I was listening to Jose Mari Chan’s “A Golden Collection” album when one song with a strangely familiar tune started playing. At the start of the song, I was confused as I really thought it was Celester Legazpi’s “Mamang Sorbetero” that was being played so I wondered why the song was included in the album. A series of arguments started brewing in my mind until the singer started singing.
When the lyrics started, it turned out the song was actually Jose Mari Chan’s “Mr. Songwriter.”
You have to play the two Youtube videos below to get the gist of what I have been struggling to point out.
Mr. Songwriter by Jose Mari Chan
Mamang Sorbetero by Celeste Legazpi
Pardon the hideous fan-made videos. MTV was yet to be invented at the height of the two songs’ popularity.
The realization of the two songs’ difference and similarities got me more confused. Did Jose Mari Chan composed Mamang Sorbetero and let Celeste Legazpi sing the song? Which song came first, Mr. Songwriter or Mamang Sorbetero? Who copied what?
Enter Google. It turned out that Celeste Legaspi’s Mamang Sorbetero was actually derived from the melody of Jose Mari Chan’s Mr. Songwriter. The producers found Mr. Songwriter was not catchy enough so the lyrics were replaced with Filipino words and became Mamang Sorbetero. Check this and this links.
Alongside The Smoky Mountain and Rey Valera and Sharon Cuneta’s “FM Ka, AM Ako” hit albums, Jose Mari Chan’s music were the ones often played on our stereos when I was younger, though never once did Mr. Songwriter was played. Perhaps it was because the only Jose Mari Chan albums we had at that time were “Thank You, Love” and the top selling OPM album of all time, “Christmas in Our Hearts.” Speaking of which, I wonder why the carrier single “Christmas in Our Hearts” never fails to remind me of that Christmas when one of my sisters gave me a Millionaire’s Game game board.
Now every time I’d hear either song, two scenarios would play on my mind alternately: (1) Mr. Songwriter is a music student peddling dirty ice cream between classes to help fund his education; or (2) someone asked Mr. Songwriter to write a short and simple melody with words that would carry our message across, a message of peace to every country and came out with Mamang Sorbetero.