Manny Pacquiao does the Internet. If you don’t do the Internet and you’re Filipino, young or old, green or gray, you’re missing out on the 2nd national treasure of the Philippines. She’s probably on the Internet right now.
When The Oprah Winfrey Show first guested her on 12 May 2008, after Charice wowed the audience, including the host herself, Oprah asked where her big voice was coming from, and she said her Mom Raquel taught her some techniques in singing. Mom had been a vocalist for a band. It came naturally that she would fine-tune her daughter’s musical ability. So the voice is either coming from the diaphragm, chest, or head. With practice, it would come out clear as a bell.
“Head voice” was the term Charice used. Now, I didn’t know that. What else don’t I know about music? I don’t know how to read notes. I play it by ear, so I can sing, but I don’t know how to keep in tune, or in time. Well, having been listening to her and reading more and more about her in the Internet, I’m just happy to know Charice has music coming out of her ears. And all that jazz.
She doesn’t do false voice? Well, somebody else does, if only in name: FalseVoice. And Charice owes the national and international entertainment worlds to him, who is Dave Dueñas in real life. The Latin for false voice is falsetto. Webster’s Online Dictionary says falsetto is synonymous with, among other things, dummy. I like dummy. Reminds me of some people who have had nothing nice to say about Charice.
I’d be a dummy if I didn’t tell you FalseVoice was no dummy when he uploaded to YouTube Charice singing “I Will Always Love You” in that late, lamented local contest called Little Big Star with a big prize: 1 million pesos – well, 1 million is 1 million. He is a music lover, and he probably watches YouTube like I’m at my desktop PC the whole day and sometimes the whole night. In his interview – where I got many a piece of information about FalseVoice in relation to Charice – with Phil Bolsta (“Charice – My Interview With FalseVoice,” bolstablog.wordpress.com), he said when he was relatively new at YouTube, he noticed that YouTube’s “Most Viewed” section was the 28 June 2006 audition for America’s Got Talent by Bianca Ryan who sang “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” by Jennifer Holliday (YouTube.com). In that video, David Hasselhoff was one of the judges, and he told Bianca after her singing, “You’ve got class.” She did. In fact, Bianca eventually was declared winner of the contest on 17 August 2006.
Given that, Pinoy FalseVoice just felt in his guts that a young Filipina singer was not only class; she was first class: Charmaine Clarice “Charice” Relucio Pempengco of Cabuyao, Laguna. He would upload her video singing “I Will Always Love You,” that which she performed in Little Big Star, the ABS-CBN TV singing talent search. With that video post, Charice didn’t rise to Internet stardom, as FalseVoice would have wanted. This Pinay’s got talent, but that’s not a guarantee for being noticed, being successful, especially being internationally successful, and especially being an international singing sensation. Even with talent, you have to try harder. Sometimes you even have to blow your own horn.
A minor disappointment. If you don’t mind the mixed metaphor, FalseVoice had to cultivate his Charice video with his time, money and effort. Eventually, that video got noticed. Just a little bit. Not yet a Wow. Then he posted “Face Off: Bianca vs Charice,” with Bianca singing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” and Charice singing “I Will Always Love You.” Amgirl versus Pinay, city mouse vs town mouse. That was an instant winner; it generated more than 1 million hits. Then his YouTube channel was deleted 4 January 2008. Mama mia! Then he set up a second YouTube channel, featuring Charice again. That generated 2 million hits. Wow! And then that channel too was deleted. Mama mia! Then he set up a third YouTube channel, featuring Charice, who else? That has so far generated 2.5 million hits. That’s a Wow! “Because of FalseVoice,” Charice says, “I gained back my confidence in singing.” I’m glad some people don’t know when to stop even when they’re losing. If you cannot undelete, you start all over again. I’m glad FalseVoice didn’t lose his confidence in himself. I’m glad he was marching to the beat of his own drum.
In that interview, FalseVoice tells Phil Bolsta:
I believed in her talent. After her stint in Little Big Star, she was suddenly left out and gone. That kind of talent is rare and should not be forgotten. Also, I wanted people all over the world to know that we exist and that we have great talents in our country.
Coming from a Filipino, that’s a Wow! In Little Big Star, she came in only 2nd runner-up. That’s worth another Wow: The biggest television network in the Philippines, ABS-CBN didn’t see the biggest fish in its biggest pond! This is the biggest one that got away. I can assure you this fish was no dummy!
Then, Ten Songs Productions, a music publishing company in Sweden, happened to watch FalseVoice’s Face Off, were thunderstruck, and they contacted Charice, flew her to Stockholm to record 7 songs for demos. Demos. They would be looking for a record label to launch Charice into international stardom? Sorry, but they were caught sleeping for 4 months. They didn’t call the tunes.
