Remembering Eddie Peregrina, the original Jukebox king

The gift of music has consistently been one of the most valued innate properties a man possesses and the same remains to be the best enduring legacy one bequeaths behind once his “mission” on earth is through. Heritage, in any form, is preeminent when planned, organized, and perfectly fixed that no predicament arises when the right time comes.
A case of an almost sudden death, unlike loss from a lingering illness where everything is prepared and less difficult to come to terms, could leave loved ones in inevitable intense grief and psychological trauma which happened to then movie-TV singing idol of the ‘60s, Eddie Peregrina. The singer-actor died in a car-mishap at the height of his career…and left behind a successful profession that instantly went kaput and the promise of tomorrow powerlessly suspended in midair.
In the wee hours of the morning of April 30, 1977 (when he was barely 31), the singing idol was on his way home after having fully met all his schedules for the day when his car suddenly bumped into a troubled vehicle ahead his lane. The impact was critical that thoroughly damaged his Mustang sports car and left him critically lifeless.
He was brought to the nearby Polymedic Hospital but lost his fight for survival after a month and a week. The excruciating emotional and harrowing pains were too much to bear especially for his wife, actress-singer Lyn Salazar and two daughters, Edlyn (who was barely 6 then) and Michelle (2 years old) and not to forget his millions of avid fans and followers. The entire entertainment industry was in agonizing mourning following the loss of one of its most popular stars.
Eddie was born Eduardo Villavicencio Peregrina on November 11, 1945 in Manila to Octavio Peregrina of Pililia, Rizal and Nena Villavicencio of Cebu.
Eddie was born to sing, indubitably. He initially hogged the limelight at a very early age (6) when he bagged the top prize in DZXL’s The Tita Betty Children’s Show and his claim to fame became as easy as playing with his toys.
During the early 60s when boy bands were the toast of the party scenes, Eddie became a vocalist of upcoming musical groups that created waves overseas, notably “The Blinkers.” His burgeoning singing career was given the biggest boost when he won in “Tawag ng Tanghalan,” a popular nationwide singing contest during the 60s and 70s.
His inimitably unusual high-pitched singing voice easily distinguished him from among his male contemporaries who, during those times, were strongly influenced by suave baritone and crooner styles of their international counterparts. His singing technique included the unique style of tipping his feet backwards in order to hit and sustain high notes.
Eddie’s name was closely associated and synonymously linked with the coin-operated music machine popular during the 50s and the 60s called the jukebox. The advent of the wonder music box all the more pushed his popularity to such unimaginable height that the tin pan alley consistently ran out of stock of his vinyl recordings in 33 and 45 rpm and cassette tapes.
Generally, Eddie’s songs were soulful and plaintive…laden with a gamut of emotions, longings, heartaches, and frustrations. He’s mighty proud of the 16 Long Playing albums he was able to record with 9 CDs to boot.
Singing sensation and Jukebox King Eddie Peregrina had also invaded showbusiness and eventually became successful in his conquest. The more than 20 movies he did during his lifetime included the following box office hits which could indubitably attest to his silver screen popularity: “I Do Love You” (1969) with Esperanza Fabon (now a judge); “My Darling Eddie” (1969) with Vilma Santos (currently Batangas governor and occasional actress), Edgar Mortiz, and Espie Fabon; “The Jukebox King” (1969) with Vilma Santos and Espie Fabon; “What Am I Living For?” (1970) with Perla Adea (now a retired teacher); “Mother Song” (1970) with Vilma Santos; “May Hangganan Ang Pag-ibig” (1970) with Vilma Santos; “Your Love” (1970) with Perla Adea and Lyn Salazar (a singer-actress who became his wife); “Dito Sa Aking Puso” (1970) with Nora Aunor (Philippine Superstar and still currently active); “Mardy” (1970) with Vilma Santos; “Make Love, Not War” (1971), “Batul of Mactan” (1974) with Lyn Salazar, and “Memories of Our Dreams” (1974) with Espie Fabon.
One couldn’t just imagine how Eddie was able to handle the chaotic schedules during his heydays: taping and performing live his regular TV show, doing live radio broadcasts and attending photoshoots, juggling between roadside commitments and personal appearances, while simultaneously shooting two or three movies that averaged to at least seven movies a year in 1969 and 1970. That was how frantic and demanding his timetable was!
But despite his tight schedules the Jukebox cum Boxoffice King’s innately keen business acumen did not fail to offer him prospective opportunities to invest in sure-fire income-generating ventures: he put up his own recording studio aptly named EdViPer Records and a photography firm, PerVil Photo Studio that concurrently all the more fattened his bank account.
It won’t be easy to just throw Eddie Peregrina’s memories to oblivion. On April 30, his surviving fans and family will commemorate the 39th anniversary of his passing. The Original Jukebox King might have been gone for long but his musical legacy lives incessantly in the hearts of those who lived and loved with his immortal songs.
And what better way to relive the past and tread down memory lane to reminisce the grandeur of his lifetime than listening once more to his sentimental hits via the vocal rendition of his eldest daughter, Edlyn, in a tribute concert sometime in mid-May.
Incidentally, Edlyn, who has vague memories of her dad’s popular status and tragic death since she was only 6, had recorded an album and several singles after her father’s death. Whether record producers merely capitalized on Eddie’s death or truthfully believed in Edlyn’s talent was beyond question since the latter had everything what it took to be a singing star in her own right. Almost all songs were in her dad’s honor: “Daddy Mahal Kita,” “Mga Himig ni Daddy,” “Mariguita,’ and many more… all are available in YouTube.
When she was 7 and 8, she had performed with the Apo Hiking Society, Celeste Legaspi, Jograd Dela Torre, and guested in several radio and television shows.
Together with younger sister, Michelle (who’s now married to an Octavo of Winnipeg, Canada), they were billed as The Peregrina Sisters and released a cassette tape with 5 songs each under Crystal Records.
Singing was undoubtedly in her blood. There was no stopping Edlyn from pursuing what she wanted to do and dreamed to be. When she turned 18, she joined a 7-piece band to Manama, Bahrain where the group was contracted at Le Vendom Hotel for 5 years…that was during the historic Gulf War.
Edlyn went back to the Philippines after her contract expired but signed up again for another overseas assignment: that time longer and Saipan-bound as a soloist of a 10-piece band at the Pacific Island Club of the Pacific Hotel, an agreement that extended up to 20 years.
Having had enough of Asian destinations, Edlyn decided to try her luck in Los Angeles, California with a 3-piece accompaniment dubbed as The Icon Band. And while in the west coast, Las Vegas, in particular, her heart skipped a beat when a flame ignited the quiescent ember long inactive due to intense workload. The serendipitous meeting overpoweringly offered her renewed enthusiasm and vivacity that inspired and motivated her to dream lofty dreams again.
A contented heart is where a compatible heart is… and she followed the object of her affection to New York where the latter is based… and life, for Edlyn, was never as blissfully fulfilling and ecstatically contended since.
Instinctively considerate and grateful, Edlyn straightforwardly singled out Popsie (Marisse Panlilio) to thank for for her exposure in the east coast that continues to strengthen her visibility in every watering hole and entertainment venue in the tri-state area.
Her past was but bitter-sweet, the present is agreeably great, and she perceives the future to be dazzling bright…still singing when free from her day job as a caregiver.
“I know my Dad has always been around and watching over me while I carry on his legacy. To you, Dad, where ever you are thank you for the gift of life…and thank you for all the memories,” Edlyn said.
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