When Polo Montañez wasn´t still famous, he was always following his father, who was a coalman, planting coal houses all around the bush whenever they found good wood to make charcoal. It was a transhumant time, hard, wild and happy in the fields of Pinar del Rio. In 1972 the pilgrimage of his family apparently stopped when they settled down in the community of Las Terrazas.
At that time, Fernando Borrego Linares, Polo´s real name, learned to do different things, all related to the countryside, like irrigating it with his sweat and he also had to get used to the fatigue on his bones as it came the end of a day that always seemed to have extra hours. He also milked cows, worked as tractor driver, a sugarcane cutter, among many other things which were never said, that only he remembered.
Amidst all this coming and going by these fields, his father Julio had music inside him, it was like something inevitable and necessary. As soon as he had a spare moment he went with a band named Cantores del Rosario to play at any party or serenade.
And his son went with him, and so he inherited the same taste of his father and learned to play first a drum made from the avocado tree trunk and leather from the belly of a cow; later he learned how to play the guitar and then he had the courage of singing. Eventually no one was surprised when he became the group’s leader.
Then it was when music took him under its wing and gave air for him to fly. But Fernando, though dazed, was still shy and this prevented him from showing the songs he started writing in 1973. "Este tiempo feliz " was the first one, and on it he spoke of the important things for him, his personal experiences, love, and friendship. These tracks would be played by Fernando throughout his subsequent career.
Fernando Borrego began performing with his band in the tourist facilities of Las Terrazas and there he definitely lost the name given to him at birth. The metamorphosis was complete when he met the owner of a record label, who after listening to him, proposed him to record some albums.
Polo Montañez was born at 44, and he always carried the essence of Fernando Borrego with him, and was not initially a prophet in his land, so he had to travel to Colombia. There, among vallenatos and cumbias, he managed to put his music and his simple way of saying his rural heritage through Cuban rhythms such as son, guaracha or canción.
His first album Guajiro Natural completely seduced Colombians, who bought 40,000 copies and enabled Polo to obtain gold and platinum albums, the third Cuban to achieve such a feat, and began his journey through the stages of Cuba and the world.
Anywhere Polo arrived he took possession of the hearts of the public, as they hadn´t seen in a long time so straightforward singer like him. People recognized and thank him. Without having studied music he gave his work an unmistakable seal and his compositions found a place in the musical universe of Cuban families without resistance. His song ¨Un monton de estrellas¨ was number one on various hit-parades and the Puerto Rican singer Gilberto Santa Rosa incorporated it into his repertoire. Then it came the album ¨Guitarra Mia¨ which included songs like Colombia, Hay un run run or La última canción, which were also hits among Cuban and foreign public.
In only three years, with just two albums, Polo Montañez revolutionized Cuban music scene and was able to enjoy the love of his followers. One day in November we could not find him with his guitar, trying dancing steps on stage. He, who didn´t know how to dance, died after being seriously injured in a car accident.
He almost had predicted his end on ¨La última canción¨ when he wrote: "The only future of my life should be, I think it must be weird, I do not think lucky will come to smile now after living so many years." At the time of the announcement, while all Cubans were reluctant to accept that inevitable fact, we all agree on something: Polo Montañez was gone too soon.
The filmmaker and TV director Delso Aquino and actress Yelisett Valdés are preparing a movie version that must talk about all this and more, whose script is under development. The scriptwriter Amilcar Salatti and producer Santiago Yapur from the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) also joined the project, which seeks to pay tribute to the memory of the singer.
An antecedent of this endeavor is the book about the life of Polo Montañez, by Fernando Díaz Martínez, based on long conversations with Polo´s family, friends and neighbors which was well received among Cuban and South American readers.
The film about Polo Montañez´s life is a proposal that spectators wait with great enthusiasm. It will be great to see how the filmmakers manage to show, with much skill and consistency, the life of Fernando Borrego Linares before becoming Polo Montañez and how he did not forget for even a second his peasant roots and modesty when he arrived to Cuban music to enrich it.