Basil Valdez once swallowed an insect while performing with Ryan Cayabyab

Totel V. de Jesus

Posted at Feb 27 2020 01:03 PM

Lani Misalucha, Basil Valdez, Ryan Cayabyab tell us stories of their youth

The power of three living legends Basil Valdez, Lani Misalucha and Ryan Cayabyab. Handout

MANILA -- And the story begins with a mosquito. Or was it a moth?

Basil Valdez and National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab are celebrating their 50th anniversary in the music business this year and among the memorable gigs that was brought up in a recent group interview with the media was when Valdez accidentally swallowed an insect.

Valdez, Cayabyab and Lani Misalucha will perform for two nights, on February 28 and 29, in a concert appropriately titled "And the Story Begins..." at the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila. 

Cayabyab, popularly known as Mr. C, recounted how in an open-air bar where they had nightly gigs, Valdez choked while singing. Cayabyab was playing the piano in one corner of the stage and from his vantage point, he thought Valdez swallowed a mosquito. 

"Nalimutan mo na?" Cayabyab asked Valdez.

"Isang malaking gamu-gamo," Valdez said, correcting Cayabyab. 

"Akala ko lamok. Grabe, halos 50 years na nangyari now ko lang nalaman na gamu-gamo pala," Cayabyab said. 

Basil Valdez. Handout

"When it entered my mouth, nilunok ko na lang kasi I need to continue singing. Kapag ang lines kailangan, tuloy lang. Pagkalunok ko saka ako tumingin kay Ryan," Valdez said, laughing. "'Di ko masabi na gamu-gamo nalunok ko."

Valdez and Cayabyab, having started nearly the same time in the 1970s have been friends ever since. Countless gigs and concerts have followed. Most of the songs Valdez recorded and that have been identified with him as his signature songs were Cayabyab's compositions. 

Valdez also shared a trade secret. He said he is not used to reading teleprompters and wireless microphone when performing. It's not because he's that old to try new advances in technology. It has something to do with forgetting lines while performing, which also happens to young singers.

"If I forget a line or two, I would do something like this," Valdez said while holding a microphone with his left hand. With his right hand, he pointed to the other end where the connector was plugged and made a twisting motion. 

"Kunyari may technical difficulty. Kaya 'pag nakalimot ako ng linya, ginagalaw ko 'yang part na 'yan. Parati galit na galit sa kin 'yung sound engineer, alam niya style ko," Valdez said, eliciting laughter. 

Cayabyab said, "Bakit mo sinabi 'yang trade secret na 'yan. Ngayon alam na nila."

FIRST TIME TOGETHER

At some point in their careers in the following decades, there was Lani Misalucha. She was among those batch of singers in the '90s who could reach the high notes with ease and she was dubbed "Asia's Nightingale." Her voice was powerful and electrifying, but not to the point of shattering chandeliers and wine glasses. 

"Being the youngest, ako huli na pumasok sa industriya," Misalucha said.

"We're going to celebrate our 50 years in the industry. 'Yun 'yung time na pinanganak ka," Cayabyab said in jest.

Lani Misalucha. Handout

One has worked with the other in countless shows -- Valdez with Misalucha, Misalucha with Cayabyab, Valdez with Cayabyab -- but not the three of them in a concert. "And The Story Begins..." is their first time to perform together and not just for one night but two. 

"Basil and I worked together separately with Mr. C many times. The last time I worked with Basil was about 20 years ago, sa America pa. Kaya I am looking forward na sa unang pagkakataon na magkakasama kaming tatlo," Misalucha said. 

"Eto 'yung pagkakataon na ma-i-share sa audience kung papaano kami nag umpisa, paano nagkasama sama. The story begins from this point pero pabalik din. We review older materials. 'Old' meaning when it's given a new life. We're also going to do duets," she added. 

Incidentally, she opened the press con by singing her newest single titled "I Can't Give Anymore" under Star Music, her first time performing it live. Misalucha has been based in Las Vegas for many years now and has regular perfomances in lounges and famous night spots, which, once upon a time the regulars were the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, all the greats.

She's earned her share of fans in Las Vegas. From being "Asia's Nightingale" and because her vocal range can reach as high as the stratosphere, she's now earned the title "Siren of the Strip." 

As the title of the concert implies, it's but expected people would ask how they started their careers.

"Accidental lang talaga. Hindi ko alam na magiging singer ako. Akala ko magiging beauty queen ako," Misalucha said, seriously now.

"I was already a mother of two, talagang parang nailagay ako sa posisyon. It was a beautiful accident," she added. 

Cayabyab shared: "Naghahanap ako ng trabaho right after graduating from high school. Kailangan ng tulong ng pamilya ko. Like many of us, we struggled very hard. So 'yun ang paano ako nag-umpisa. Naghanap ako ng trabaho, ng ma-audition-an para ma-discover. Masyado mahaba ang kwento but that was the start."

"In 1970, I started as a folk singer in a club along Padre Faura. Then I joined the Circus Band for five years," Valdez recalled.

"I met Ryan in 1977 and he helped me produced my first album, 'Ngayon at Kailanman.' So 'yun history na lahat," he added.

GREATEST HITS

No doubt, Valdez belongs to that generation of singers who can transform the music of Filipino great composers like Cayabyab, George Canseco and Willy Cruz, among others, into classics. Listening to his hits is like riding a time machine. You become like a child again in your grandmother's house in the province and on weekends, you're watching the films of Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor paired with the likes of a very young Christopher de Leon and very much alive Dindo Fernando.

Ryan Cayabyab. Handout

Incidentally, Cayabyab and Valdez's first collaboration was "Paraisong Parisukat," a song inspired by a stage play of the same title by Orlando Nadres. The song was used in the film adaptation titled "Masikip Maluwag Paraisong Parisukat," starring De Leon and directed by Elwood Perez. 

Cayabyab said: "Basil will be singing all his hit songs. Pero ang dami noon kaya namili lang siya ng para dito sa special occasion."

"The concert will be all about my life, all the songs I've done composed for me by great Filipino composers. We're paying tribute to Ryan Cayabyab, George Canseco and Gerry Paraiso," Valdez said.

He gave samples of the iconic song titles he's going to perform: "Nais Ko," "Kahit Ika'y Panaginip Lang," "Ngayon," "Paraisong Parisukat," "Hanggang sa Dulo Nang Walang Hanggang, "Ngayon at Kailanman," "You," "Lead Me Lord" and "Buhay Ko."

"Lani is going to perform some very exquisite releases like 'Bukas na Lang Kita Mamahalin,' composed by Jimmy Borja," Cayabyab said.

"First time ko na tutugtugin in my life with the the MSO string orchestra. Maririnig niyo ibang areglo," Misalucha said. 

And, of course, it is just but expected that Valdez and Misalucha will sing together. 

"If you know the songs of Basil and Lani, you can look forward to the duets that haven't seen light for decades. We're doing older materials. Don't worry, we're not really gonna sound really really old," Cayabyab said, in jest. "Old, meaning when it's given a new light."

He added: "At the end of the day, we're all just having fun. Pero definitely maganda yung mga damit namin."

And for sure at the well-secured, regularly cleaned and properly ventilated NPAT, no gamu-gamo, mosquito or any other flying little pesky intruder will dive into Misalucha's or Valdez's mouths.