Sunday, February 24, 2013
Joel Villaluz: A Man of Music, A Man of Inspiration by James U. Sy Jr.
I first got acquainted with Mr. Joel “Bagguer” Villaluz and his wife, Cosette, in the mid 1990’s while I was still employed as an account officer at First Provincial Finance Corporation. Back then I’ve already noticed the couple’s penchant for music, definitely an essential part of their lives way back earlier than I am aware of. This love for music becomes apparent with Mr. Villaluz’s column here at NDB, Musically Yours. Last February 23, 2013, Villaluz, an accomplished musician, especially with the keyboards, became an inspiration to many as the fourth installment of preliminary auditions of the Pilipinas Got Talent Season 4 was aired over at ABS-CBN. At 70, he joined the preliminary auditions held at SM Cebu and despite of not being able to talk, he inspired the three judges with his music and got their nod. Villaluz was a smoker before, which led him to be diagnosed with throat cancer and ultimately had an operation to remove his vocal chords in 2007. According to the narration of his wife, he would play the harmonica, with a cigarette in his mouth. This event changed his life a lot although it did not deter him to continue his pursuit of music. At PGT, Villaluz came to the stage with a white board and was later joined by his wife to help him answer the judges’ questions. Villaluz played “Somewhere in Time” with his keyboard, making judge Kris Aquino, the Queen of All Media, stand from her seat. Judge FMG, a music virtuoso himself, asked Villaluz to play another piece, if he were to give him a chance. Villaluz played “Granada” with gusto and got the judges’ unanimous yes. FMG said he was familiar with the music because “galing ‘yan sa kapanahunan ko. I’ll give you a yes.” Villaluz looked healthy and stood with posture for a 70 year old (and his wife Cosette looks younger than her age of 66). However, more inspiring was his message to the audience, and the televiewers, just before his performance, which he wrote on his white board, “Don’t lose your life to cigarettes. I almost lost mine.” His piece was hair raising and touches the soul yet even more inspiring was his will and determination to go through the competition, even without the ability to talk and having the challenge of facing some of the best talents in the Visayas. Villaluz gave thanks to God that even with what happened to him, he was still given a chance to continues life and live it as it should be lived as commanded by God. He had the message laid out for the judges and the audience in the tarpaulin that hung in front of his keyboard. We all know the evils of smoking and I need not enumerate here what it can and can not do for us. Villaluz’s written words for PGT fans were simple. Our body is a temple given to us by God and we need to take good care of it. Life is precious so live it well. We all have shortcomings but they should not deter us from achieving new heights in our lives. Villaluz performs for different institutions and private individuals who request him to perform during occasions and events. He had brought his music to L’Fisher Hotel, Robinson’s Place Bacolod, Chicken House, Naga City, La Carlota City, and Cebu City among several others. He had also made a 10-volume collection of classical music in CD format. Villaluz is one of three Bacolodnons who were honored with the Ang Banwahanon Award on June l7, 20l2 at the Grand Lobby, Bacolod City Government Center, for the social impact of his “free” musical services especially for the elderly and disabled and for notably composing “Kami Bacolodnon,” eventually the official song of the City of Smiles.