Yoyoy Villame: A Great Boholano’s Passing

Yoyoy Villame was buried recently in his native town of Calape in Bohol. Not much fanfare there, which was probably what the genius of novelty songs probably wanted. Besides, this is the Philippines where the passing away of real talents is often met with whimper. The productive and creative are recognized only rarely.Yoyoy Villame

I grew up in a generally poor neighborhood in Sitio Kawayan, Barangay Sambag 2, where children’s joys were simple. No computers then, the number of TV sets was limited and radio was the main source of entertainment. Aside from popular 30-minuters like Diego Salvador and Amorsola, we went for Yoyoy Villame and Max Surban.

We children always found time to gather and talk, sometimes in the house of a friend and at night near mercury lamp posts. I think it was in one of those gab fests that somebody brought with him a song book of Villame’s compositions. It was then that I learned to appreciate the creative genius of the man. “Magellan” was a big hit that time.

I don’t know if Yoyoy was able to preserve the songs of his earlier years in Bohol, because his recent album collections no longer included many of them. His record company at that time was not Vicor but one called Kinampay, and the quality of the recordings had the feel of a kombo lata. But the songs were unique—truly novelty.

This was what differentiated Villame from Cebu’s own pride, Max Surban. Max was the more prolific of the two, producing songs in torrents that vividly described the lives of simple people (my all-time favorite is “Kontes sa Hambog” and “Mitulo Na”). Yoyoy, meanwhile, was constantly experimenting, putting new spins to the common.

“Magellan’s” grammar was atrocious, and Yoyoy was a poor historian, but his take on the Battle of Mactan was hilarious. When I first heard that song, I wasn’t prepared for the surprise after that line about Magellan tumbling down after being supposedly “hit on the neck”: “O mother, mother I am sick, call the doctor very quick…”

Yoyoy would later bring his songs and his act to Metro Manila where “Magellan” and the unintelligible but catchy “Butsekik” made him popular. He translated some of his Cebuano songs to Tagalog (“Mag-exercise tayo tuwing umaga…”) but created new songs like “Philippine Geography.” And he continued to write Cebuano songs for us Visayans.

Filipino and Cebuano culture have actually two faces, one elitist and the other pangmasa. Even as western songs and their local variations would eventually capture the elitist crowd, the masa continued to patronize the music popularized by Yoyoy and Max. Even elitist FM stations would, from time to time, recognize this by playing their songs.

As they grew older, Yoyoy and Max, who initially followed separate paths to stardom, would work together for a few concerts and reinvention of their hits. Visit your favorite stores selling pirated CDs, VCDs and DVDs and you will find the Yoyoy and Max copies still selling briskly, giving so-called Bisrock albums a run for their money.

It is sad that so-called guardians of our arts and culture have not recognized the contributions of a Yoyoy Villame, because if they had, they would not have allowed his passing to go largely unnoticed. That just shows how elitist these people are. But they can still make amends. A tribute to this great Boholano songwriter would be apt.

-Candido O. Wenceslao wrote this for his May 30 column in Sun.Star Cebu

12 Responses to Yoyoy Villame: A Great Boholano’s Passing

  1. Jerry G. Gervacio says:

    Yoyoy’s great works inspire especially those in the countryside. His great contribution to music indeed deserve recognition.

  2. D. Abat says:

    I was downloading Tagalog songs and came accross of Yoyoy Villame’s songs. His songs made me smile like crazy when I heard them. I have been living in North America for about 20 years and haven’t heard about his passing away. I agree that a very talented singer who made the people of the Philippines happy by his great songs should have been given a legacy. An uncomparable tribute because no one can ever replace him in the history of Philippine music.

  3. Sarah Ann Fulguirinas says:

    My husband came from Sagbayan, Bohol and introduced me to his songs (Yoyoy Villame). Although I did not understand his songs initially, I appreciated his sense of humour. I could not remember his name until I came onto this site. I would love to introduce my sons to his songs, sadly their Dad cannot as he was killed almost 9 years ago in a motorbike accident. My sister-in-law did not like his songs and she told me instead about other artists. My youngest son, Xavier is enjoying English satirical songs, such as Flanders and Swann and this would be the Filipino equivalent. It is a pity that he was not better known and that his recordings are not as easy to find as some others.

  4. Rommel Terante says:

    I agree…. Yoyoy deserves to be recognize…. The man is a real genius…. His music should be preserve and he should be recognize as one of our national artist…

  5. Onin Cortez says:

    Farewell Yoyoy… your humorous lyrics and recognizable funny face will never be forgotten.

  6. Joey says:

    I just loved yoyoy”s music. I”m from bentig, calape bohol but living in vancouver for almost 21 years. I still enjoyed his music until now. Its so Awesome…
    From Julie L.

  7. Queen james says:

    i will never forget his songs. i have never heard any other good cebuano songs that keeps your mood goin.his songs should be preserve. i always listen to his songs. we play it on filipino american gatherings.i listen to him especially when im kinda depressed, and makes me laugh.

  8. Weldon Reyes says:

    Yoyoy played here in Toronto , Canada maybe 5 years ago with her beautiful daughter. we were not aware that yoyoy was in the dinner show. The whole room roared with laughter specially when he sang ” Magellan “was killed by a lapulapu fish which bit his dick and he died from loss of blood from it. He broght the whole room down with laughter.

    Yoyoy showed us that you don’t need to be a scholar or some one with ph.d to give service to others. Just be yourself, sharpen your skills and the people will acknowledge your talent.

    My his soul rest in peace.Yoyoy thanks for the entertainment.

  9. jet trinidad says:

    yoyoy, in my mind, is truly a master masician. may you rest in peace yoyoy and i consider it a great privilege to be listening to your music.

  10. songs tagalog…

    […]Yoyoy Villame: A Great Boholano’s Passing « Rebelmind[…]…

  11. […] Yoyoy Villame: A Great Boholano’s Passing « RebelmindMay 29, 2007 … Yoyoy Villame was buried recently in his native town of Calape in Bohol. Not much fanfare there, which was probably what the genius of … […]

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