Charmie Joy Pagulong – The Philippine Star

September 23, 2021 | 12:00am

Rico Blanco has found a comfortable outlet where he can talk about his relationship with girlfriend Maris Racal and that’s music.

The former Rivermaya frontman, who has not been vocal about his love life, was surprised, too, why he is more open now in sharing about his private life.

“It’s not really difficult. I’m surprised as you guys are,” mused Rico on why he is sharing his private life during a virtual media call.

“I feel kasi we’re working in the space na she’s doing music and I’m doing music. She’s into acting and she’s serious about her craft,” he said.

Both are excited to share their music and art.

“So baka dun ako nakahanap ng area na comfortable ako pag-usapan because it’s not really a private thing. It’s something that we’re both passionate about. Maybe yun yung window or doorway para mapag-usapan ko. Something that might be considered private but I’d like to think that we still keep a lot of things private,” he added.

The two will continue to produce more music collaborations as Maris is managed under Rico’s label Balcony Entertainment. “I think tuloy-tuloy lang. We really enjoy creating music together,” he said, citing the former’s newest single, Asa Naman. “I kinda feel it’s my single also kasi ako producer (and co-wrote it). Sa music video, pinaghirapan din namin dalawa.”

The 48-year-old rock icon also disclosed that she let Maris, 23, listen first to his own version of the Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) theme song, now called Pinoy Tayo. He performed the iconic song with Maris and other former PBB housemates in one of the productions in ASAP Natin ‘To!

“It’s also very helpful that I let Maris listen to it when I was still writing it… After singing the first version and the first chorus, I think… I sang it on a video call and I think her sister was there, too. I remember the comments sa kanya, ‘Ano nga ba yung original na tono? Ang ganda’,” shared Rico.

“That gave me confidence na okay. Kasi yan yung worry ko eh. I purposely didn’t listen to the original in the first stage of songwriting,” he added.

He was also asked if he is open to the idea of joining PBB, where Maris was a runner-up, he initially said yes but later on changed his mind. “They’re gonna get a free concert every day. They might want to kick me out kasi, ‘Ang ingay naman niyan. Bakit ba tugtog ng tugtog yan at kanta ng kanta? I-evict na nga natin yan.’ Baka ganun ang mangyari,” he jokingly answered.

But on a serious note, “I think that would be really interesting,” he said. He further recalled, “I had this conversation before with my family. While were watching kasi paborito siya ng lola ko. God bless her. She’s not with us here anymore but there was a time na I used to go to her room. Yun yung bonding namin and nanonood siya. My titas, my mom, relatives will ask, ‘Kung ikaw papasok ka? Sabi nila, Ay wag na lang ikaw kasi makikipagsagutan ka kay Kuya e.’ Magpapaliwanag daw ako, hindi daw ako magpapatalo.”

And so, “maybe not me. Sige ‘wag na lang,” said Rico.

Meanwhile, Rico’s remake of Orange and Lemons original Pinoy Ako will serve as the official theme song of the upcoming PBB Kumunity Season 10.

It is also the lead track in the soon-to-be released anniversary album of ABS-CBN Music creative director Jonathan Manalo, who collaborated with Orange and Lemons 16 years ago to produce the first version.

Rico feels honored to be tapped for this new collaboration “for what it stands for — it’s just so well-loved.”

“I put like these small elements that you hear from my songs all this time — from Awit ng Kabataan, there’s a little bit of Yugto, there’s a little bit of that song, there’s a little bit of this song and I kinda try to put everything in this song,” he detailed. “So nung nabuo na yung idea sa head ko, I said yes to Jonathan.”

Jonathan shared this “unexpected collaboration” is a “dream come true” for him.

“Of course, we love the original version. It is well-loved. Pero siyempre si Sir Rico dinala niya sa route na mas siya. It’s more Pinoy and inclusive kasi it’s called Pinoy Tayo. Sobrang genius and brilliant yung ginawa niya sa treatment ng song. I’m just very grateful,” expressed Jonathan, who also thanked Rico.

As Jonathan marks his 20th year in the industry, he described his journey as “inspiring and full of surprises.” “Hindi ko pinalano kung nasaan ako ngayon. Ang ginawa ko lang talaga, gawin kung ano yung gusto kong gawin and be consistent about it. Kung ano man yung narating ko, it’s because of that,” he told The STAR.

On the other hand, Rico, as a mentor, believed he has imparted two most important lessons about music to artists under his label — career longevity and enjoying the creative process.

“I think the main thing is, una for success, if they want to be considered to have a legendary status or great, it doesn’t stop with one hit or two or three hits. It’s really longevity. It’s like you keep doing the same thing for a long time. And that’s when people will start considering you as great,” he told The STAR.

“And the most important thing would be to enjoy na parang naglalaro lang, happy, kasi that enables you to do it for a long time,” he added and recalled how they (former bandmates) wanted to be “global superstars” like U2 or Oasis when they were 19 or 20. “We fell short but we were enjoying what we were doing so no regrets. There’s always going to be someone more successful, more famous than you. It’s all about appreciating your activity and enjoying it.”

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