If you’re a radio buff, you must have heard the song “Malapit Na Ang Pasko” as it has become one of the Christmas songs played on the radio, AM or FM band, this holiday season.
And guess who sang and recorded the song? John Melo!
John Melo who?
If the name doesn’t ring a bell, it means you were either out of the country in the late 80s, or you weren’t born yet.
But, John Melo is one of those who made waves in the late 80s and in 1992 his name nearly became synonymous to OPM with the tune “Ikaw Pala ang Minamahal” that gave him an Awit award for Best New Male Performance.
Showbiz was not his priority, he recalled at a brief meeting last week. He said, at the time when his contemporaries were really passionate and motivated to make a name in the music industry, like Ariel Rivera and Chad Borja, he was focused on finishing dentistry (which he did). Eventually, he would migrate first to Canada and then the United States with his young family. (He is married to a dentist, Precilyn Silvestre, and they had one child then. Now, they have three children, two are teenaged and one is just eight.)
Showbiz folk in the Philippines believe that once you’ve stepped into the entertainment door, you could step out but your heart remains inside. And that exactly what happened to John. While engaged in another profession (real estate and dental management), his mind intermittently has been snowed under, as the saying goes, with thoughts of doing something showbizzy.
His friends egged him continually and even suggested he met with songwriter and fellow émigré Jimmy Borja (which he did) to ask him to write a Christmas tune for him.
The result is “Malapit Na Ang Pasko” and he uploaded it onto his Facebook page after recording it last year in San Francisco. To date, it has over three million views, and his friends in the US have tagged him as the OFW Prince of Christmas Song.
Motivated by the response of fellow Filipinos overseas to his Christmas ditty, he decided to fly back to Manila and promote it in the Philippines. Thus far, he has been elated that there are still people in the industry that remembers me.
Long-time fan magazine writer now radio commentator Christy Fermin interviewed John in her program on TV5 radio. He also made a guest appearance in Wowowin with host Willy Revillame.
“Alay ko talaga ang kantang ito sa mga gaya kong OFWs. Alam ko ang pinagdadaanan ng mga kababayan natin at dinanas ko na rin yan,” John said.
His 1992 album Hanap-Hanap Kita from where the hit single “Ikaw Pala ang Minamahal” was taken, was certified Gold. Vehnee Saturno wrote the tune for Ivory Records.
In1994, John also recorded another album, Magtiwala Ka with the carrier single “Basta’t Mahal Kita” that Saturno also penned.
While the number of views of John’s Christmas song continues to grow, comparisons with “Sana Ngayong Pasko” by Ariel Rivera and “Pasko na Sinta ko” by Gary V are becoming inevitable. But, for John Melo, his only dream now is to be on the same tracks as Jose Mari Chan who is known to many Filipinos as the “Father of Christmas,” thanks to his Christmas ditty that has become Philippines’ national Christmas anthem.
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Gary shares love to fellow Albayanos
Gary Valenciano visited Camalig, his hometown in Albay on Nov. 29 to give back to his fellow Camaligueños through a series of medical, dental, optical missions, and wheelchair distribution. It was made possible through the partnership between CBN Asia’s humanitarian arm, Operation Blessing Foundation Philippines, and Shining Light Foundation, Inc.
Valenciano went up close and personal to the beneficiaries by visiting them as they had their doctor’s check-ups. He also led the distribution of school supplies to the students of Camalig North Central School.
“It has always been my heart’s desire to meet with beneficiaries face-to-face. It fuels me to continue in entertaining and blessing people,” Valenciano shared.
After the students watched an episode of CBN Asia’s children’s animated series, Superbook, Valenciano treated the residents of Camalig in a mini concert. He did not only entertain the audience but also encouraged them by sharing his personal battle against sickness.
Valenciano, who has been a partner of Operation Blessing for over 20 years expressed how grateful he is for the opportunity he had been given to bless others. “This is the perfect organization to be a part of. When you talk about Operation Blessing, you are talking about an organization that would not be around for that long if they are not doing things the right way,” he added. He shared how amazed he is to see a network of doctors and volunteers coming together to have a huge impact in a community.
For Valenciano, giving back to his hometown is his way of serving God. “I do not really need to do this, but I’m driven to do it. If I can go out of my way to go to far-off places, to speak, touch, and reach out to people, then I would gladly do it,” he said.
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