Inspirational Humans

How To Be Original: Jose Mari Chan

The prelude to Philippine Christmas and memes

Amri Deen
Amri Deen
Sep 15 · 5 min read

The official start of Christmas in the Philippines is on September 1 and ends on January 6 of the following year. At the start of September, the malls start with their Christmas decorations and blast Christmas carols. Radio stations also join in and broadcast Christmas songs, old and new.

One of the Christmas Carol staples is Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in Our Hearts.” The song has a catchy tune and meaningful lyrics. So much that the song has been played repeatedly in the Philipines during the Christmas season and every year since its release.

Rise of Jose Mari Chan memes

In recent years, Jose Mari Chan has become the signal of Christmas here in the Philippines. Several amusing memes have been created depicting him beginning the countdown to the start of the Christmas season. Some of them start as early as January and will continue until August.

Beyond the memes

One can say that he has become a ubiquitous Christmas symbol — in the Philippines at least. Some have gone so far as to call him the Father of Philippine Christmas. Also, September 1st has been named unofficially as ‘Jose Mari Chan Day’ owing to the popularity of the memes.

However, the singer does not want to acknowledge these titles. According to him, “yuletide is not his season, and he is just the little drummer boy”. He expressed this in one of his interviews. He said that Christmas should be about Jesus.

In the same interview, he responded to a question about what it’s like to be an icon of the Filipino Christmas tradition by saying:

“I don’t want to be called an icon. Because it’s really the season of the Baby Jesus. And I want, when you think of Christmas, you think of the image of St. Joseph, Mother Mary, and the Baby Jesus. That’s the image. Those are the icons of Christmas. Yes, my song became popular and it heralds the Christmas season but it should not make me Mr. Christmas.” Jose Mari Chan.

Lasting popularity

This humility might be the reason why the singer is still popular after all these years. His Christmas song has been around for 31 years. Although it is still the one being played during the “Ber” months, he has also sung other hit songs during his active years.

In fact, he has received lifetime achievement awards from the Philippine Association of the Record Industry’s (PARI) Awit Awards, the composer’s group Katha Awards, and the Aliw Award.

Jose Mari Chan is one of the Philippines most respected and enduring singer-songwriters.

It’s in the lyrics

His contemporaries say that he has captured the sentiments of the Filipinos because of his lyrics. He has perfected a sound and style that only he could call his own.

In addition, Jose Mari Chan says that he wrote his first original songs when he was 13 years old. By his own account, they may have been derivative, but they were original.

Lesson to be learned

Despite the memes, it cannot be denied that Jose Mari Chan’s originality has made him last all this time. In particular, it was because of the original songs that he got the attention of a producer.

So, therefore, originality is a significant life skill that one must learn in order to succeed. It may not be easy, as it will mean presenting the real you out for the world to see. You may not be accepted by some or dismissed outright.

Putting yourself out there would require a lot of self-confidence and nerve. However, by accepting and presenting your true self, you will be able to make the most of your limited time.

And for that reason, originality combined with hard work, dedication, and perseverance will undoubtedly yield results.

So how do we achieve originality or become original?

How to be original?

First and foremost: accept yourself. Of course, this does not mean that one should not grow and improve. But by accepting yourself first, you would get to be comfortable with being yourself, warts and all.

Consequently, by being who you are, you would set yourself free from self-judgment and negative talk.

Secondly: work on your self-growth or development. Once you have accepted yourself, you can then discern which part of you, you would like to develop or improve. It is important at this point to dig deep into yourself and let your intuition guide you.

As Steve Jobs said:

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs.

And thirdly: believe in yourself. Be your own cheerleader and do not let other people cloud your judgment. Your life is your own journey to take.

In essence, people who are original and true to themselves have a more positive self-image and live longer healthier lives.

The life and music of Mr Jose Mari Chan is a perfect example of this.

Back to Christmas in our hearts

The lyrics to the song were co-written by Rina Cañiza, a young go-getter who went ahead and introduced herself to the songwriter. Hoping to one day collaborate and the rest, as they say, is history.

This is another example of staying true to yourself and pursuing your dreams, but we’ll save that for another article.

Here are the lyrics of the song that capture the spirit of Christmas:

Christmas In Our Hearts

Whenever I see girls and boys
Selling lanterns on the streets
I remember the Child
In the manger as He sleeps

Wherever there are people
Giving gifts, exchanging cards
I believe that Christmas
Is truly in their hearts

Let’s light our Christmas trees
For a bright tomorrow
Where nations are at peace
And all are one in God

Let’s sing Merry Christmas
And a happy holiday
This season may we never forget
The love we have for Jesus

Let Him be the One to guide us
As another new year starts
And may the spirit of Christmas
Be always in our hearts

In every prayer and every song
The community unites
Celebrating the birth
Of our Saviour, Jesus Christ

Let love, like that starlight
On that first Christmas morn
Lead us back to the manger
Where Christ the Child was born

So, come let us rejoice
Come and sing a Christmas carol
With one big joyful voice
Proclaim the name of the Lord!

Let’s sing Merry Christmas
And a happy holiday
This season may we never forget
The love we have for Jesus

Let Him be the One to guide us
As another new year starts
And may the spirit of Christmas
Be always in our hearts

Let’s sing Merry Christmas
And a happy holiday
This season may we never forget
The love we have for Jesus

Let Him be the One to guide us
As another new year starts
And may the spirit of Christmas
Be always in our hearts

Written by Jose Mari Chan and Rina Cañiza.

What do you think about the song? Please share your comments below.

Outside Links:

Jose Mari Chan
Christmas in Our Hearts
Dare to be an original

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