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Larger than laugh

Larger than laugh The death of OPM pioneer  Rico J. Puno  prompted netizens to post tribute messages and, at least for my colleagues in the press and celebrity friends, their experiences with the “Total Entertainer.”

Of course, such scenario put me back to my own moment with the singer during my early years in the entertainment beat. I was interviewing him for a feature and the setting was his bar in Makati.

Larger than laugh
Rico J. Puno in a publicity photo for his album 'Tatak Rico J.' (1978)
That night Rico J. practically greeted me by boasting how proud he is as a father because his son is already a COO — of his own bar.

It was the first time I heard that “Child Of the Owner” joke and the way he threw the punch floored me. Since then every time I hear that or meet another “COO,” it would remind me of him.

As music journalist I have met talents with the same sense of humor as Rico J. The late Snaffu Rigor, who actually wrote his hit “Macho Gwapito,” immediately informed me that he is the brother of Spanky and Male Rigor (of VST & Co.) which he reassured by adding, “Kapatid ko pa rin sila hanggang ngayon.”

  While I met senyor Rico in his bar, I shook hands with Manila Sound stalwart Rene Garcia (of Hotdog fame) in a band studio. The man, who also passed recently, was fond of the word “mismo” that he’d often say it to make a nod. During our talk I quickly observed he was a jolly character and knew how to verbally express the joy of making music.

In a Facebook post from his wake, bold letter carvings are seen placed around him to spell the word, you guess, mismo. To me that was both poignant and an amusing way to pay respect to the man.

Years back I encountered another master of his genre, Francis Magalona, in, of all places, a toilet. That was in Cebu when I was covering Philippine Idol and he was a judge. He struck a conversation upon recognizing me as among the media invitees and that led to formal interviews.

But Francis M.’s humor was definitely no toilet. He was a class act and I read that when he rapped, (in “Meron Akong Ano”) “Dahan-dahan hindi mo ‘ko maisahan/Up and down side to side or one on one Dela Cruz/ Are you amused by the words I used/Teka Tagalog nga pala excuse me!”

I also had interactions with two remarkable vocalists in Gary Ignacio of Alamid and Bong Pascasio of Grin Department. Chatting with these guys after their gigs or over a few bottles of beer was fun in the same way we teenage boys then savored the innuendos of lines like “May libre kang toothpaste” or “Mag-batibot.”

These men above or now above made valuable contributions to Filipino music and are remembered for that. But it also makes sense to note that their kind of humor (and others of their breed and still around cracking jokes) helped turn them into figures larger than life, or a laugh.

Topics: Rico J. Puno , Total Entertainer , Francis Magalona , Alamid , Grin Department
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