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Luis Borromeo

In the early 1900s, a local variation of the West’s vaudeville was a popular form of entertainment in the Philippines. Called “bodabil,” it was a combination of musical numbers, drama skits and comedy acts. Reportedly having had its peak between 1941 to 1945, the “bodabil” ran side by side with the widespread acceptance of jazz in the country.

A Cebuano pianist and entertainer named Luis Borromeo – known as “Borromeo Lou” – is credited to have greatly contributed to both popular trends in the country. The 2004-published “Pinoy Jazz Traditions” notes that Borromeo, in the 1920s, integrated elements of “American-style stage entertainment” and “classic-and-jazz music” in performing at live theaters in Manila. This came after his stints in North America.

At the peak of his career, Borromeo Lou had the moniker as the “King of Jazz” in the Philippines– a distinction which he shared with Bulacan-born Katy de la Cruz, the hailed “Queen of Filipino Jazz” and “Queen of Bodabil.”

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