a personal narrative


I was rummaging through some stuff from the past to let go, when I came upon an old magazine– a Rogue Magazine (circa May 2008!) that featured its first annual Philippine Music Portfolio featuring the heavyweights, the legendary bands and musicians in the Philippine music scene. Plus, a historic Jingle historic reunion in remembrance of the chord book magazine that influenced and shaped, not just Philippine OPM (Original Pinoy Music), not just musical tastes, but the sensibilities of a whole generation.

A flood of memories came rushing back and a deeper realization of how the music of that generation, notably the sixties, and the 70s generation which was my generation, shaped me in more ways than one.

Jingle Chordbook started in 1970 and, as a songbook, it featured the lyrics and chords of the popular songs of the day. With just an acoustic guitar, you could learn to play your favorite songs. But Jingle Mag wasn’t just a chord book as it gradually expanded its content to include feature articles on popular and up-and-coming music artists, record reviews, poetry, essays, short stories, editorial cartoons, music industry gossip, comic strips, even a Grin Page devoted to jokes sent by readers, and an increasingly expanded letters section where fans could express how they felt about their favorite artists. Jingle pioneered a form of music journalism that is well remembered to this day as the platform where you could be free to express and say what you wanted to say.

Ces Rodriguez, who was a fan and who later on became Jingle’s managing editor, was a dear old friend. That’s how I somehow became part of the Jingle coterie, initially just one of those kids hanging out in the Jingle office that was a-buzz with happenings, where writers, artists and musicians met up and did things. But this was the seventies when not all records or albums contained lyrics so I ended up being one of those who listened to the songs over and over to get the lyrics and write them manually. (Of course, they had formally trained guitarists to get the chords right and annotate them. Since I could play the guitar, I also got to learn how to make “kapa” in the process (i.e. get the chords too)

This introduced me to the music of a time when seismic changes were happening everywhere, notably in the US and the West. Colonial mentality? Maybe so, but the foreign artists and bands who were popular hits carried with their songs sentiments that resonated with the Filipino youth and their music inspired Filipino artists to create their own.

The folk music of Peter Paul and Mary, the folksinging trio who accompanied the civil rights movement in the US. Bob Dylan’s vast repertoire of songs, many with socio-political messages. Crosby Stills, Nash and Young. Carole King. The Beatles. Leonard Cohen. Joni Mitchell. Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones…the list goes on and on. And thanks to Jingle, I got to listen to those songs, chat with the others in the Jinge Clan, trade thoughts and feelings about what was going on.

These were the times when “make love, not war” was the resounding motto. The civil rights movement was on the march. Feminism was on the rise. And yes, give peace a chance was the chant and the aspiration of the day. You could feel social consciousness coming to the fore among the youth of the times, not necessarily of the hard-core kind, as the inequalities of the system were becoming blatantly obvious and unsettling. Much of this was abruptly cut short by the Marcos proclamation of Martial Law in September 21, 1972.

Rock music? Free expression? Irreverent? Jingle was reported to have published supposed subversive articles and protest songs. It was ordered to shut down during the early years of Martial Law when all print and broadcast media were initially closed. Jingle had to change its name to Twinkle for several issues before it was allowed to operate again. But it didn’t veer away from its nonconformist stance as writers and artists continued to stay in the forefront, be it music, journalism and social commentary.

With curfew and all the restrictions, having stay-ins where you could bring records, listen to music, and jam with your friends was a past-time with Jingle Mag as a companion. In Manila, cafes and folkhouses abounded where you could go and listen to your favorite artists sing. Increasingly, more Pinoy artists were composing and singing their own songs. Foreign bands plus many local artists like Asin, Heber Bartolome, Freddie Aguilar, and icons like Lea Salonga and Nora Aunor were featured so Jingle Magazine played a crucial role in developing the Philippine music scene.

Until it eventually closed down in the 1980s. With Karaoke and MTV, with the internet and youtube, who among the newer generations needs a chord book?

Fast forward.

Here I am, years later, seeing how the music and my Jingle experience had played an influence on my life and times.

There, in my youth, were the songs of peace and protest I learned to play on the guitar, the stories of musicians who became social activists, the songs that made you think twice about who you were and what your purpose is.

There, in the music of my youth, were the sentiments and sensibilities that later moved me and helped set the course. Over and above the day-to-day things we all do as we go through the different stages of our lives is the meaningfulness of being able to contribute towards building a more humane, more equitable world, more peaceful world.

A big thanks to my dear friend Ces.

Here’s to the genius of Gilbert Guillermo who founded Jingle Magazine, and his brother Eric. Their legacy is honored even up to this day by many.