Edsa I song ‘Magkaisa’ still very relevant today, says Sotto
MANILA, Philippines – It was not a volley of gunfire but a unifying music that flowed out from a man, who found himself caught between the warring rebels and the government forces during the first People Power revolt in 1986.
That was almost three decades ago but the memory is still fresh for Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, the man behind the patriotic Filipino song, “Magkaisa,” which is also considered the ‘‘anthem’’ of the four-day historic event.
“Noong February 22, nagkaroon na ng problema sa Camp Aguinaldo. My house is in White Plains near Camp Aquinaldo. Nagitna kami between the rebel forces and the people and the forces of General [Artemio] Tadiar Jr. Nagitna kami dun,” he said.
(On February 22, there was already a problem in Camp Aguinaldo. My house is in White Plains near Camp Aguinaldo. We’re caught between the rebel forces and the people and the forces of General Fabian Ver.)
“I was afraid for the Filipino people. Delikado, baka may mangyari (It was dangerous, something might happen). So what we needed then was to be united, united for justice, united for the future of our country.”
It was during that time that he said he started to hang out in his recording studio in Libis and write a song about being united and being “one blood.”
“Ang first love ko naman talaga e music e (My first love, really, is music). So I called my arranger Homer Flores to join me. I called Ernie dela Pena who was one of my producers and vice president for Vicor,” Sotto said.
He said it only took about three days to finish and record the song, which was interpreted by then upcoming singer Virna Lisa.
Sotto said he thought of Virna Lisa when he was thinking of a singer with a powerful voice.
“Naalala ko sya kasi I saw her sing in a college event. Yung mother nya kabigan ni Helen ( I remember her because I saw her sing in a college event. Her mother is a friend of Helen),” he said referring to his wife and veteran actress, Helen Gamboa.
Unknown to many, Sotto said his brother, Vic, was also “instrumental” in the vocal arrangement of the song, especially the backup group.
“If you will listen to the original recording, and listen to the male voice in the back-up vocal, that’s Vic,” he said.
But lest he be accused that he was promoting his composition, Sotto said, he tried to keep the identity of the people behind the song secret even when he sent a copy to then President Corazon Aquino.
“Hindi ko sinasabi kung sino ang gumawa, hindi ko sinasabi kung sino ang kumanta dahil ayaw kong mapagbintagan na promo kaya hindi ako gumamit ng sikat na singer,” he said.
( I did not say who composed, who sang the song because I don’t want to be accused that it was a promo, that’s why I did not also use a popular singer)
“I could have asked my wife or Sharon Cuneta or Pops Fernandez or under my way to sing it but I did not. I chose an unknown (singer) para huwag mapagbintangan na promo because what I wanted is the essence of the song . That’s what I wanted to promote,” the senator added.
That is why he branded as “silly” allegations that he was just commissioned by then First Lady Imelda Marcos to write the song.
“Kalokohan yun. Mga naninira lang yun. Kalokohan. Alam ko nga kung kanino galing yun.hehe. Kung sino ang nagsasabi noon. Mga naiingit lang yun,” he said.
(That was foolish. Those were coming from critics. I knew where it came from. They were just envious.)
“During that time, mga “Cory boys” na kami. Helen is related to Ninoy Aquino,” Sotto said, referring to the martyred senator and husband of now the late President Aquino.
Despite the victory of the first People Power revolt, Sotto still sees the need for Filipinos to remain united amid the new challenges that they are now facing.
“It’s a classical one. It’s relevant from then to now. And it should always, always be the thought of the Filipinos. Dapat ganun lagi kasi may kahirapan tayo dahil namumuhay tayo sa 7,107 islands. Hindi interrelated e kaya dapat yun ang laging nasa isip natin, kailangang magkaisa tayo,” he said of his song.
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