A MUSICIAN’S LIFE
He loved playing the guitar even as a toddler. It was the first real toy he got from his father when he was five years old. And it was a love affair that would take him to several places, several stages, several films in a span of almost six decades. He was the country’s best guitarist for a long time. He was the counterpart of the most precocious musicians that ever graced the planet and he was almost a perfect match for their skill. For a time, he occupied the top of the music world as one of the most sought after instrumentalists in the country.
He is Benjamin Tesoro, the youngest brother of my father. Personal equation dictates that I must be partial and patronizing to a fault because of relation. But no. The man has received enough accolades to be recognized and no amount of boot licking can erase his record. I only want to record what could have been a significant footnote in the country’s musical history which has been overtaken by crass commercialism.
In the 60s, Ben Tesoro was a budding band member. His talent however got better until he was literally shove to perform along with great performers and thespians during the period. He was the instrumentalist behind the voice of Eddie Mesa, then the Elvis Presley of the Philippines. He was the guitar soloist when the music of Ventures captured the air waves. He was a constant band player strumming along with another great musician, Ramon Jacinto. The latter would acknowledge the prowess of Ben and would hand over the medal for musical ingenuity to the former every time they would compete for guitar wizardry.
In the 70s, he was a familiar musician abroad. In the 80s and 90s, he returned back to the country and once again guested in most high end casinos and hotels. In 2000s his music precocity was subjected to various recording studios. It was also during this period when the stress of nightly gigs would have a telling blow on his health. Much of what he had accumulated went through hospitalization and recovery. A few years later, he was back again on the stage regaling audience with his mastery of the guitar.
His generation defined the musical episode of the times. It was a period of copying the best, venturing for originality, experimenting with other medium, exploring other sounds and a combination of native and electronic bytes. Ben Tesoro has familiarized himself not only with basic musical instruments but has served as band leader and conductor, at ease in handling not only the lead, rhythm and bass guitar but also the entire harmony and arrangement for a song.
His period is about to retire soon. There will be no more musical wizardry to watch and listen. His performance could no longer be duplicated. Skills and talents no longer are part of individual domain because of technology. Eventually, gone would be those days when gigs and jamming were a part of a brilliant and competent generation. The digital chapter and robotic phase have slowly been replacing human ingenuity. Time will come when Man would just be a decoration to a highly technological world where electricity and capacitors rule the universe.
The music of Ben Tesoro however will forever be embedded in the consciousness of a generation that pursued sincerely the hallmark of true humanism. Those days are about to end.
POSTSCRIPT: Benjamin Tesoro crossed over at the age of 68 last February 15, 2015, 3 PM in his residence at Muntinlupa City. His remains lay in wake at Divine Mercy Chapels, National Road, Tunasan, Muntinlupa City. On those days, the best and the most prolific musicians of the country paid their last respect to one of their beloved peer in the world of Rock and Roll. When I published the above article last February 26, 2014, he was very happy and inspired to have read it. Government should have recognized him and his fellow musicians not only for their talents but for contributing to national consciousness the road to peace through music.