Of Sons and Songs of Christmas

Up close and personal with the 3 sons of the legend Jose Mari Chan

By Patricia May P. Catan
Images: Ileana Cortes, Sunnex


THIS season, no other singer and songwriter is as omnipresent as Jose Mari Chan, whose songs, with their meaningful lyrics and catchy, well-crafted melodies, fill the Christmas air. Chan’s musical journey spans decades, and through it all, he and wife Mary Ann have been blessed with a beautiful family, raising five equally talented children, who themselves have acquired his innate musical talent.

Constantly immersed in music at an early age, the Chan children not only have followed in their father’s footsteps, they’ve taken the stage with the man as well. And Cebuanos had the glorious opportunity to witness Jose Mari Chan perfrom alongside his three sons Jose Antonio (Joe), Michael Philip (Mike) and Francisco Rafael (Franco) last November 23 at the Pacific Grand Ballroom of Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino, the third time they’ve performed in Cebu as a family.

Dad respected the kind of music we were into and recognized our own tastes.

The Chans first performed as a unit at a fund raising concert in Japan in the early 2000s. What they initially viewed as something cheesy has now became an enjoyable family activity. After that, the sons began to feel comfortable singing with their dad, eventually agreeing to do more family concerts.

While music has always been an enjoyable part of their lives, it helps to have an open-minded father to show them the way. “Dad respected the kind of music we were into and recognized our own tastes,” Franco said.

One thing that also gave them a lot of pleasure and joy was harmonizing. Joe said it was fun for them to recreate what different artists were doing, something that became a form of musical training for them without having to go through a teacher and do the whole academic process.

True enough, the boys didn’t have much formal training besides piano lessons. All they ever did was follow their ear, and from there, they realized that it came easy for them to figure out chords. Coming from such a musical family, everything naturally progressed as they slowly integerated music in their lives.

With a nurturing, loving father and an encouraging, open-minded mentor all rolled into one, the Chan brothers barely encountered issues on where their musical path should be. “Dad does not tell us that we should focus on pop, classical or jazz music alone. He’s open to wherever inspiration may take us,” Mike shared.

Both Mike and Franco were part of school bands, while Joe and Mike, together with two other sons of celebrities, were in a band named Generation. Although the band split last year, they still considered it as a fun experience and a good run. Now, the spotlight is on them once again as they share the stage with their dad in concerts.

“What our dad was able to achieve is a rare thing and I don’t know if any of us possess the same level of drive as him,” Joe said in all humility. Mike added that aside from their father’s musical talent, the Chan patriarch also had the personality and charisma that made him look so natural on stage.

Who knows where the Chan sons’ musical journey will take them, but as life unfolds further, Franco surmised what their dad would probably want of his sons: for them to do what they love and to eventually chart their own path. Just as the legend called Jose Mari Chan did.

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