There are songs that weren’t originally planned to be released and simply included as re-imagined tracks in an album. Yet, by stroke of luck, one certain song will defy the odds and turn out to become the biggest hit among the selections.
That was what happened with Lani Misalucha’s “Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin,” a song penned by Jimmy Borja, who wrote the singer’s early OPM titles.
The original singer who recorded “Bukas na Lang Kita Mamahalin” was Jude Michael, who apparently was not able to promote the ballad.
“Bukas na Lang Kita Mamahalin” is a track in Misalucha’s 2000 album, “All Heart,” under Viva Records. The carrier single, “One More Time,” was written by Dodjie Simon and charted alongside other tunes like “Ang Lahat ng Ito ay Para Sa ‘Yo” by Vehnee Saturno and “Save This Heart” by Trina Belamide.
Not originally meant to be released as a single, “Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin” changed the promotional course of the “All Heart” album when the ballad became a hit.
“My first album was with Alpha Records,” Misalucha told ABS-CBN News. “After that, I transferred to Viva [Records]. They were looking for songs that will fit my style of singing.”
Misalucha recorded her first album, “More Than I Should,” with Alpha Records in 1997. The title track and carrier single was penned by Odette Quesada. The album included Misalucha’s 1996 entry in the Metropop Song Festival, “Ang Iibigin at Ikaw,” written by Borja.
In 1999, she interpreted Simon’s winning song, “Can’t Stop Loving You,” that bagged the grand prize in the Metropop Song Festival. That same year, she switched recording companies and moved to Viva Records.
“There are record producers na mayroong gut feel or gift,” Misalucha saId. “They discern what will become a hit or ano’ng song ang dapat nang i-release. I don’t have that kind of discernment for my songs. I just recorded everything."
The success of “Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin” came as a surprise for Misalucha. Yet, she will always be thankful for her recording feat.
“Sa ibang tao, mas naaalala ang song,” she saod. “You wouldn’t think ‘I Will Always Love You’ was a Dolly Parton original song. You would always say Whitney Houston. Kasi mas identified sa kanya [Whitney].
“I know ‘Bukas na Lang Kita Mamahalin’ is a very beautiful song. But I really never thought that one day, it will be widely accepted and many people will love it. Assessing how it became popular, ‘yung pakiramdam mo na, ‘Oh my gosh. It really became a hit song!”
“Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin” became her signature song and one of her biggest hits. It somewhat became unbelievable for her that many gay singers constantly singing “Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin” in videoke joints.
Also in 2000, “Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin” became the theme of the Angelu de Leon and Diether Ocampo romantic-drama of the same title, megged by Jose Javier Reyes.
Through the years, “Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin” was recorded by other artists including Jed Madela. Misalucha was bowled over by the interpretation of Charice Pempengco, before she even became Jake Zyrus.
“That was one of the best versions,” Misalucha remarked about Pempengco’s version, where she was even accompanied by David Foster. “Napakahusay.”
“It makes me proud when other singers record the song,” Misalucha said. “Ang tao, they really love the song they want to sing it, as well. Ang daming mga taong nakaka-relate.
“Filipinos, they really love hugot songs like that. Then they can relate it to their experiences or the heartaches they were going through. They can always associate the song to the story of their life. Kung minsan nga, wala namang pinagdadaan, then nakaka-relate pa rin sila.”
When “Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin” was still a relatively new song, there was always someone in the audience who would cry every time Misalucha rendered it in her performances.
“Kahit na happy song, sometimes napapa-iyak ko ang tao kapag kumakanta ako,” she admitted.
Misalucha’s initial favorite among her songs was “Ang Iibigin ay Ikaw,” which even had Visayan lyrics written by Borja. That was a 1996 entry in the Metropop Song Festival, where Jaya sealed the grand prize for Danny Tan, who wrote “Sometimes You Just Know.”
Misalucha’s other favorite is Saturno’s “Ang Lahat ng Ito’y Para sa ‘Yo,” a song originally recorded by Hajji Alejandro that she re-imagined for her “All Heart” album.
Before the lockdown last year, Misalucha was promoting “I Can’t Give Anymore,” a modern ballad written by Filipino, American and Korean songwriters. She recorded the song released as a digital single under Star Music.
“I recorded ‘I Can’t Give Anymore,’ then it was instantly released,” she said. “I guess gano’n na ang kalakaran ngayon. Wala ng mga CDs [compact discs]”
She does not deny that she misses performing live in front of an audience. She will have to do the next best thing and stage a virtual concert. On Saturday, June 5, Misalucha will share the stage with Martin Nievera in “New Day,” at The Theater at Solaire.
“For now, we’ll just have to embrace whatever is available,” Misalucha said. “We’re still longing to perform and we miss the live performance, where we have an audience in front of us.”
The last time Misalucha performed with Nievera was when they did a concert tour in the Middle East – Dubai, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi – for the Alliance of Overseas Filipino Workers.
“For more than a year now, we would always sing in front of our laptop, desktop or even our phones,” Misalucha lamented. “To be able to stand again onstage and in a theater where there are audience seats, you really feel the live performance again.”
Joining Misalucha and Nievera in “New Day” are OPM hitmakers – Rey Valera, Nonoy Zuñiga and Marco Sison – as guest artists. At the helm is Paolo Valenciano, with Louie Ocampo as musical director.
The last live concert Misalucha did was the post-Valentine’s show, “And the Story Begins,” with Basil Valdez at the Newport Performing Arts Theater at Resorts World Manila, before the lockdown was declared in 2020.