This 11-time "Best Male Performer" Awit awardee is a known Christian in his home country, the Philippines. Although predominantly Christian, the Philippine population has a considerable percentage of Muslim people. But Gary’s songs transcend denominations. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point out the spiritual overtones in his songs and yet listeners from everywhere still gravitate to his music.
His diabetes battle does not get in the way of his rise to fame as a performer. If anything, it adds to his mass appeal. What’s even more impressive about Gary is his amazing way with people. He has this welcoming aura about him which can easily win anyone over. Gary knows that and does not waste any opportunity to share his faith with people from all walks of life. Because of his upright lifestyle and vocal declaration of his faith in Jesus Christ, Gary V. remains to be a credible Christian being used mightily by the Lord to touch the lives of his showbiz colleagues.
Gary’s Family Background
Gary’s parents met in New York but decided to settle in the Philippines where his photographer father, Vicente Valenciano, is from. His mother, Grimilda Santiago Ortíz, is from Puerto Rico and is an opera singer. Vicente and Grimilda’s family eventually grew bigger. Gary, who was born on 6 August 1964, would be the sixth of their seven broods.
Gary took after his mother in his love for performing. Dancing and singing before an audience thrilled the young boy. He attended La Salle Green Hills from primary to high school except in 1978 when he spent a year in the Orlando Memorial High School. A good-looking teen, he was made an endorser of Fress Gusto, a local soft-drink, when he was 14 years old. As ironic as it may sound, Gary was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in that same year and has since then became dependent on insulin doses. His diabetes proved to be a genetic one because his mother also had it. His illness did little to dampen his spirits though and he kept on nurturing his singing and dancing talent.
Gary Discovers Singing
His passion for the arts led him to join Kundirana, a La Salle choir when he was around 17 years old. It was where he discovered just how much he loves to entertain people. As far as Gary is concerned, nothing is more fulfilling than being able to touch people’s lives by giving them joy. Gary knew before he even turned 20 that it is what he wants to do all his life. It didn’t matter that he had diabetes and could just collapse without warning should he run out of insulin. The taxing work of a celebrity did not seem to bother Gary at all.
Starting a Family and Rising to Fame
In 1982, Gary debuted in “The Pilita and Jackie Show,” where he sang and did some dance routines. However, it was in "Germspesyal" and "Penthouse Live" that he became more popular to mainstream TV audience. Gary showed a lot of potential and in 1984 had his first solo concert at the Araneta Coliseum—then the biggest concert hall in the Philippines.
The concert was a huge success and catapulted Gary to fame. It won’t take long before the media dubbed him as Mr. Pure Energy. It might be hard to believe how Gary was able to focus on his career in spite of having to start his own family at a very young age. Gary met María Anna Elizabeth "Angeli" Pangilinan through her brothers during a fair variety show in Maryknoll High School, now known as Miriam College. Angeli introduced Gary to Sandra Chavez, her band (Music and Magic) manager.
The two inevitably fell for each other and soon married. Gary’s firstborn, Juan Paolo Martin, was born when he was only 19 years old. Many years later, during his eldest son’s wedding, Gary would reminisce holding Paolo for the first time and feeling the inexplicable joy of becoming a father. Two more babies were added to their family—José Angelo Gabriel and Kristiana María Mikaela.
The Valencianos become Christians
Although successful and happy, Gary had always been haunted by the possibility of not being able to see his children grow up. He’s always been afraid of what lay ahead in the future. This caused him to sometimes become hopeless. Nothing prepared him for what is to come when he and his wife joined Angeli’s sister for dinner.
Gary saw a Bible on the table and mindlessly picked it up. Angeli’s brother-in-law, Vicente Arenas Jr., asked him if he knew who Jesus Christ is to which he replied, “The son of God?” His next question took him aback: “If you die tonight, where do you think would you go?” He didn’t know how to answer the question. That’s when Vicente talked to him and his wife about salvation. The couple went home renewed and saved. Gary’s compositions were laden with spiritual messages and he would be later on known as a composer of Christian songs (although he also releases secular music time and again).
