In the 1970s, the country witnessed the peak of the Original Pilipino Music (OPM) industry as Filipino bands revolutionized pop and rock songs with catchy Pinoy phrases. This was later on classified as the Manila Sound after notable band Hotdog released their hit single “Manila” (1976), which mirrored not only the distinctive music of the era but also the sentiments of many Filipinos toward their culture and homeland.
But a little after 6 p.m. last Sunday, Rene Garcia, the vocals and composer behind that iconic Hotdog song and a pillar of the OPM industry, passed away due to cardiac arrest. He was 65 years old.
His brother and band co-founder, Dennis, confirmed his death in a Facebook post with a photo accompanied by the words “I will miss you like hell, bro!”
The remains of Rene lie at the Agoncillo Chapel of La Funeraria Paz, Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, Parañaque.
Rene lived a life dedicated to empowering the local music industry which has not waned since the rise of the Manila Sound. Here are four facts about the Manila Sound icon:
1. He and Dennis were given graveyard shifts at recording studios when they were starting their careers.
Before the Manila Sound came into the scene, the country’s music industry was dominated by funk and disco tunes by foreign singers. Technicians in recording studios gave them graveyard shifts. They were not known until Rene performed “Ikaw Ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko” with band lead singer Ella del Rosario during the July 1974 Miss Universe beauty pageant at the old Folk Arts Theater in Manila. Their performance before an international audience catapulted the band to fame.
2. He assisted aging musicians in developing new music.
Rene was one of the founders of “Bandang Pinoy Co-Op,” a local organization that focuses on helping poor, aging and retired musicians further practice and enhance their skills.
3. He fought for proper treatment of all Filipino band members.
In a 2015 interview with Roger Pe of the Inquirer, Rene expressed that he laments how Filipino musicians are being pushed as “second-class citizens” of the country. Rene stressed that Filipino music organizations “should care more about Filipino musicians and guide them.”
4. He composed a new Hotdog song with Dennis recently.
In honor of Rene, Dennis posted on Facebook last Monday a video that featured the last song he and Rene composed, titled “Sana Naman.” The video also showed photos of Rene’s career as a musician.
Header image courtesy of Inquirer
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Writer: AMIERIELLE ANNE BULAN