Tribute pours in for Original Pilipino Music legend Rico J

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and other senators yesterday paid tribute to the late Original Pilipino Music (OPM) legend Rico J. Puno and hailed his contributions to the music industry.

Sotto, a recording artist himself, said he and other singers called Puno as the “total entertainer” even from his Spindel days because “he not only sang well but was witty and all.”

“I’m emotionally distraught,” Sotto said.

“Rico will now be performing for a far Greater Audience. Goodbye my friend,” Sotto added.

He said before Puno entered the local music industry in 1975, the elite society did not care much about OPMs. and local singers’ albums will not be found in the homes of rich Filipino’s.

“It was the songs and albums of Rico we produced and released that paved the way for Filipino artists to be accepted in high society,” Sotto added.

Senator Grace Poe, daugther of King of Filipino movies Fernando Poe Jr., narrated her memories when her father used to bring Puno to their house to serenade her mother Susan Roces.

“Kilig na kilig kami sa kanyang mga awitin na nagbigay ng inspirasyon sa maraming henerasyon ng mga Pilipino,” said Poe, enumerating Puno’s classic songs “Alaala,” “May Bukas Pa,” “Together Forever,” “Macho Gwapito” and “Magkasuyo Buong Gabi.”

“Kakaiba ang boses ni Rico J. Kapag narinig mo ang tinig niya, alam mong siyang-siya,” added Poe. “Rico J is a total entertainer, an icon, and a shining symbol of original Pilipino music. Thank you for your music, Rico J.”

Former Senator Jinggoy Estrada said Puno’s songs will always be remembered by the Filipinos.

“He is a big loss to the music industry and I hope that the radio stations will play all his greatest hits in his honor,” Estrada said.

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said the Rico J’s hit songs were a big part of his youth. He said the first concert dinner he watched with his family was that of Rico J’s at the Tropical Palace in Parañaque City.

“RIP (rest in peace) Rico J. Puno, definitely a Filipino music legend. Your distinctive voice and music I grew up with will bever be forgotten. Your humor and fun persona will be missed,” Senator JV Ejercito said.

Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos also honored the contributions of Puno, particularly as a co-founder of Metropop.

Marcos said Rico J., a close friend of their family, was her co-founder of Metropop (Metro Manila Popular Music Festival) which was launched in 1977.

Metropop was launched by the Popular Music Festival and held annually from 1978 to 1985.

It was the country’s pioneering and once foremost songwriting competition and was later revived in 1996, aired over GMA network and lasted until 2003.

Marcos said Puno was a true friend and a loyalist.

“Ang biro nga namin kay Rico J, marami siyang minahal pero sa isa lang siya nagtagal, sa mga Marcos,”Imee said.

Marcos noted the deep and sincere intention of Puno to help the poor that led him to run for public office.

Puno ran and won as a councilor in Makati City from 1998 to 2007 and made a comeback in the last 2016 elections.

“Nagsimula sa wala, umangat kaya willing din tumulong sa mahihirap,” said Marcos, noting that her father, former President Ferdinand Marcos, was Puno’s godfather.

She said Puno was the original “maginoo pero medyo bastos” of the Pinoy music industry but was a kind and true friend.

Meanwhile, Malacañang expressed condolences to the family of Puno, who succumbed to heart failure yesterday.

“We express our condolences to a legend that is Rico J. Puno. He has contributed a lot in the music industry,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

Panelo described Puno as a “personal friend” whom the Palace official had a duet in one show four years ago. Puno was supposed to hold a concert in November.

With Efren Montano