Behind the Music: 'Don't Say Goodbye' by Pops Fernandez

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at May 22 2021 02:18 PM | Updated as of May 22 2021 03:32 PM

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Concert Queen Pops Fernandez was leaving for a series of performances out of the country in 1989 when a heart-rending ballad was lovingly – and quickly – penned by her erstwhile hubby, Concert King Martin Nievera.

That was “Don’t Say Goodbye,” that became the successful carrier single of Fernandez’s album “Awesome,” released also in 1989 under Sunshine Records, a subsidiary of Vicor Music Corporation.

“He was so sad at that time, that was what he said,” Fernandez told ABS-CBN News. “Martin and I were still married. He showered and when he came out, which was a few minutes after, he had the lyrics for ‘Don’t Say Goodbye’.”

Nievera got in touch with musical director Louie Ocampo and the birth of “Don’t Say Goodbye” came to be. The song bannered Fernandez’s third album that successfully turned double platinum.

“When that happened to ‘Awesome,’ I was super happy,” Fernandez disclosed. “That double platinum award was because of ‘Don’t Say Goodbye,’ which became one of my biggest hits."

“Anything that is recognized before was such a huge deal. Every time we released an album, the goal is for at least one of the songs from that album to be a ‘most played’ song.”

Fernandez believes “Don’t Say Goodbye” was recorded at the right time. “The lyrics, the music and mellow easy listening sound all added to the success of the song,” she maintained.

“Don’t Say Goodbye” became a much-requested song on the radio and even in all of Fernandez’s performances then. The song is something that will always be attached to and identified with her.

Hence, Fernandez will always be grateful for her recording success with the beautiful ballad penned by Nievera, with music by Ocampo. 

Earlier on, she also embraced and enjoyed her recording triumph with her debut single, the tender yet painful Tagalog song “Dito,” that remains one of her favorites, too.

No wonder, from the time Fernandez started in the music industry with her early recording success, she immediately considered her maiden venture as her banner year.

“Everything happened so fast,” she said. “I recorded an album under OctoArts International, did my first movie, became a regular host in ‘Penthouse Live,’ started doing concerts… That happened one after the other. I want to say banner years from the time I started in the business.”

Aside from “Dito” and “Don’t Say Goodbye” that became iconic tunes for Fernandez, she mentioned several more of her recorded songs that likewise became her favorites through the years.

“Just Say You Love Me” is her popular single that also became the theme of her 1982 film of the same title, megged by Emmanuel H. Borlaza and paired her with Rowell Santiago.

“Little Star” is a fitting song for Fernandez. “I find it so sad and so bagay for me, especially when I was just starting,” she granted.

“Points of View” is her duet with Joey Albert, while “Kaya Pala” marked her collaboration with sisters Margot and Edith Gallardo.

“Mahal Na Rin Kita” was written by Jamie Rivera and Jimmy Antiporda. 

Meanwhile, “Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang” is not Fernandez’s original hit but that of Ogie Alcasid’s. She recorded her version of the song with Freestyle. 

“But I super love ‘Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang,’ the lyrics, melody and all,” she said. “At marami pa.”

It flatters Fernandez no end when other artists re-imagines her original hits. For instance, “Don’t Say Goodbye” had versions by Nina and Juris. Admittedly, the song became one of Fernandez’s biggest hits.

Although she is still seen regularly on TV, Fernandez has not graced the concert stage for a while now because of the absence of live performances. But she remains hopeful that she could ignite the concert scene once again when the virus simmers down.

“Because of the pandemic, I feel I missed the concert scene more,” Fernandez said. “I can’t wait to perform in front of a live audience and convey my feelings through songs and just entertain people, which I feel is so much needed now.”