MANILA -- Gilbert Guillermo, the founder and editor-in-chief of the country's music bible Jingle Chordbook Magazine, passed away last July 21. He was 74.
I cannot say I knew Gilbert or his brother Eric very well. We spoke on several occasions back in the day, but it was just small talk. It usually was me saying “I love the magazine” and him replying, “Thank you.” That sort. Although it did go a bit deeper at times such as when I disagreed with an album review.
However, the magazine, I knew well. And as I understand, it was an extension of him and his love for music. And through that medium, I guess, you can say I knew him, and the education of music.
I remember the very first Jingle magazine that I bought. It had Rod Stewart on the cover with an orange design. The song “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” was popular then so you know this dates me. I hated the color orange and my balm? That was what was inside – record reviews, chords and lyrics, feature articles, and those editorial cartoons. Plus, those ads.
I bought my first Jingle magazine even before I could afford to buy Rolling Stone or even Creem magazine, then the top two music magazines. I lived about three minutes away from the Jingle offices along P. Tuazon and when I got home from school (my grade school years at the Ateneo), I would head over to buy the latest copy of the magazine.
Are you one of those who would smell a magazine, book, or comic book? I am. And I loved the smell of a magazine fresh off the press. That is how I bought my copies of Jingle. Fresh off the press. And despite its being published as a magazine, it had this indie feel to it. Subversive even.
The magazine, along with DZRJ, and the aforementioned American counterparts, started a revolution from within me. And I must say, I am all the better for it.
Eventually, as I frequented the Jingle offices, Gilbert and his brother Eric ushered me upstairs to the editorial offices where I met Ces Rodriguez, Penny Azarcon, Butch Maniego, and others. Now, I had a place to hang out. Even pester them or even discuss music with them.
When I had my first letter published in the letter column, it was like hitting the jackpot. I was on the pages of my favorite magazine!
You know the saying that knowledge and information is power? Decades away from the internet and in between the occasional issue of Rolling Stone, Creem, and Hit Parader and later on, British mag Flexi-Pop, Jingle was my source for everything music.
My father, who was the president of Disc Corporation and the Philippine Association of the Record Industry, would bring home Billboard magazine, but it was too technical and too advanced for a kid about to hit his teens and was going to high school. That isn’t to say that Jingle couldn’t be cerebral. Far from it. Its distinct Filipino flavor whetted my growing palette of punk, New Wave, heavy metal, reggae, and ska. Sorry, I wasn’t crazy about pop music.
When the Jingle Beatles Songbook came out, I fell in love with the Fab Four even more. I was a very young kid at the height of Beatlemania and I only understood them and how they shook the world several years after they broke up.
Before all these books about the Beatles, this magazine, was a treasure and a Godsend. I must have purchased that at least four times in my lifetime as I wore it out and replaced it because – “may nag-arbor.”
Imagine how I felt when I was living in the United States and my mother threw out my collection of Jingle not to mention a lot of the vinyl records I accumulated during my youth. I strongly scolded my mother across the oceans.
Now that I have hit mid-age, I long for the things of my youth. After shifting to compact discs in 1993, I returned to vinyl only in 2016. The connection to the old records I saved and the newer ones I acquired are like a time machine. And I find myself back in the mid-1970s, the 1980s when I was in high school and college when punk and New Wave were all the rage. Through Amazon and eBay, I have started purchasing books I read as kid. Even a copy of the occasional Jingle magazine that comes my way.
Imagine when I was able to acquire an old copy with Duran Duran on the cover. Imagine the rush of emotions and memories that come flooding back.
If music is the perfect time machine because you remember where and when you heard a song, you can add Jingle to the mix.
So you can say that in a way, I knew Gilbert Guillermo. His blood, along with those people who lovingly toiled over each and every page, is in the ink spread across thousands and thousands of pages of stories, lyrics and chords, and subversive cartoons.
And as Abba sang, “Thank you for the music” and the magazine.