The OPM icons firmly believe that fate brought them together to spread joy through their popular music.
What OPM Hitmakers think of artists reviving their songs
At a glance
OPM Hitmakers, composed of accomplished Filipino singers Hajji Alejandro, Marco Sison, Rey Valera, and Nonoy Zuniga, are celebrating their 20th year of music and friendship.
The OPM icons firmly believe that fate brought them together to spread joy through their popular music. It's sad that original member Rico J. Puno is no longer present, but he would be pleased to know that the group has remained intact for 20 years.
Consider these rich, immortal OPM songs from the hitmakers. Among Hajji's hits include Nakapagtataka, Tag-Araw, Tag-Ulan; Panakip-Butas, Ang Lahat Ng Ito'y Para Sa'yo, Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika, May Minamahal; Nonoy, Doon Lang, Kumusta Ka, Never Ever Say Goodbye, Love Without Time, Fragments of Forever; Rey, Walang Kapalit, Maging Sino Ka Man, Kung Kailangan Mo Ako, Naaalala Ka, Tayong Dalawa; and Marco, My Love Will See You Through, I'll Face Tomorrow, Make Believe, Always, and Si Aida Si Lorna O si Fe. How they would squeeze in all their hit songs in an evening of OPM nostalgia is something to watch out for.
Produced by Concert Queen Pops Fernandez and Flor Santos, mom of actor-singer LA Santos, under DreamWings Entertainment, the OPM Hitmakers will headline the concert dubbed "XXceptional: The Hitmakers 20th anniversary" at the Theater at Solaire on Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. Gerry Matias is musical director.
"Kami ang mga magkakumpetensya noong araw. Pero na realize ko na pwede pala kaming magkakaibigan. At umabot pa kami ng ganito katagal pa," said Hajji, as he reminisced their friendship, during a media conference announcing their concert, held at MESA Restaurant in Morato, Quezon City recently.
(We were competitors back in the day. But now I realize that we can be friends. And we've made it this far.)
Upon reflection, the group believes they stayed together due to their lack of issues in the industry.
Marco: "Maliliit lang naman pero pagdating sa profession, parang wala akong matandaan (na naging issue namin) kasi may edad na rin kami nung magkita-kita kami. Hindi ko lang alam kung nakapanood na kayo ng show namin na Hitmakers, meron naman kaming kanya-kanyang segment. Doon na lang kami nagpapa-galingan. Wala akong problema sa billing. Ang issue noon kung sino ang late or kung sino ang maaga. Or kung sino yung cause of delay. Alam n'yo naman si Rico ganun yun pero napakabait na kaibigan. Yun lang naman. Wala talaga ako natatandaan na professional jealousy."
(It's only small, but when it comes to the profession, I don't seem to remember anything (that became our issue) because we were old when we met. I just don't know if you've watched our show Hitmakers, we have individual segments. That's where we shine. I don't have a problem with billing. The issue was who was late or who was early. Or who was the cause of the delay? You know Rico is like that, but he's a very good friend. That's all. I don't really remember any professional jealousy.)
Hajji: "Noong una, na first time kaming mag-sama sama, historically, kaming dalawa talaga ni Rico J ang nag-umpisa n'yan. na back-to-back. Tapos nakailang repeat yung concert namin. Eventually, idea ng Viva, sinama nila si Rey. So naging tatlo na kami. Then we decided to hold another concert for two nights. This time kinarga sa amin si Marco. Then we toured the US and Europe. Kung saan-saan na kami dinala. Noong una pakiramdaman lang talaga kami. Nakikita nyo siguro kami paano naglalaitan. Ang tunay na magkaibigan hindi naman nagpupurian yan eh. Naglalaitan yan. So ganun kami. Sabi nga ni Rey kung kailan kami nagka-edad, doon kami naging tunay na magkakaibigan. Hindi lang limited yung samahan naman onstag. Pati off-stage magkakasama na rin kami. Lalo na nakasama namin si Pops. Na-solidify yung aming barkada."
(At first, it was the first time we got together, historically, Rico J. and I really started it. Back-to-back. Then our concert was repeated several times. Eventually, it was Viva's idea to include Rey in the group. So there were three of us. Then we decided to hold another concert for two nights. This time Marco was with us. Then we toured the US and Europe. Initially, we tried to get to know one another and establish a connection. You can see how we curse one another. Real friends don't praise but they curse one another. So that's how we are. Rey said that when we got old, that's when we became true friends. The friendship is not limited onstage. Even off-stage we are together. Especially when we were together with Pops. Our friends have solidified.)
