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The carols in Jose Mari Chan’s home

/ 12:40 AM December 14, 2019

Filipinos have been known to have the longest Christmas celebration in the world, with ornaments starting to embellish homes and offices, and holiday ditties in a constant loop in shopping malls as early as September.

For many, as soon as they hear Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in Our Hearts” blaring from the speakers, the holiday spirit quickly engulfs them. The singer-songwriter had also been visible in promotional campaigns ushering in the Yuletide season this year, which further cements his status as a constant fixture for Christmas.

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“I’m very fortunate that my song, ‘Christmas in Our Hearts,’ now 29 years old, continues to be sung year after year, not only by people my age, but even by young children. It’s a blessing,” Jose Mari told Inquirer Entertainment in an exclusive interview at the sidelines of Shangri-La Plaza Mall’s Christmas kickoff program, “Gift of Light,” held on the first day of December.

As the unofficial symbol of Christmas in the Philippines, Jose Mari’s holiday calendar is almost always full. But he said he feels “fortunate and happy” to kickstart Christmas in places frequently visited by people.

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For this particular gig, the Chinese-Filipino musician said he was delighted to share the stage with the world-renowned Philippine Madrigal Singers, “the best people to sing Christmas songs with.”

When asked why he thinks his songs have endured the test of time, the prolific songwriter said, “People told me the melody can be hummed easily. It’s a joyous season, and I was able to capture that joy in my melodies. It also carries the message of Christmas, which is the birth of Jesus Christ.”

However, he shared his apprehension about having it played too early and too often: “I don’t want the song to be coming out of people’s ears, then they’ll eventually get tired of it.”

At home, Jose Mari shared, his children enjoy the Christmas album of the Carpenters, while his wife likes to play the holiday lineup of Ray Conniff, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.

“I grew up listening to those Christmas songs,” he shared.

Jose Mari also said this year’s Christmas will be different for the Chans because “our grandchildren are bigger now, and our children are older.”

But he is glad to still be able to spend it with his 95-year-old mother.

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“We want to make Christmas as meaningful to her as it has been through the years. It was my mother, my parents essentially, and my grandmother, who brought the Christmas spirit to our homes,” Jose Mari said.

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