PHOTO: (Right) Gretchen Ho/Facebook

IT’S SEPTEMBER again, and you know what that means: Jose Mari Chan memes.

You’ve seen them all on your feed by now, many of them now flavored with a pandemic twist. With the start of what is colloquially referred to as the world’s longest holiday season, the song “Christmas In Our Hearts” has achieved immortality in Pinoy pop culture — along with its singer, the eternally beaming Jose Mari Chan.

It’s a role that Chan has come to wryly embrace.

“I feel complimented. And blessed that I’m being associated with the most joyful season of the year,” the 76-year-old singer-songwriter said in a forum with Summit Media editors.

He even gave a shoutout to the "Bawal lumabas ang senior" version of the meme, though Chan jokingly said, "Paano kung nabakunahan na?"

How Jose Mari Chan stays healthy

But even if — as Chan himself pointed out — the memes reuse a certain picture of him over and over again, the pop legend still looks as trim and lively as he does in the jokes your tita posts on her Viber group. So we had to ask him: What’s his secret to good health and long life?

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“My exercise every day is on the treadmill,” he revealed to SPIN Life. “I do the treadmill for about 35 minutes, sometimes 45 minutes. But that’s the extent of my physical activity.”

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He finds his lack of physical exercise ironic, since he comes from a family of athletes.

“My father played golf. He was a good golfer,” remembered Chan. “Then my brother, who just passed away 40 days ago, he was a tennis player, a badminton player, and a golfer. He was also a basketball player when he was younger. My sisters are all into tennis and everything. I’m the only one na bulok sa sports!”

In fact, as a young high school student in Iloilo, he did everything in his power to avoid being called on during PE classes.

“We were required to play basketball every day after school,” said Chan. “And so I was part of the team, and before the game we would pray. And my prayer was, ‘Sana the coach will not pick me to play.’ Otherwise, I will look like a fool.”

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Eventually, though, the coach did snap him up. When he stepped into the court, he caught the eye of his team’s point guard, looking for someone to pass the ball to.

“I looked the other way!” Chan said, laughing.

He tells the tale energetically. Throughout our two-hour long Zoom interview, he even obligingly belts out many of his famous songs for the appreciative Summit editors. But even with his sprightly disposition, the legendary composer of hits like “Please Be Careful With My Heart” knows he needs to start being careful with his health.

“I try to minimize my intake [of food] now. You know, I’m older, and at my age, my doctors tell me to take care of the cholesterol.”

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PHOTO: (Right) Gretchen Ho/Facebook
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