Along with Wally Gonzalez, Resty Fabunan and Jun Lopito, Gary Perez was considered as one of the country’s best rock guitarists.
He was also partly responsible for writing “Bonggahan”, “Tao” and some of the other big hits of Sampaguita, dubbed as the Queen of Pinoy Rock at the height of her popularity in the late ’70s.
After leaving for the proverbial greener pastures in the US and staying there for 21 years, Gary returned to the country a year and a half ago after ending his marriage with his now ex-wife with whom he has three children. Having spent all his money, the flamboyant guitarist is now alone, homeless and facing a lonely and uphill battle to claim the royalties to his songs.
“I am now staying with friends with no food money to spend because I’m not getting my expected royalties which was due last Dec. 1,” Gary told InterAksyon. “While I was in the States for 21 years, she has been collecting the royalties.”
“I am the writer of ‘Bonggahan’, ‘Tao’, ‘Laguna’, ‘Sa Diyos Lamang’, ‘Sayawan’, ‘Mahilig’ and a victim of I don’t know what you call it but homeless now and suffering because they are claiming rights to my works.”
All of the songs Gary mentioned were recorded by Sampaguita backed by his band Anak Bayan. On the vinyl copies of these recordings, words and music were credited to the name Gary Perez. Some of them, particularly “Tao” and “Sa Diyos Lamang” were later covered by other artists such as Noel Cabangon and Color It Red.
Gary said he already approached the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (FILSCAP)—the group that administers the public performance and reproduction rights of creators and owners of original musical works—to facilitate the immediate release of his rightful royalties. Gary is a member of the association.
The musician said he received a text message last December purportedly from current FILSCAP president Noel Cabangon that said, “Much as I want to give what is due you, the society cannot release any of your performance royalties until the case is settled in your favor. Pasensya na, Gary but we need to follow procedures and legal processes. We cannot just make a decision and put the society in an uncertain situation. We need to wait for the result of PolyEast’s demand letter to Sampaguita. But don’t worry, the society will make sure that your case is moving.”
When asked if the issue could still be settled amicably between him and Sampaguita, Gary said yes, there was such an initial effort.
“Once I arrived here, she contacted me and said she will give me one million but she already spent the money and asked that just forgive her, but I still did see her to clarify things only to find out she wanted to be my manager and use, exploit me again. Lately I texted her again but no reply. She’s mad that I joined Filscap,” he said.
While waiting for the case and contemplating further legal action, Gary has no other source of income. Gigs as well as session work are few and far between for the talented musician.
“I don’t have anything, had to give up my apartment condo and now homeless with no money to spend. I’ve sold a lot of things, like my computer, guitars and at this moment ready to sell another guitar so I can have money to spend for food. I’ve been back here in the country for one and a half years and I’m now poor as a rat as I spent ‘em all. My manager never gave me bookings. Only Pepe Smith’s manager was kind enough to give me bookings from time to time.”
Even his newly released solo album, “GarypereZ OriginalZ”, which a lot of people are not even aware of, is not likely to deliver any monetary dividends for him.
“My manager and I have just split up for percentage and personal reasons, and PolyEast records said they will promote it full blast if I sign with them. But my manager who produced the recording wanted a ridiculous amount of money to release me even though I don’t have a binding contract with him. That’s still another trial in my life.”
The only silver lining in what seems to be a very dark cloud for Gary is that he still has lots of songs that are good enough for another album, which he hopes to present to another record label.
But he remains hopeful that friends in the industry can also help him get back on his feet at the soonest possible time.
“Right now I’m living at my girlfriend’s friends house who’s so nice and accommodating. But of course I don’t want to invade her privacy and comfort zone and the arrangement is really only for the meantime,” he revealed.
“I have never experienced this in my life ever. I’m really struggling to survive.Please, I’m so desperate, depressed, disappointed, name it. I just cling to God but I still need to do what it takes to survive.”