Magnanimity in victory and ads from the past

During the awarding ceremony for the UAAP basketball season, I learned that the cheers for Ateneo de Manila and University of Santo Tomas players were done by the La Salle side. Of course, they were visibly quiet when the University of the East players were called.

That’s magnanimity in victory. Congratulations to De La Salle Philippines (because they now claim that the basketball team should represent the whole network) for winning the championship this year. I hope Ateneo can stop from falling into wilderness years, but as we Filipinos would say, the ball is round.

*****

On QTV, I caught a show listing the 20 greatest television advertisements in Philippine history. All but one of the top eight were from the 1980s and early 1990s, the only recent ad making it being the famous “Karen and Lolo” commercial of McDonald’s and Leo Burnett. It brought back some memories. The ads I managed to catch—which I remembered—were Richard Gomez’s landmark rowing ad for Bench to the tune of Debussy, “Goodbye Carlo” and the chubby, hotdog-eating girl, and Sarsi’s visually and musically upbeat “Angat sa Iba” presentation.

My formative years were a time when commercials were obligatory parts of TV viewing in the pre-cable era. I am sure that there were ads mentioned in the top 20 that I remember; I’ll get to them shortly. Of course, I did not remember the top two advertisements—the number one ad was a Superwheel commercial from when I was just one, and the number two ad, for San Miguel Beer, featured Gabriel “Flash” Elorde offering to treat his companions to… a dish of peanuts! (I was three when that came out.) But the highest-ranked ad I remember is Alice Dixon’s “I can feel it… yeah” advertisement for Palmolive, which came in at number three.

There were other advertisements I recall that could have made the top twenty, mainly musical ones. Three that came immediately to mind were the following:

1. A Coca-Cola singing advertisement in the “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing” tradition, made exclusively for the Philippine market but shot abroad. It featured a young Filipina singer whose name seems to have faded into relative obscurity, leading a chorus of children in the Reading Room of the British Library. (Whether they managed to shoot it near Marx’s desk is another story.) The ad was timed to coincide with a significant event at the time, which was President Corazon Aquino’s speech to the US Congress in 1987.

2. Gary Granada was commissioned to write a song for PLDT, and the singer chosen was the recent Laurence Olivier Award winner Lea Salonga. The song, which has since become a choral favorite, is called “Tagumpay Nating Lahat (Our Victory).” Of course, this being a Lea Salonga performance, I would not forget that one. A few years back, Granada wrote the Philippine Daily Inquirer saying that, because of PLDT’s bad customer service, he regretted writing that song for them. However, as an inspiring tune, I would never want to regret such a thing.

3. Of course, San Miguel Beer has had a perennial connection with music and musicians; in 1986, they got The Dawn to adapt their “Where The Streets Have No Name”-inspired “Salamat” for their long-standing strand of advertisements on friendship and beer. That advertisement was the first time I ever heard “Salamat,” and that is how I remember it.

However, if the measure of an advertisement’s success is how often it is spoofed, I am sure that a certain nail-polish ad would come to mind. For those who remember, it was one of the songs to which a dance troupe on the defunct Tropang Trumpo would perform, always ending with the word, “Chicken!”

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