Releases Successful Songs and Founds the Shining Light Foundation
By the year 1989, Gary was already a well-known artist. In fact, his song won Best Theme Song in FAMAS Awards for "Ibulong mo sa Diyos" (Whisper to God). It was in that same year that he founded the Shining Light Foundation in the Philippines. Up to this day, Gary still actively raises funds for the foundation by doing concerts.
He’s released lots of Christian songs originally written by him. Some of the most popular are “Shout For Joy,” “Take Me Out of The Dark,” “When I Hear You Call,” “Break Me,” “Shake It Off,” “That's Why,” “Search and Know,” “Face To Face,” “As You Are.” Although Christian songs tend to only stay in the confines of the church, there’s something about Gary’s songs that make it appealing even to those who call themselves non-religious.
The First UNICEF Philippines' National Ambassador
In 1998, Gary Valenciano became the first Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF. Gary Valenciano takes this task seriously and has remained to be an inspiration to many for his dedication to improving the lives of his fellow Filipinos. When he was asked why he decided to join UNICEF, he only has this to say:
"Before all the other children's organizations existed, I was already aware of UNICEF. Though not totally knowledgeable about it back then, I knew it stood for something I could see myself being a part of. And then the first offer came in the early 90's to do a fund raising campaign and concert for UNICEF and immediately I agreed. I had already done a number of fund raisers for and with UNICEF prior to my becoming officially a part of this family.
It was in 1997/98 when the invite came in for me to represent UNICEF as its Ambassador for the Philippines. Being a father, I had the burden for the cause of children's rights, and I wanted to contribute in any way in order to reach out especially to the Filipino children in remote areas. I have no regrets, just a vision that one day through the recruitment of more Champions for Children (donors) and sharing the mission of the group to them, we could touch the hearts and change the lives of other children and make the world a better place for them to live in." (Source: UNICEF Philippines)
A Dedicated Father and Artist
Gary finds his calling in serving the children and helping them become productive citizens of the country. No matter how busy he is with humanitarian projects, though, Gary is a family man through and through. He is an avid believer of the family being every person’s priority other than their faith. Just because one is successful career-wise doesn’t mean he or she can already disregard family.
Not only is Gary successful as a singer and composer; he is also a celebrated actor. He has released movies and acted in some drama anthologies shown on TV. In 2000, Gary won the Dr. Ciriaco Santiago Memorial Award and was named one of the TOYM (The Outstanding Young Men in the Philippines) Awardees for Contemporary Music. This goes to show how esteemed Gary is in the music industry. Alongside that are his successful albums and singles. In 1996, he again won the Best Theme Song in FAMAS Awards for "Sana Maulit Muli" (Wish It Happens Again).
In 2001, Sennheiser, a famous audio company named a microphone after him. The “Garry V” microphone was just one of the products released by Sennheiser to honor world-renowned artists. Other Sennheiser microphones named after performers are the “Mariah Carey,” “Celine Dion,” “Whitney Houston,” “Paul McCartney,” “Elton John,” “Backstreet Boys,” “Julio Iglesias,” and “Sting.”
In that same year, Gary also became the first Filipino to perform at the Musik Messe. It is the world’s largest and most esteemed exhibit and convention of musical instruments and equipment dealers. He has also won in the 17th Awit Awards in the Best Performance by a Duet in 2004.
A Close Encounter with Death
Gary couldn’t ask for anything more. He’s got a colorful career, a beautiful family, and a personal relationship with the Lord. But his faith would again be tested when in 2005 he suffered a severe hypoglycemic attack when he took insulin and slept without having dinner. It caused his body to run low on sugar. Angeli woke up at 3AM and he began convulsing shortly after. The first thing she did was ask for prayers and put glucose into his mouth, which he thankfully was able to swallow.
Had Angeli not awaken, Gary would have fell into a coma. Their family was brought even closer together by that encounter. Gary would always tell people that it is in his weakness that God shows His strength. He has always been a living testimony of God’s faithfulness and goodness. Every day that’s added to his life, he considers as another chance for him to reach out to people and tell them about his existence that’s filled with joy in spite of living one dose away from death.
