Filipino music legend Heber Bartolome passes away

By: Angelica Yang

Filipino folk singer and composer Heber Bartolome. Photo lifted from his Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — OPM music legend Heber Bartolome passed away on Monday evening, his brother confirmed on Tuesday.

“Oo. Kagabi lang…nawalan daw ng pulso,” his brother Jesse Bartolome said on DzBB Super Radyo.

He added that his brother has had a lingering prostate illness for more than a year.

Jesse said his brother just celebrated his birthday last Nov. 9.

“Biglaan [ang pagpanaw ni Heber]. Masaya po kami nung bertday niya eh,” Jesse said.

There are no details yet on the burial schedule, but he said that this may be open to the public since his brother’s death was not related to COVID-19.

Heber is known for his songs “Tayo’y Mga Pinoy,” “Nena,” “Pasahero,” and “Almusal,” among others.

Bartolome, formed the band Banyuhay with is brothers Jesse and Levi, during the martial law years. He was a University of the Philippines alumnus before his band became one of the pillars of original Pinoy music. A natural-born artist, Bartolome was a singer and composer, aside from being a painter.

Among the songs Bartolome and the band popularized were “Tayo’y Mga Pinoy” that evoked patriotism, “Dukha” that tackled poverty, “Salome” and “Nena” that pushed for women’s rights and empowerment, and “Payag ka Ba?” a protest music popular among activists.

In one of the articles posted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on the’s Lifestyle channel, Bartolome described himself as a hippie who wore kurtas (Indian shirt) and showed up barefoot for class during his college years.

He founded the UP Astrological Society and inevitably greeted people with the query “what’s your sign?”

But he was also interested in writing, and had been editor of the Pilipino section of the Philippine Collegian.

He joined the UP Writers’ Club in 1973 and the Galian sa Arte at Tula the following year. He also enrolled in a master’s program in Philippine literature.