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Jose Mari Chan : Getting to Know the Man Behind the Music

As a journalist in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, Ms. Charito has fond memories of meeting some of Manila’s popular musicians.

Meeting Filipino celebrities

As a practising journalist in the late '80s and '90s, I had the good fortune of meeting many Filipino entertainers. It was an exciting experience, as I found myself interviewing them in TV stations, recording studios, concert venues, and five-star hotels.

This explains why most of my hubs focus on entertainment. I am truly a lover of films and music.

For this hub, I zero in on one highly respected entertainer whom - I am proud to say - I personally know. Read on to know more about him.

Joe Mari on “The Ryzza Mae Show”, a popular TV show in the Philippines (November 25, 2013)

Joe Mari on “The Ryzza Mae Show”, a popular TV show in the Philippines (November 25, 2013)

Singer-songwriter, gentleman...my friend!

It was in 1991 when I first met him. I was a freelance writer then wanting to write about him for one of Manila’s lifestyle magazines. Before that, I was already familiar with his pop tunes that were hit singles of the ‘70s – Afterglow, Deep in My Heart, Can We Just Stop and Talk a While and Here and Now.

Our first meeting at his cozy office in Makati (Manila’s central financial district) was most memorable to me, as it was such an amiable encounter. As soon as my feature on him was published, I decided to see him again to personally hand him a copy of the magazine. But I actually had another purpose. Daring as I was, I wanted to show him a few of my own compositions! To my surprise, he sat with me, listened to me sing my tunes, and critiqued me. I will never forget that moment. I cherish it because it was the start of a warm friendship.

So, who is this man? He is Jose Mari Chan – a multi-awarded singer and songwriter in the Philippines.

I bet people of other cultures would think they were listening to some American balladeer once they hear Joe Mari (as he is fondly called) sing. Being Chinese-Filipino, he told me once that he writes his lyrics in English, as he is not that proficient in Tagalog. He also admitted that his music is influenced by the works of Michel Legrand, Burt Bacharach, Henry Mancini and the Beatles. (He has one composition, in fact, which serves as a counterpoint to John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s Here, There and Everywhere.)


Joe Mari with his devoted wife Mary Ann at the 4th Star Awards for Music of the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) held in September 2012.

Joe Mari with his devoted wife Mary Ann at the 4th Star Awards for Music of the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) held in September 2012.

My fondest memories of Joe Mari are the occasions when he and his lovely wife, Mary Ann, graced my wedding reception in September 1994, and when he guested in one of my civic organization’s activities.

Blessed with a wonderful family, Joe Mari is a fine product of the Ateneo de Manila, one of the nation’s top universities. As a businessman, he currently runs his late father’s sugar business.

Here are some of his popular hits :


1. Afterglow

Joe Mari told me that he was once mistaken for a popular American singer when some people heard this.

It was his first single in 1967. He later collaborated with his schoolmate - Filipino rock-and-roll musician Ramon “RJ” Jacinto - to remake this song. The duet version is in RJ’s 2012 album RJ Duets.

2. Deep In My Heart

This love song was released in 1969 and quickly became a hit.

3. Can We Just Stop and Talk Awhile

This is the first Joe Mari composition I ever heard. It was an entry in the 1973 World Popular Song Festival held in Tokyo.

I was instantly charmed by this!


4. Why Did We Not Meet (Some Years Before)

From the album Afterthoughts released in 1974, this is another favorite of mine. The melody is just soothing.

5. Good Old-fashioned Romance

Another track from the Afterthoughts album with a very catchy tempo !

6. Counterpoint to Lennon and McCartney’s "Here, There & Everywhere"

If the late John Lennon and Paul McCartney could just hear this!

7. Here and Now

In this song, Joe Mari sings with Pol Enriquez and Cynthia Patag of The Ambivalent Crowd, a popular Filipino band of the ‘70s. I love the mellowness of this tune.

8. Afraid for Love to Fade

Released in 1975, this is a sweet ballad with a pleasant melody.

9. Tell Me Your Name

This is from the 1985 album A Golden Collection.

10. Beautiful Girl

This is probably the most popular Joe Mari composition ever to hit Manila’s airwaves.

It is in his 1989 album, Constant Change, which was named Album of the Year by the Awit Awards (the Philippine version of the American Grammy Awards).

11. My Girl, My Woman, My Friend

One of my favorite duets! The female vocalist is popular singer Janet Basco. (Love the way he sings "rolled into one"!)

12. Christmas In Our Hearts

This is Joe Mari’s most popular Christmas song. The female vocalist is his married daughter Liza.

13. We Share the Same Horizon (jingle)

Joe Mari wrote this for a bank commercial in the ‘70s.

The singer, Tillie Moreno, was once a member of the popular Circus Band of the ‘70s. She has now gone solo.

