EVELYN was 32 years old, when she became a widow. With two daughters, Edlyn, 6, and two-year old Michelle, she had no choice but ‘to learn to live alone’, very much like the song specifically requested by her late husband for her to learn by heart.
“One day, he brought me this long playing album that carried the song “It Takes Too Long (To Learn To Live Alone). Nagandahan siya, and he said sana daw pag-aralan ko at kantahin. Little did I know that it would be the song of my life,” said former singer-actress Lyn Salazar, widow of the late ‘Jukebox King’ Eddie Peregrina.
“I became so thin. Parang walang laman ang ulo ko,” was how she described
herself, months after Eddie died. “Ang bilis ng pangyayari. Eddie was healthy. Ni hindi
nagkakasakit. Tapos, sa isang iglap, wala na.”
Peregrina was only 32 when he died in Polymedic Hospital on April 30 1977. The popular singer sustained fatal concussions in his internal organs due to a car accident. He was on his way home from a two-day taping at ABS-CBN, when the car he was driving bumped into a doctor’s car along an underpass in Shaw Boulevard. “Daig pa raw sa sipa ng kabayo ang tumama sa sikmura n’ya“, said Lyn.
Eddie died exactly a month and a week later after the accident. “Lumalaban s’ya pero hindi na kaya ng katawan“, she said. “He had a major operation almost every week. Our friends said that had he lived, Eddie would have been reduced to a vegetable. He couldn’t even talk because his trachea was perforated. So, even singing would be out of the picture.”
Peregrina’s losing his precious singing voice was truly ironic for an idol, who practically sang his way to success. As early as six years old, Peregrina had been winning in amateur singing contests like the DZXL’s “Tita Betty’s Children Show”.
The next twenty-six years of his life saw Eddie conquered other national singing contests like the “Tawag ng Tanghalan”, worked as a singer in Japan for five years with The Blinkers band, and became the first Jukebox King of his homeland.
During the early 60’s, a singer’s popularity was practically determined by the jukebox, a coin-operated machine that can play specially selected songs from self-contained media. It was a period when fans dropped twenty centavos in a jukebox to listen to Timi Yuro’s “Crazy” or Matt Monro’s “Walk Away” and “Before You Go”.
Of course, Eddie’s songs like “Together Again”, “Two Lovely Flowers”, “Mardy” and “I Do Love You” were considered as national love songs and outdid their foreign counterparts not only at the jukebox but also on the airwaves, in restaurants and well….. the local cabarets.
His real name was Eddie Villavicencio Peregrina. He was born and raised in Manila but his dad Octavio hailed from Pililia, Rizal and his mother Nena was from Cebu. Eddie studied Architecture at the University of Santo Tomas. He was a scorpio, borne on November 11, 1944.
“Ed was very kind, malambing pero seloso and quite possessive when it came to his family. Kaya noon, lagi akong naka- mumu dress kahit nasa bahay”, said Lyn. “When he was at home, he was the ideal father. Yung tipong nagbubuhat ng sako ng bigas. My in-laws said that even as a child, Eddie was inherently nice.
“Amang- ama siya. He was strict to his daughters. Ayaw nang matigas ang ulo. ”
Eddie and Lyn shared a total of seven years as a couple before Eddie died. “As much as possible, gusto n’ya isa lang sa pamilya ang nasa showbiz”, she said. “That’s the reason why I quit. He was sharing his all to the public but his family was entirely his.
I recalled that before he died, he promised that we would soon come out in public as a couple. Noon kasi, fans were different. Ayaw nila na may asawa ang idol nila. That’s why we kept our marriage a secret as much as possible. Nasasaktan ako, but coming from showbiz myself, I also understood the reality.”
Eddie was already famous before Nora Aunor became a superstar. In fact, there was this show on Channel 9 that billed him ahead of Nora, “The Eddie- Nora Show(1970)”.
He also did a number of films, like “Mardy” with Vilma Santos, “Memories of our Dreams” with showbiz loveteam Esperanza Fabon and wife, Lyn, “Batul of Mactan” (1974), “Your Love” (1970) and “Dito sa Aking Puso” with Nora (Aunor).
“Napakahusay niyang makisama. He would travel the extra mile to defend his friends and fans,” said Lyn. “There was this incident between the studio’s security and his fans and his driver. Talagang ipinaglaban n’ya ang fans. And they adored him for that. Many times, Eddie would be surprised to see his fans ahead of him on movie locations. Kahit gaano kalayo, sinusundan s’ya.”
During his prime, Eddie, aside from his television show was doing one record album after another. Among his many popular songs were: “What Am I Living For?”, “Don’t Ever Leave Me”, “Puppy Love”, “The Voice of Love”, “Return to Me”, “In My Little Room”, “The Wonder of You”, Mga Bakas ng Lumipas”, You Mean Everything to Me” and “Lonely Boy”.
He was a known balladeer and his songs reeked of emotion. But according to Lyn, Eddie was hardly a loner. “Palabiro nga ‘yan eh. Pero napakataas talaga ng boses”. She said that each time, Eddie would hit a very high note, he would tip one of his feet backwards for support in case he collapsed. “Nakakahilo daw kasi kapag masyadong mataas ang kanta”, she added.
“We even recorded an album, “Our Wedding Song”. But personally, among his songs, my favorite is “Memories of Our Dreams”. It echoed our love for each other.”
“Eddie wasn’t bound to material things”, she continued. “He made a lot of money, pero nakakalat lang ang pera n’ya sa kotse. He was the top earner of Swan Records. He was also able to put up some business of his own, the Edviper Records and the Pervil Photo Studio.”
“He was a simple guy”, she described. “He wasn’t fond of jewelry, clothes and even perfume. Hindi siya maporma, although he had heaps of clothes, courtesy of Palaganas. But he loved to read books. He also idolized (Ferdiannd) Marcos, ang talino daw. He read all his books.”
While Lyn had many suitors, she decided not to remarry. She still lives in a house built by Eddie for their family, in Better Living, Bicutan. Their two children, Edlyn and Michelle who grew up without knowing their dad eventually ended up following his footsteps. Edlyn, still single, had been in Saipan as a singer for many years now, while the younger Michelle, who is happily married, has her own band.