble. And if he were an animal, he would be a dog because he would be man’s best friend.

Ogie’s odyssey hasn’t always been easy. He barged into the music industry armed with enormous talent and unwavering faith that a dream was going to come true. He’s always wanted to be a singer/composer. Amidst rough sailing, he stuck to his guns, fired them without hesitation when necessity called for it —survived and hallelujah, made it.

He took risks both personally and professionally. When music genres changed quicker than a blink, he continued to write songs of the heart. When the airwaves were dominated by angst, angry music, he stuck to his stories of love. He remained gentle amidst belligerent Trojan warriors, never doubting, never hesitating, never trembling.

Ogie always knew the core of his music. And this is his fundamental strength.

On the personal side, like all of us, he loved, lost, cried, laughed, stumbled. He came out wounded, scarred, broken and alive — humbled, happy, wiser and sexier. And yes, Ogie is sexy. (Go ask Regine!).

Ogie is a better man because of his music. His music is better because he is a better man.

He loves to talk about his music. “The hardest piece I wrote was the music for the animation movie, Urduja. The easiest would be Kailangan Kita. It just flowed. Some of the songs that I wrote in a lonely state of mind would be Wag Ka Lang Mawawala, Kahit Na Malayo Ka, Kung Mawawala Ka, Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang, Ikaw Sana. Some of the songs I wrote in my happy state would be, Pangarap Ko Ang Ibigin Ka, Mahal Kita Walang Iba, Kailangan Kita and Ikaw Ang Aking Pangarap.”

What about fame which can be toxic? What has it done to him? “It has humbled me. I feel indebted to every person that has had the experience of watching my shows or buying my music.”

On Regine’s birthday last April, Ogie wrote her a love letter. He continues to be a devoted father to his lovely kids. Last night of the world, who do you want to spend it with? I asked him. “My loved ones. Kahit si Scarlett Johansson na rin.”

If you were a song, what would you be? I whispered. “I’m Handog by Florante. Tatanda at lilipas din ako, ngunit may awitin….”

And I say, Bravo Ogie and thank you.

Last question, does size matter? Or should I be asking Ogie this question? I think I should reserve this for someone small.




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