The Reluctant Musician of PAL
By Apolinario Villalobos
Friendship is oftentimes forged on a common denominator. That is how groups of hobbyists are formed. We know of people whose passion is nature tripping such as birdwatching, mountaineering, scuba diving or simply trekking. Some are grouped as motorcycle riders or bikers.
When I just transferred to Manila from Tablas where I was assigned as PAL’s ticket/freight clerk to Manila to work with its Tours and Promotions Office, I met Eboy Jovida, a colleague who was assigned at the domestic airport ticket office. He was unassuming and full of energy every time he was sharing stories. His attitude was so contaminating such that, every time I talked to him, my problems just vanished.
The first time I felt that he was not an ordinary guy was when he got hold of a guitar and did some plucking and simple strumming while he was humming a song. With that, I became closer to him because of my love for music. Later on, I learned that he was also a flutist and was doing gigs in cafes and lounges in Manila and some hotels along Roxas Boulevard, as his side job. Much later, I also learned that he was adept in arranging musical pieces and even conducted choirs.
He was practically a guy oozing with musical talents, as he was into composing and singing. He was also a member of an acoustics group. I was then, expecting him to go places, especially when I learned that his group was becoming popular among the café habitués in Greenbelt Park of Makati City. I egged him to go on composing, especially, haunting tunes to jibe with his flute. The last time we had a serious talk that included my collaboration with him using my poems was when I visited him in their home in Cavite, during which we frolicked in the rain like children, when there was a sudden downpour.
Years have passed since our last meeting and I was surprised to learn that he tried his luck in finding a greener pasture in the United States. Though surprised, I understood his predicament in view of the cut-throat competition in the local music industry. The best memory that we in PAL have about him, was his conducting of groups of employees that rendered songs during special occasions.
The Philippines is a country of musicians. It is sad to note, however, that politics have also intruded the local music industry. Even singing contests are not free from its stain. Singers like Charise Pempengco became known as an international singer via an American TV program. She never had a chance of fair exposure while in the Philippines. The same is true with Lea Salonga whose singing with international caliber was given a better recognition when she joined “Miss Saigon”. Today, her name has become synonymous to the said musical play.
There are plenty of musical talents in the country, who just like Eboy Jovida, hesitated to assert his own, knowing that it would just go to naught. Wherever he may be, I wish that due recognition be given him so that he can have a chance to share his God-given talent.