14. Love At Thirty Thousand Feet (jingle)

Joe Mari wrote this for Philippine Airlines.

15. Big Beautiful Country (jingle)

Joe Mari wrote this station I.D. jingle for the now-defunct TV station Banahaw Broadcasting Corp. (BBC2).

We're on the road

We move from place to place

And oftentimes when I'm about to call it home

We'd have to move along

Life is a constant change...

The friends we know we meet along the way

Too soon the times we share form part of yesterday

'Cause life's a constant change

And nothing stays the same, oh no

— Jose Mari Chan, from “Constant Change"

A must-have album !

Comments - So, what do you think of Jose Mari Chan?

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on August 01, 2015:

Glad you stopped by to sample Joe Mari's music, word55! Yes, I'm a music lover, and I like various genres. I'm happy to share my interest with you.

Thanks for visiting! Oh, and by the way, just call me by my nickname - "Charito".

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on August 01, 2015:

Hi Rosario, you have a great musical taste and you're a gifted writer. This guy has some classical compositions going on. Yes, an amazing and classy voice with depth. He and I have a lot in common although our music styles vary. Thank you for haring his great music and his talent. Looking forward to reading more of your hubs. God bless!

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on July 21, 2015:

Hello! I'm glad we both like his music. Thanks for dropping by!

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on July 21, 2015:

I love JMC and I have a collection of his CD's. My fav amongst them is the Christmas in our Hearts. I traditionally play this every year during the Christmas season and I smell nostalgia.

Good hub. I enjoyed it.

SilverLotus1 on July 22, 2014:

Thanks for introducing me to someone I didn't know about. Enjoyed this lens!

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on May 10, 2014:

@delia-delia: Yes, he writes both the lyrics and music. He's very talented.

Delia on May 10, 2014:

What a soothing voice he has! Love the lyrics...does he also write the music? They'd be great movie theme songs.

yayang0405 lm on May 02, 2014:

I can never forget the song "Constant Change" by Jose Mari Chan because that is one of the songs we sang during our Graduation in High School.

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on April 21, 2014:

@asereht1970: Thanks! Glad you like his music! "Refrain" isn't really one of my favorites.

asereht1970 from Philippines on April 20, 2014:

Nice! Not only do I Love Jose Mari Chan but I also love the way you created your lens. My fave among his songs is Refrain but it was not included in your list....

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on April 20, 2014:

@QuiltFinger: It is!

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on April 08, 2014:

@rainykua: Glad you do!

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on April 08, 2014:

@Felicitas: Yes, it was!

QuiltFinger from Tennessee on April 04, 2014:

Wow he has such a wonderful voice, and what I nice person too. That's a rare combination.

Felicitas on March 28, 2014:

How nice it must be to have such wonderful talent. It must have been such a pleasure for you to get to know him.

rainykua on March 22, 2014:

He has a unique and soothing voice that makes him stand out from other singers. I really like his Christmas in Our Hearts.

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on January 27, 2014:

@iwrite100: I just love his music!

Maribel Taleghani Asl from Philippines on January 27, 2014:

I like this singer very much. If I hear him sing, it seems that the melody is piercing through my soul.

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on January 21, 2014:

@Heidi Vincent: Yes, he does!

Heidi Vincent from GRENADA on January 20, 2014:

Jose Mari has a lovely voice!

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on January 16, 2014:

@LornsA178: Glad you like him!

Lorna from USA on January 16, 2014:

He is one of my favorite singers back home. Thanks for writing about him and his music.

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on January 14, 2014:

@rattie lm: Glad you enjoyed listening to him!

rattie lm on January 14, 2014:

What a lovely voice he has. I really liked the Christmas ones in particular, just a little different from the traditional ones.

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on January 13, 2014:

@takkhisa: Thanks for listening. Glad you enjoy Jose Mari Chan's songs.

Takkhis on January 13, 2014:

This is a very nice lens I must say. I have never heard of him before but now I do because only for you. Love those songs, they are amazing :)

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on January 12, 2014:

@ahmlaw: Glad you like this song.It had no counterpoint melody.

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on January 12, 2014:

@nonya222: You're welcome!

nonya222 on January 11, 2014:

Thank you for introducing me to a great talent I wouldn't have found without your help. Awesome!

ahmlaw on January 11, 2014:

Thank you for this! I LOOOVE "Could We Just Stop and Talk Awhile". This has always been one of my favorites, and it is wonderful to have a copy! Wasn't there a counterpoint melody...?

Charito Maranan-Montecillo (author) from Manila, Philippines on January 10, 2014:

@joseph-anthony-montecillo: You're welcome!

joseph-anthony-montecillo on January 10, 2014:

Thanks for featuring one of our great local talents!