Nonoy: "Wala naman akong naalala na naging magka-away kami. Maliit lang yung mga misunderstanding namin. Madali naman kami maka-adjust sa sa isa't isa siguro nga dahil sa may mga edad na rin kami at nakakaintindi. Twenty years na kaming okay as a group and I'm proud to be part of Hitmakers."
(I don't remember anything that we fought with one another. Our misunderstandings were small. We can easily adjust to one another. Maybe because we are old enough to understand one another. We have been okay for 20 years as a group and I'm proud to be part of Hitmakers.)
Rey: "Noong kinausap ako ni Boss Vic, pina pareho niya ako kay Anthony Castelo or Victor Wood. Ang ginawa niya, sinama na lang nila ako sa kanila. Sa umpisa hindi ko alam ang biruan nila. Naninibago ako. Na-realize ko meron silang routine. Yung mga script na ginagawa ko galing kay Hajji yun. Si Hajji ang creatives behind the Hitmakers. Kami naman implementation lang. Diyan nag evolve yung career namin."
(When Boss Vic talked to me, he initially wanted me to join a group with Anthony Castelo or Victor Wood. He assigned me to this group. At first, I didn't know what they were joking about. I realized they had a routine. The scripts I make come from Hajji. He is the creative behind the Hitmakers. We just implement it. That's where our career evolved.)
The OPM icons did not expect to last 20 years in entertainment. Each of them had their own dreams beyond singing.
Hajji: "Ang maganda sa business na ito we don't consider it work because you don't work music. You play it. So we've been playing all this time at nag-enjoy na kami."
(The good thing about this business is we don't consider it work because you don't work music. You play it. So we've been playing all this time and we've enjoyed it.)
Marco: "Hindi ko ine-expect na magtatagal kami ng ganito. Pero nangarap ako na matagal akong kakanta hangga't gusto ng tao andyan ako. Pinangarap ko yun dahil wala naman akong ibang alam gawin. Noong college po ako, working student ako. Mag mga in-apply-an akong trabaho pero hindi ako tinanggap. Pero noong nag audition ako sa Student Canteen, dere-derecho na yun. Hanggang sa naging champion ako and that's how I started as a singer. Doon ako dinala at yun talaga ang destiny ko. So since nandito na ako, I made a career for myself at sana tumagal ako. Kaya yung ang nangyayari. Ngayon lalong humaba dahil nagsama-sama kami. You can't go wrong with numbers. Kapag marami kayo, mas maganda ang resulta. Given na po yung individual careers kaya napaka thankful ko sa Panginoon dahil wala naman kaming effort basta dinala na lang kami at nagkita-kita na lamang kami. Yung mga hit songs namin naging classic. Up to now, nandito pa kami."
(I didn't expect that we would last this long. But I dreamed that I would be able to sing for as long as people wanted me to be there. I dreamed of that because I didn't know anything else to do. When I was in college, I was a working student. I applied for a job but I wasn't accepted. But when I auditioned in the noontime show Student Canteen, that's where I started my career. Until I became a champion. That's where I was taken seriously and that's really my destiny. So since I'm here, I made a career for myself and I hope it lasts. That's what's happening. Now it's getting longer because we got together. You can't go wrong with numbers. When there are many of you, the result is better. I am very thankful to the Lord because we were brought together. Our hit songs became classics. Up to now, we are still here.)
Nonoy: "Ang pangarap ko lang talaga is tapusin ang medisina at maging doktor. Hindi naman kami mayaman dahil mahal ang tuition sa pagduduktor kaya nagtrabaho ako bilang singer. Naging folk singer ako at nag join ako ng banda. Napatapos ko po yung sarili ko na mag-aral ng medisina at the same time kumakanta. Wala akong pangarap na maging sikat na singer. Nangyari na lamang po yun. Blessing at destiny yan. Ito namang kapansanan ko ay naging inspirasyon para sa may mga kapansanan."
(My only dream is to finish medicine and become a doctor. We are not rich because the tuition for becoming a doctor is expensive so I worked as a singer. I became a folk singer and joined a band. studying medicine and singing at the same time. I had no dream of becoming a famous singer. It just happened. It's a blessing and destiny. This disability of mine has become an inspiration for those with disabilities.)
