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The Enduring Songs of Didith

18 Greatest Hits

Didith had all the makings of a star, good looks, great voice, natural sex appeal. She was sweet, thoughtful and liked to have fun. But she was also given to mercurial bursts of temper she was unable to control. In the end, she was like a shooting star who gleamed brightly only for a short time. If I remember right Didith did make other recordings later but things had changed by then. Her descent from the top had began and things for Didith, the big-selling pop star was never the same again.

This is no belated reaction to Didith’s passing. I got to thinking about her again after I got a copy of Didith Reyes 18 Greatest Hits. It is part of a new series of hit compilations from stars of the 70’s and 80’s. Among the 18 Greatest Hits CDs now available are those by Victor Wood, Anthony Castelo, Jun Polistico, Nonoy Zuniga and others. This must be Didith’s very first CD release. We had long-play albums then and she was already out of the music scene when records became CDs. It is a mixed bag and does not really give an accurate picture of how mesmerizing she was as a singer. But these, aside from one Christmas album were all she got to record. It should suffice.

The album has all the big hits, some lesser known ones and some great covers. Didith was Vicor Music’s prized female singer at the time and she was made to record hits popularized by other singers of the period like Rico Puno, Kapalaran and Damdamin; Victor Wood, Bughaw Na Buhangin; Basil Valdez, Hanggang Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan; and the Manila Sound band Cinderella, Bato Sa Buhangin. There are also standards like Kahit Na Magtiis. Very good stuff but the ones to listen too and those which make this CD a keeper are the songs that made her a star.

Araw-Araw Gabi-Gabi was Didith’s first recording after she left the Circus Band to go solo. It was also the first composition by Willy Cruz, who believes that Didith’s success with the song paved the way for his phenemenal career as a songwriter. With lyrics by Ernie de la Pena it was the theme song of the movie of the same title that starred Charito Solis. This was followed by Hindi Kami Damong Ligaw with the same team, a song by Willy and Ernie and a film of the same title that also starred Charito Solis. It became Didith’s second hit. Bakit Ako Mahihiya written by Pablo Vergara for the movie that starred Alma Moreno came next. By that time there was no more stopping Didith’s rise to the top.

The song she was singing during that memorable night of the Famas Awards at the Manila Hotel in 1977 is not in the CD. It was the old folk song Pandangguhan. Didith was wearing an orange kaftan designed by Goulee Gorospe, front to back by mistake. She was moving a lot to the beat of the song and the low back neckline in front led to the accident. There was Didith on stage and on national television with her breasts exposed. She later wore the same gown on the cover of her next album Nananabik. That famous incident and a new hit in Nananabik established Didith’s reputation as a sex symbol. All those are now parts of fading memories, save for her songs which thankfully have been digitally remastered and are once more available in this new CD.

09 March 2009, Philippine Star

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