Jewel Villaflores and her songs of love and passion
By Deneb Batucan
WITH that effortlessly cool facade, she smiles ever so gracefully at her adoring fans. But in her mind, she still feels like all of this is a dream. Oh, but when she sings, the crowd goes along with her into a different place where everything is golden and where music is all that matters. Jewel Villaflores is truly turning a dream into reality.
It was almost three years ago when Jewel decided to write a beautiful Bisaya love song and enter it in a songwriting contest. And it was almost three years ago when Jewel, with heartfelt and raw emotion, sang “Duyog” for the first time in front of an audience, and won first prize, at the stage of the very first Visayan Pop (Vispop) Songwriting Campaign.
Ever since she won the songwriting contest, everything has been so surreal for Jewel. “I never expected it to be anything like it is today. I’m very thankful. This is one thing that I really love doing,” she said.
Growing up, Jewel has always loved music. Her mom’s old vinyl records and her sisters’ mixtapes were staples in her world. “It always amazes me how music takes people to a different place, and I have always enjoyed getting lost in a world of musical notes and drum beats,” she shared.
Love for sound
From her love of music stemmed the want to create music. Jewel was introduced to the piano at a young age. “I had an aunt who was a piano teacher and she basically pushed me to work my fingers across the piano keys. It was about the same time that my older sister decided to teach me to play the guitar just to test her patience. But to be honest, as a stubborn kid, I wanted to play siatong instead,” she quipped.
But after learning the basics of the instruments, Jewel fell in love with the sound and was interested to learn more. Now aside from the piano and guitar, she also plays percussion instruments like the drums, djembe and cajon, as well as the French harp or the harmonica. “The first time I heard the music that the harmonica makes, I immediately decided to get one,” she shared.
When she got older, Jewel started writing songs with her brother, Joe Edward. They used to write about random stuff when they had nothing to do. “None of it made sense,” she jovially recalled. “But I never really enjoyed singing back then because I was an extremely shy person. My parents even had to pay me to sing a song or two during Karaoke.”
From Karaoke sessions, Jewel has blossomed to booking gig after gig after gig. Not only does she sings to a crowd but she sings her own original songs and the crowd loves every minute of it.
When writing songs, Jewel says that not all of it are based on her own experiences. “Sometimes I just put myself in the shoes of someone experiencing a certain situation and just work with that,” she said. “I usually start with a random melody inside my head and just mumble along and just play with it as soon as I get a chance to pick up a guitar or play the piano. Most of the times, these melodies reveal themselves in the most unexpected and random places like the grocery store, pet shop and even on the sidewalks. It’s a good thing my phone has an audio recorder.”
These melodies that she turns into songs have not only touched the hearts of the Cebuanos but it has reached other parts of the Philippines as well. Winning Vispop for her was a big door that lead her to so many even more beautiful things. “After Vispop, my circle of friends expanded. I met a lot of people from the music scene in the Philippines. More people started to appreciate my songs and I’m really thankful for that. I fell further in love with Binisaya songs and OPM in general,” Jewel said.
Today, Jewel is recording singles for her upcoming album, which will be released this year. She recently released a new single called “Ayaw’g Buhi,” which is song reminiscent of The Beatles’ notion of wanting to hold a lover’s hand. The song talks about the kind of love that transcends mere words. And that kind of love can be expertly expressed by doing a simple gesture. “Gunit sa akong kamot, kupot lang ug hugot.”
Music, to Jewel, is a medium of expressing oneself, a powerful art form that evokes various emotions. “Music is a huge part of my life and I can’t live without it,” she said.
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
HMUA: Bobbie Albert and Pauline Abaiz
Locale: Crate Café