But death is not something that scares Gary anymore. He’s known better now. What he only wants to do is to make the most of the life he is given to make a difference in the lives of people God puts in his path. Many celebrities going through a hard time would be heard thanking Gary for patiently giving some of his precious time to be with them at times when they need someone to talk to. He would give them words of wisdom only when he is asked. Perhaps that’s what makes Gary an endearing Christian even to people who do not share his faith. He knows the value of relationships and painstakingly builds that trust so he could be the go-to person of people who need the Lord in their lives.
More Awit Awards followed and he currently has 11 trophies in his possession. He also has five Platinum albums, four double Platinum albums, three triple Platinum albums, and two sextuple Platinum albums.
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- Shining Light Foundation
- Champions for Children
Awards and Achievements
- 1978: Appeared in an advertisement for local soft-drink Fress Gusto
- 1982: Appeared as a solo artist in The Pilita and Jackie Show
- 1984: Had his first solo concert
- 1989: Won Best Theme Song in FAMAS Awards for "Ibulong mo sa Diyos" (Whisper to God)]
- 1989: Founded the Shining Light Foundation
- 1996: Won the Best Theme Song in FAMAS Awards for "Sana Maulit Muli" (Wish It Happens Again)
- 1998: Became the first UNICEF Ambassador of Goodwill
- 2000: Won Dr. Ciriaco Santiago Memorial Award
- 2001: One of the TOYM (The Outstanding Young Men in the Philippines) Awardees for Contemporary Music
- 2001: Sennheiser released “Gary V” microphone
- 2001: Was the first Filipino artist to perform at the Musik Messe
- 2004: Won in the 17th Awit Awards in the Best Performance by a Duet
- 2006: Won Movie Theme Song of the Year in Star Awards for "Dubai"
- 2006: Won Best Original Song in the Golden Screen Awards for "Dubai"
- 2006: Won Movie Theme Song of the Year in FAMAS Awards for "Dubai"
- 2007: Nominated Theme Song of the Year in Star Awards for "Eternity"
- 2007: Won the Best Performance by a Male Recording Artist "In Another Lifetime" in the 20th Awit Awards
- 2008: Received the ASAP Elite Platinum Circle Award
- 2008: Nominated for "Best Single Performance By An Actor" in the 22nd PMPC Star Awards for TV
- 2013: Nominated Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Musical or Comedy) in the Golden Screen Awards for I Do Bidoo Bidoo: Heto nApo sila!
- Has released 26 albums
- Won the Awit Awards for "Best Male Performer" eleven times
- Has been awarded five Platinum albums
- Has been awarded four double Platinum albums
- Has been awarded three triple Platinum albums
- Has been awarded two sextuple Platinum albums
- Appeared in 13 full length movies over the span of his career
- Appeared in the 41st "Kohaku Utagassen," the Japanese New Year's Eve Red-and-White Song Festival
- "Revive" went sextuple-platinum (more than 180,000 units sold)
Wikipedia (Gary Valenciano)
Gary V. (About Gary Valenciano)
Philippine Entertainment Portal (Gary Valenciano gets emotional about Paolo’s wedding and Gab’s plan to continue his studies)
IMDb (Biography for Gary Valenciano)
DLife (Gary Valenciano Biography)
IMDb (Awards for Gary Valenciano)
UNICEF Philippines (Q&A with Gary Valenciano, UNICEF National Ambassador)
CBN.com (The Rebirth of Gary Valenciano)
Gluxus.com (Gary Valenciano)
Filipino Christian Achievers (Gary Valenciano: Mr. Pure Energy)
Inquirer.net (Gary Valenciano and his Faith)
Carousel (Gary Valenciano)
Lyrics Freak (Gary Valenciano Biography)
PhilStar.com (At home with Gary V.)
PhilStar.com (Sexy Talk with Gary V.)
Paper Blog (A Man’s Antics and His Moisturizer – Gary Valenciano & His Kiehl’s Recovery Skin Salve)