Saturday, September 7, 2013

Queen of Visayan Songs Susan Fuentes Is Dead

It's a sad day for music lovers and for Boholanos as well

Half Boholana and Queen of Visayan songs Susan Fuentes passed away at 12:20 pm on Saturday. She was 58. This was revealed by fellow singer and close friend Dulce.

Born Susan Toyogan in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Fuentes was the fourth of five siblings. 

Her father was from Bohol, her mother from Surigao.

Fuentes, who had been living in Quezon City since 1973, had two children.

As a singer, Fuentes’ sultry performance was noted for its “lusty vocals and emotional styling.”

It was she who, in the 1970s and ’80s, originally recorded and popularized such Visayan classics as “Matud Nila” (They Say), “Gimingaw Ako” (I Feel Lonesome), “Usahay” (Sometimes), “Rosas Pandan.” 

She is the original singer of that beloved season staple “Miss Kita Kung Christmas.”

The late Susan Fuentes with good friend Dulce
The repertoire—ranging from Cebuano to Boholano to Ilonggo traditional airs and folk ditties—made her very popular in the Visayas and Mindanao and a novelty hit in Luzon. So popular were they that a few became theme songs for lovers who didn’t even speak the language.

The poignancy was in the music, but more so if those lovers understood the lyrics, and then they would be unspeakable.

The range of Fuentes’ voice was such that she could effortlessly shift from the agony of “Gimingaw Ako” to the friskiness of “Rosas Pandan.” 

Here is another authentic voice that’s unheard by a new generation of listeners—and neglected by audiences as soon as they’re weaned on engineered voices of warblers who believe too much in their press releases.

By age five, she was already joining amateur singing contests. While still in high school, she was featured in Bisaya magazine (Cebuano-language counterpart of Liwayway) for her talent and beauty.

After high school, she went to Manila, where family friend Eugenia Molina, sister of singer Merci, helped her sign up with Alpha Records.

When she transferred to Jem Recording, she was billed as the Queen of Visayan Songs. Here, she released seven albums, all certified gold records in the Visayas and Mindanao. 

Here's her immortal Christmas song "Miss Kita Kung Christmas"

Miss Kita Kung Christmas Music Video

With Constantino C. Tejero and Bayani San Diego, Philippine Daily Inquirer


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