September’s arrival means two things for many Filipinos: the holiday season is fast approaching, and memes featuring Chinese-Filipino singer Jose Mari Chan, 76, will be everywhere.
Here come the memes
Altered images and online jokes featuring the beloved singer have unintentionally become a part of the Filipino holiday tradition in recent years.
Chan’s songs, particularly the singles “Christmas in Our Hearts” and “A Perfect Christmas,” are among those constantly played in public transportation, malls, offices and karaoke sessions in what Filipinos have come to refer as “#bermonths.”
The songs’ sudden return to the airwaves during the extended holiday celebration have resulted in memes poking fun at the singer.
These memes, in a way, are a testament to the lasting power these iconic songs possess.
Who is Jose Mari Chan
Jose Mari Chan, a prolific singer-songwriter from the ‘60s through the ‘90s, remains a beloved celebrity in the Philippines.
His decades-spanning career is remembered fondly by many, not just for the number of hits he produced, but also for his positive attitude and wholesome demeanor.
Chan’s mellow voice, usually accompanied by soothing music in his numerous romantic ballads, reflects qualities that have left millions of fans enamored over the years.
The balladeer, who released his first vinyl record “Deep in My Heart” in 1969, has made multiple award-winning, chart-topping hits over the past decades, according to his online bio on Last.fm. Chan’s most notable songs include ”Beautiful Girl,” “Please Be Careful With My Heart,” Constant Change,” “Afraid For Love To Fade” and “My Girl, My Woman, My Friend.”
In an interview with Positively Filipino, Chan shared that his songs have “become the soundtrack of many a couple’s lives through courtship and marriage.” He added that the song “Constant Change” has become a common graduation song choice among high school graduates.
“Beautiful Girl” was a hit outside the Philippines and was covered by Asian stars like Aaron Kwok. Other Asian artists who recorded versions of his songs were Paula Tsui (Hong Kong), Sally Yee (Hong Kong), Tomomi Akimoto (Japan), Sandy Lam (Hong Kong), Kamahl (Australia) and Yasuo T. (Japan).
World-famous performer Lea Salonga is one of Chan’s most frequent collaborators and has also recorded covers of his songs.
Yet, most Filipinos remember him best for his 1990 Christmas album “Christmas in Our Hearts.”
Such is the popularity of Chan’s Christmas hits that even in concerts with a predominantly Muslim audience, he can get the crowd to sing along to Christian lyrics such as: “This season may we never forget the love we have for Jesus.”
King of Christmas Carols
While Chan has mostly shied away from the title “King of Philippine Christmas Carols” that local media has bestowed on him, he has remained appreciative of the support he receives from fans.
“I’m flattered, I’m complimented, and I feel rewarded that after 30 years, the song that I wrote ‘Christmas In Our Hearts’ is still loved and sung by people year after year,” the singer told GMA News in an interview last year.
As for the memes, he appears to like them too, as he joked that social media users “reuse the same picture so in a sense, in those memes, I’m forever young.”
Brands join in
Many social media pages for brands and personalities have also started incorporating the Jose Mari Chan memes with their posts.