Victor Wood-the jukebox king

During
the rowdy 70s, Victor Wood was the first name in music.  He was the lord of tin pan alley, the
proverbial jukebox king.

His
was a dizzying success that he himself found very hard to comprehend. After
all, he was once among the beggars sleeping in Quiapo church. No, he wasn’t a pauper,
although he was practically a vagabond who frequented the church, very drunk, due
to desperation.

“One
night, while deep in praying, lasing na
lasing ako
,  I asked God ‘ba’t pa ‘ko isinilang, ganito lang naman
pala ang buhay
,” he recalled. “Ayun,
ten years later, naging Victor Wood ako.

His
was a from-nothing–to-something Cinderella story.  “Mine was an uphill climb because when I was 13,
my neighbors said bobo daw ako because
I couldn’t even finish high-school”, he stated.

Victor
was born in Buhi, Camarines Sur but moved early on to Bustillos, Sampaloc where
he spent most of his childhood, alone. Her mother Rosario Nobleza was an herbolaria back in his hometown while
his dad Sgt. Kocky Wood was, well, absent most of his life.

“To make ends meet, I worked as a newsboy.  I’d wake up at four to pick-up the morning newspapers.
At around six, tuloy ako sa school. Being
in a squatter’s area, puro siga ang nasa
paligid ko,
like the Sigue—Sigue Sputnik,” he continued.

“I
moved to Binangonan during my early teens. There, I was fishing to survive. Nag-kargador din ako.”

It
was there, where he started to hone his singing talent.  He said, “When I joined and won many amateur singing
contests, it dawned on me that I could have a future in this field.”

However,
he was extremely shy.  In fact, he tried
to join “Tawag ng Tanghalan” but
never made it beyond audition. He said, “Kasi,
‘pag nasa
stage ako, nanginginig ako.
My whole body perspired due to nerves.  Hanggang nawala ang ‘Tawag’, hindi ako
pumasa.

“But I didn’t give up on my dreams. To
overcome my shyness, I frequented the wakes. I was ‘omnipresent’ in all the lamayan just to get myself used to
singing in public.”

When
Victor was in late teens, he worked as extra in the movies, until he was
discovered by Pablo Gomez.  “I was about
19, when I became a supporting actor. Doc Perez of Sampaguita Pictures was kind
enough to give me a break. He said na
pang-kontrabida daw ako
”, he said.

It
was Pilita Corrales however who paved the way for his professional singing. “She
was the girlfriend of Eddie Guttierez then”, he added. “In one of their shoots,
I asked her if she could give me a break to sing in ‘Stop, Look and Listen.’   Pareng Ato (Renato del Prado) and Randy
Pimentel used to accompany me to the studio, when Pilita was the featured star.
Orly Punzalan who was the producer
advised me to visit the set each Thursday as a pinch hitter should any of the
guests became unavailable.

“I
was paired with Elizabeth Ramsey. Eh, si
Ramsey, ang kapal ng mukha nun when
it comes to performing. Ayun, nawala ang
nerbiyos ko
. She’s my role model in a way.”

While
doing the show, Victor’s gift of music was noticed by the late Oskee Salazar, who
introduced him to Vic del Rosario of Vicor Records.

“My
first two recordings, ‘Love Can Fly’ and ‘Take My Hands For A While’ bombed”,
he admitted.   “Then I took a hard look at Eddie Peregrina,
who just had a guitar but was churning one hit after another.  It was then when I sought his composer Boy ‘Daryl’
Garcia and asked him to write me a song.”.

That
was how the iconic “I’m Sorry My Love” was born.  “Vic was hesitant to release it, initially,”
he continued. “Ang dami raw piyok.  I reasoned that it was a ‘crying voice’, a
singing style which I concocted that combined the styles of the top three
singers at that time.  My lower voice was
patterned after Tom Jones, the middle range was that of Engelbert Humperdinck’s
while the high tone was Ray Charles.”

Del
Rosario agreed to release it, but only in Cebu
as a test market. The decision however came with a warning that it would also
be his last chance.  For Victor, the
third try proved to be the charm.  In a
snap, the song became number one.  The
rest is, of course, history.

As
musiclandia’s golden boy, his popular songs were transformed overnight into hit
movies—“Mr. Lonely”(1972), “Sweet Caroline”(1971), “I Went To Your Wedding”
(1972), “You Are My Destiny” (1973), etc.  He could acquire and furnish a mansion in a
week, his fans arrived in truckloads right at his frontyard.  He was dishing six albums per year, and
starred with supertars — from Amalia Fuentes (Jesus Christ, Superstar, 1972)
to Nora Aunor (Pearly Shells, 1972).  He
was also the celluloid’s Batman (Fight Batman, Fight, 1973), the Shazam (Shazam, Boom, 1974), and the pinoy troubadour (Trubador, 1972).  He was
larger than life.

His star power dimmed when he
suffered a rare form of vertigo during the late 70s due to non-stop song
recording.  Minsan, nakabalot na buong katawan ko because I was sick, nagre-recording pa rin ako. Yung balancing ng
ear ko, hindi na tama.  Each time I’d hear a noise, nanginginig ako. I couldn’t even think
because there was this constant buzz on my ears.  Sikat
na sikat pa ako noon
but I wasn’t thinking of even, fame. What I wanted was
to regain the tranquility,” he explained.

While
Victor was practically a recluse in his basement, a rumor that he was shot by Bongbong
Marcos surfaced. To disprove it, he was forced to appear on Joe Quirino’s TV show.
But what would have been the solution turned out as the last nail that sealed
his fate.

“The
segment was taped but Joe introduced it as a live performance,” he said. ”Kaso, gumalaw yung tape, tapos naputol pa. Since then, all my
attempts to appear in public became nil. Kasi,
hindi na daw ako yung totoong
Victor  Wood.”

Looking
back at his glory days, he said: “Showbiz is a world of make-believe. The
reality only seeps in when fame is gone.
But I try not to harbor anger or regret.   We should learn to live, today and disallow
sad experiences to linger so that we won’t have to live with our pain for the
rest of our life.”

And
that’s exactly what he has been doing.  This
week, the music album “Father & Son” will be released.  It is a collaborative work with his 20
year-old son, Simon. He also devotes his passion into the art of abstract
impressionism, conducting regular exhibits here and mostly, abroad. Among
others, he’s also into wellness music, to be released next month in a website
under Woodstone brand.

“This
is the best time of my life”, he claimed. “Because I have all the time to do
the things that I love.”

So
what if he lost the fame that was once his. For once in his life he was king.
And not many people could claim the same.
(For comments, send e-mail to
gypsybaldovino@yahoo.com)

3 thoughts on “Victor Wood-the jukebox king

  1. Do you have a contact number of Mr. Victor Wood? We’re planning to invite him as one of our guests on Nov 2, 2013 in Vigan Ilocos Sur. This is a 70th birthday celebration of our Nanang. You may text or email me for feedback (09178460191 / orbe.maryann@gmail.com). Thank you and looking forward for your soonest reply.🙂

    • Victor Wood now a member of the INC (Iglesia Ni Cristo). You can inquire at the INC Central Office to contact him.

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