Thursday, March 02, 2006

George Canseco

Music is one of my passions which is why I hold a very deep respect for musicians... probably even deeper than the respect that I hold for mathematicians and scientists. It never ceases to amaze me how they are able to touch thousands of lives through melodies and words, how their works are able break down the barriers of time and often times even geography so long as the language are the same.
George Canseco was one of the Philippines' greatest composers. He lived a very colorful life which is reflected through his songs. Below is an article I clipped from "The Inquirer" which hopefully will give you an idea of the man behind the songs which touched our lives.

First posted 02:32am (Mla time) Nov 20, 2004
By Nini Valera
Inquirer News Service
Editor's Note: Published on page A1 of the November 20, 2004 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

GEORGE Canseco is dead.

The songwriter, who wrote some of Pinoy pop music's most enduring classics, died of liver cancer at 10 a.m. yesterday at the Kidney Institute. He was 70. His enduring ballads -- all sad, sentimental songs about having loved and lost -- will forever be part of Filipino pop culture. Like his song says, "Ngayon at Kailanman."

Canseco's wake will be held at the Phil-Am Life chapel in Quezon City starting today. Interment will be announced later. The songwriter was diagnosed with liver cancer only last week. He is survived by three children-Carl, Rachel and Nancy, according to Dr. Ric Berbano, one of Canseco's sons-in-law. Canseco's wife Flora died of breast cancer in 1996. An older brother, Rafael, died of cancer of the pancreas on Nov. 10, according to another brother, Andring.

Canseco was also a councilor of the 4th district of Quezon City. He once said that he entered politics "just for fun," but ended up serving for nine years. The last time Inquirer Entertainment saw Canseco was on Nov. 12. He exchanged jokes with longtime best friend, record and movie producer Vic del Rosario, and insisted on having a picture taken with him. The picture was shot by songwriter Heber Bartolome, who also came to visit. Minutes after chatting with his friends, Canseco was brought to the hospital's intensive care unit. Shortly after Canseco entered the hospital for the last time, he called up Del Rosario, asking him to look into the George Canseco tribute that was being prepared by the Aliw Foundation. The songwriter had earlier asked Del Rosario to fast-track the event.

Canseco was also in the running for National Artist for music."I hope he gets it in this lifetime," Del Rosario said last week. Four decades of OPM Canseco's music career spanned almost four decades of pop music, interpreted by the country's top recording artists. He started writing songs when he was 20.

The first time he sold a song to a record label was in 1966. The song, "Kapantay ay Langit," was recorded by Amapola, and then by Pilita Corrales, who turned it into a classic. In 1978, Canseco wrote "Ngayon at Kailanman." The song, an undying paean to love, launched the solo career of Basil Valdez, one of the lead singers of Circus Band. Basil was one of his favorite singers. "Basil feels," Canseco told Inquirer Entertainment during an interview for a "Yesterday" feature last month. "He sings with his heart and soul." Basil also interpreted another classic "Ikaw," which Canseco wrote for his wife Flora.

Canseco's last recorded song was "Nasaan Ka Man," which he wrote for Martin Nievera's 2002 album. 300 songs "May ibubuga pa ako (I still have something to show)," he said in the "Yesterday" feature of Inquirer Entertainment. "That's why I am still alive. There are still songs I have to write-that's why I am still here." But in the same interview, he also said: "I can go anytime. I would have no regrets if I go now."

By his own estimate, Canseco had written about 300 songs. These were sung by Basil, Kuh Ledesma, Sharon Cuneta, Regine Velasquez, Pilita, Dulce, ZsaZsa Padilla, Leah Navarro, among other top singers. His collaboration with record producer Vic del Rosario, whom Canseco credited to have discovered him, had produced some of the best-selling record albums of Original Pilipino Music in the '70s and '80s, released under Vicor Music Corp. and Black Gold Records. Del Rosario now runs Viva Records.

In 1981, former first lady Imelda Marcos commissioned Canseco to write "Ako Ay Pilipino" in time for the inauguration of then President Ferdinand Marcos, who won another term in a snap presidential election he had called that year.

P1.5M for a song

Canseco said that Marcos paid him P1.5 million to write the song, which was interpreted by Kuh Ledesma. The song also became the theme for a bank's television commercial. The songwriter also brought honor to the country by winning in foreign music festivals. The song "Ako ang Nagwagi," interpreted by Dulce, lost in the Metro Pop Music Festival in 1978. But it brought home top honors for Canseco and the country from the Hong Kong Music Festival the same year. The following year, he bagged the grand prize in the Metro Pop Music Festival with the song "Ngayon," interpreted by Basil Valdez. He also wrote music for the movies and won countless awards for his scores. However, Canseco was not proud of his movie scores, because "not one of them stands out."

He composed his last film score in 1989 for "Paano Ang Ngayon Kung Wala Nang Bukas," which starred Kring Kring Gonzales and Ronaldo Valdes. He also wrote the movie's theme song, "Sana'y Wala Nang Wakas," sung by Basil. Canseco wrote jingles for radio and television commercials. Like his songs, these jingles were also timeless. A jingle for a cigarette commercial which he wrote in the '70s is still being used today.

Musical roots

He was the youngest of three children of Jose Canseco, a doctor of medicine from Cavite, and Ceferina Masangkay, a mathematician from Antipolo. Canseco did not have any formal musical training, although he studied piano as a young boy and learned how to write notes.He did not use any musical instrument to write his music. Instead, he played the song in his head and later wrote it on paper.

He also wrote lyrics for the songs of other composers like Willy Cruz, D'Amarillo, Amado Trivinio, Homer Flores, Ryan Cayabyab, among others. "I have this talent for imagining a situation and then writing a song," he said. Canseco revealed that he was crying when he wrote "Paano," which was sung by Pilita and Dulce. "He's actually a cry baby," screenwriter Bibeth Orteza described Canseco. "He's the most sentimental person I have ever known."

A graduate of journalism from the University of the East, Canseco worked as a journalist from 1964 to 1972. He was also an editor for the Associated Press and the Philippines Herald. But writing songs was his true passion. Through his songs, Canseco lives on.


Anonymous Kas said...

I'm very impressed...

Ah this is all so neat to learn about him! His daughter (Nancy) is actually dating my father, and we were just talking about this at dinner today. I've been meaning to look him up, and this by far has been the best site to learn about him!

Very nice. :)

1:49 PM  
Blogger Joseph Lim said...

George Canseco compose a jingle for our company Universal Steel Smelting Co., Inc. sometime in the late 1970's and was interpreted by Basil Valdez.

Our company is already on its 45th or maybe 46th year of operation and we are very interested to obtain a copy of the jingle.

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

George Canseco had an older son w/ his 1st family. His name is George Canseco Jr. Why wasn't he mentioned?

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is My GrandFather!
My mom is his Daughter (Rachel)
My mom Told me that he had 2 Children before he married my grandmother Flora. Ethel and I think it is Gary. Well Lolo George Mahalki ta (I Love you)

12:29 AM  

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