THE Philippine music industry is blessed with generations of brilliant songwriters, continuously fueling the OPM spirit through the years. But one particular songwriter has managed to withstand the challenges of time – Vehnee Saturno.
On September 2016, ABS-CBN’s ASAP show gave tribute to the hits of Saturno and during the said production, Martin Nievera gave the most fitting intro – “It’s an honor to share the stage with one of OPM’s precious gems, the man behind the songs that truly changed our lives, captured our hearts and became part of our history, OPM Hitmaker Vehnee Saturno”.
The accolade “hitmaker” indeed fits him perfectly, as his songs have become notable instruments in the rose to stardom of many artists. His first big hit was the song “Be My Lady’ in 1983 which was recorded by then promising singer Martin Nievera. It has launched both his and Nievera’s careers as songwriter and concert artist respectively.That big break led to a string of gold, platinum, and multi-platinum record awards. He scored a surprise hit in the song “Sana Kahit Minsan” that gave birth to a new singing sensation in Ariel Rivera. His songs also launched the careers of Ella May Saison with “Bakit Ba?” and “Till My Heartaches End” and Allona with “Someone’s Always Saying Goodbye.” In 1990, his song “Nag-iisang Ikaw” for Louie Heredia was the most requested Original Pilipino Music (OPM) and gave Heredia his first Platinum Award. Hit after hit, his songs did wonders to the rising careers of Donna Cruz, with “Only Me and You;” Jessa Zaragoza, with “Bakit Pa?” Jaya with “Dahil Tanging Ikaw” and “Wala Na Bang Pag-ibig.” Even singing heartthrob Jay-R and Pop Princess Sarah Geronimo acknowledge the fact that Saturno’s songs, “Bakit Pa Ba?” and “Forever’s Not Enough” greatly contributed to their respective careers.
Aside from writing songs for the OPM scene, he constantly finds ways to introduce the Filipino music and artistry to the international crowd. He has joined (and won) prestigious international songwriting festivals like the ASEAN Song Festivals in Indonesia, First Asia Pacific Song Contest in Singapore, Midnight Sun Song Festival in Finland, USA Songwriting Contest, and Asia Shanghai Music Festival. He also collaborates with various international producers and composers.
And recently, he has been exploring the artist management niche and has been helping aspiring Filipino singers launch their own careers locally and in the international arena.
James Wright is one of those up-and-coming artists who Saturno has helped along the way. Wright who is a product of the GMA talent search “Anak Ko Yan” has worked with Saturno since his talent search stint. Saturno produced Wright’s self-titled debut album which received a gold record award in 2015. The songs in the album were also used in different GMA TV series like “Kung Hindi Ikaw” OST of teleserye My Destiny by Carla Abellana and Tom Rodriguez, “My Destiny” OST of My Love from the Star, and “Mahal na Nga Kita” OST of KoreanovelaLet’s Fight, Ghost.
Beverly Caimen, a young Filipina singer from Laguna, is also one of the noteworthy artists whose career blossomed because of Saturno. After joining the World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) where she won the Best Vocalist Performance, she worked with Saturno in an album distributed through GMA Records. Now, Caimen is making waves in Japan’s music scene with her songs used as OST for several TV Series.
Another artist who Saturno takes pride in is Esang de Torres. This young singer was known as a finalist of The Voice Kids in 2015. Though she didn’t win the grand prize, her career has actually just begun from that point on.Even before she joined the contest she has been training with Saturno through his Vehnee Saturno Music Training Center (VSMTC). Under his guidance, Esang continued to improve her craft and has even starred in musical theater plays, like in Les Miserables Singapore where she played the young Cosette, and in Matilda the Musical at the Meralco Theater in 2017. She also continuously records songs composed by Saturno, with their recent song “Awit Sa Marawi” receiving a plaque of appreciation from the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and Balai Filipino. The song has since been used by the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) in their various activities for Project Bangon Marawi.
Also a popular singer of this generation, who was first discovered by Vehnee Saturno, is RNB singer Daryl Ong. His singing of Saturno’s hit songs has been his ticket to success when he made his own version of Saturno’s “Ikaw na Nga”, originally sang by Willie Revillame. ABS-CBN decided to use it as one of the theme songs for their teleserye “Bridges of Love”, starring Maja Salvador, Jerico Rosales and Paolo Avelino. Since then, Ong has captured the hearts of Filipino fans. He signed up a recording deal with a Korean producer who aims to release Korean music globally. This offer came after Ong successfully covered an English interpretation of the Korean song “Beautiful”, OST to hit TV series “Goblin”.
Refusing to rest on his laurels, Saturno tirelessly continues to write and produce songs and always makes it a point to keep an open eye and heart for aspiring and talented artists. His undeniable talent and generosity in music has touched many artists who have dreamed of making it to the same industry where he has flourished for the past 38 years.