Rey: "Na-consider ko ang sarili ko na maswerte. One thing in common na marinig mo sa amin, hindi talaga namin alam kung saan kami pupunta. Parang tinatawid lang kami kung saan kami dadalhin. Inaagos lang kami. Ngayong may edad ka na, you just realize nagkakaroon na ng certain meaning yung mga nangyayari sa buhay mo. Nagplano na rin ako na balang araw na tatanda ako at hindi na ako puwedeng singer, subukan ko mag-negosyo at farming. Ginawa ko yun pareho. Pero walang nangyari. I realize na maswerte ako na kumakanta ako and yet ipinipilit ko pa yung sarili ko sa ibang landas. Mahihirapan ka lang eh. So ibig sabihin, bakit hindi mo pa tanggapin kung ano ang ibinigay sa'yo. Let it flow. Kaya ngayon na nangyayari sa buhay namin na ito mapapansin ninyo, go-along lang kami kung saan kami dalhin."
(I consider myself lucky. One thing in common that you hear from us, we don't really know where we're going. It's like we're just being crossed where it's going to take us. We're just flowing. Now that you're old, you just realize that the things that happen in your life have a certain meaning. I have also planned that one day when I grow old and I can no longer be a singer, I will try to do business and farming. I did both. But nothing happened. I realize that I'm lucky that I sing and yet I'm still forcing myself to take a different path. You're just going to have a hard time. So why don't you accept what's been given to you? Let it flow. That's what's happening in our lives now. We just go along where we are taken.)
During their concert, the OPM Hitmakers will also pay tribute to their member Rico J. Puno who passed away in 2018. Rico was known for the songs Kapalaran, May Bukas Pa, Lupa, Together Forever, The Way We Were, Buhat, Ang Tao'y Marupok, Damdamin, etc.
"Definitely. We've done that years ago noong kamamatay lang ni pareng Rico J. But this time around, iibahin namin. Isa talaga siya sa haligi ng Hitmakers. It is only fitting na bigyan namin siya ng tribute at pagkilala sa 20th anniversary ng Hitmakers," said Hajji when asked if there would be a special tribute to Rico also known as the great entertainer, during the show.
What is the opinion of OPM Hitmakers about other artists reviving or covering their hit songs?
Rey: "Merong mga kantang iniiba yung phrasing at areglo. Ako naman mapapansin ko yun tulad ng kanta kong Walang Kapalit. Minsan napapansin ko may bagong phrasing. Pero I take it as an honor. I am flattered. In a way may mga bata na alam nila yung mga kanta ko. Minsan sa TikTok iniiba nila. It concerns me. Pero I realize na may ibang version pala ng kanta. I am not threatened pero natutuwa ako dahil yung kanta nagkakaroon ng sariling buhay. Gumagawa siya ng sariling buhay para ma-reach out 'yung audience. At least yung kanta gumagawa ng sariling paraan para lalo pa siyang tumagal."
(There are songs where the phrasing and arrangements are different. I can notice that, like my song Walang Kapalit. Sometimes, I notice new phrasing. But I take it as an honor. I am flattered. In a way, some children know my songs. Sometimes, on TikTok, they change it. It concerns me. But I realize that there is a different version of the song. I am not threatened but happy because the song has its own life. It creates its own life to reach the audience. At least the song makes its way to make it last even longer.)
Hajji: "Sa akin, yung Nakapagtataka has undergone many covers. Kasama na yung sa anak ko na si Rachel. Natutuwa ako roon kasi malaking complement yun sa isang artist na it's a tap on your shoulder that you have done something good. Kaya inuulit nila at pinaririnig sa bagong henerasyon. For me, for singers na hindi gustong gawin yun sa kanta nila, for me insecurity yun. Napakalaking complement para irevive ng ibang singers yung ginawa mo na."
(To me, yung Nakapagtaka has undergone many covers, including the one of my daughter Rachel. I'm happy because it's a big compliment to an artist that it's a tap on your shoulder that you have done something good. So they repeat it, and the new generation listens to it. For me, that's insecurity for singers who don't want to do that in their songs. It's a great compliment for other singers to revive what you've done.)
Nonoy: "Yung kanta kong Never Ever Say Goodbye, laging pinapang-contest yun. Kinakanta sa mga anniversary, birthday, kahit sa mga burol kinakanta kaya tuwang tuwa kami ni Marco."
(My song, Never Ever Say Goodbye, is always a contest piece. It's sung on anniversaries, birthdays, and even on wakes, so Marco and I are very happy.)
Marco: "Kapag naririnig ko yung ibang version at ibang boses, para sa akin na-appreciate ko yun. Ang feeling ko, mas magandang version yung kanta nila kesa sa akin. Ganun ang effect sa akin ng mga kumakanta ng mga kanta ko. Kaya mas maganda yun para sa akin."
(When I hear a different version with a different voice, for me I appreciate that. I feel their version of the song is better than mine. That's the effect on me and that's good.)