Nobody but they knew that. While waiting for Ten Songs, Charice and Mom Raquel went to Quiapo Church to pray their heart out. Meanwhile, FalseVoice uploaded Charice wearing what looked like pajamas singing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” 4 months after Quiapo, while the Ten Songs people were counting sheep instead of songs, Charice’s pajama song became a smash hit at the popular UCC, Korea’s YouTube, and the Koreans invited Charice to perform on Star King, a big talent show, 13 October 2007. She sang again “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” and went to performing heaven while the young ones at Star King went wild.
The wild, wild youth in that Star King episode caught the eye of Ellen DeGeneres, and she personally called and invited Charice to her show, a million miles away, and she went, sang, and made Ellen cry; and she touched the audience so much they gave her a standing ovation. She was touched; she cried. That was her first standing ovation ever in her young career. This was New York, baby.
Then Oprah guested her on her own show, and Charice made Oprah cry out loud, “That was fantastic! Wow, wow, wow!” and so on and so forth. The most talented girl in the world with a show was congratulating the most talented girl in the world with a voice. It was a match made in heaven.
From Chicago, Charice flew directly to London as guest in The Paul O’Grady Show, and she received the first standing ovation in that show’s history. Paul said, “That was brilliant.” In fact, that was fantastic.
She guested in Oprah’s show again later on 09 September 2008 and Oprah made one of her dreams come true: Celine Dion, one of her idols, called from Washington via satellite and video and personally invited Charice to sing a duet with her at Madison Square Garden. Again, the Big Apple, baby. Oprah had earlier made a dream come true for her: a duet with Andrea Bocelli in his hometown of Tuscany, Italy. Dreams come true if you’ve got talent, if you wish hard enough, if you don’t give up, if you keep yourself fit as a fiddle.
The Philippines” got talent, even if many Filipinos don’t know it, or refuse to acknowledge it. Judge for yourself. If you want the face-off, click here: “Bianca Ryan vs Charice Pempengco on Ellen DeGeneres Show,” both as Ellen’s guests, with Bianca singing 0n 24 September 2006 and Charice singing 20 December 2007 the exact same song, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” (YouTube.com). That video now has 3,530,720 views, uploaded by Rnulfo. Be careful now: if you don’t have the goose bumps, you’ll cry. Unless you’re a dummy.
“That chills!” Ellen says in her show after watching a replay of Charice singing her second song in the previous day’s episode, “I Will Always Love You.” That thrills!
And you know the rest of the story: Charice went on to guest on Oprah, with David Foster as friend. “You were smitten,” said David to Oprah. She was. Now David is her mentor and Oprah is her fairy godmother and much of the listening world is at her feet – I mean both Charice and Oprah. We owe Oprah what has become of Charice, after Oprah recognized that she was The Most Talented Girl in the World and waved her magic wand to make Charice’s dreams come true in a big way. With Oprah, you can have 3 big wishes, and 4 will come true. You will not be wishing in the dark.
And the unlucky, hibernating Ten Songs? They have turned out to be lucky after all. They have 7 songs that now belong to history. A treasure from the Internet, courtesy of Charice from the Philippines. You’ve got talent, Ten Songs!
I have written about Charice myself; note my dedicated blog, “Pinoy Cinderella,” blogspot.com). And why do I call her Cinderella? Read my blog! I hope it strikes a chord in you.
So, what does that all mean: That Charice was made famous by the Internet? Yes. But that would not have happened without the big help of FalseVoice. And without her big talent. And without the big, powerful voice of Oprah.
And you know what? The Internet continues to follow Charice wherever she goes. Literally. In an interview with Boy Abunda at The Buzz (‘True Confessions’), she says her contract has a rider in the States that whoever gets her to perform must provide her 3 things: Internet, fruits, water. “Charice has a rider already,” Boy Abunda says. “I’m happy with that,” she says. She’s a loner; she does the Internet to keep her in touch with the world out there. Fruits for energy. (I remember a family friend of ours, Papa Buddy Lacuna, a pilot, who told us that for pilots, for breakfast they take fruit juice, to keep them alert.) She tells Boy Abunda in another interview that she drinks lots of water, never cold, to keep her voice. She does the Internet to keep her company.
Charice has the voice that not only her mother could love at first note, when she was 4 years old. Her auntie was agog herself, and she was the other vocalist in the band. Charice has the voice that people in countries other than the Philippines learned to love much through the Internet before we Filipinos ever did. Either we don’t give much credit to the Internet, or we don’t give much credit to our fellow Filipinos, or both. Folks, you can’t beat the Internet; come on in, the water’s fine!
In The Buzz interview, Boy Abunda asks Charice what she now wants to say to those who had thrown at her face the insult that she wasn’t pretty and the affront that her career wasn’t going anywhere because she didn’t have talent. Charice says, kindly, “Hello po,” and smiles. Music to my ears. Hello Ma’am, Hello Sir. You see her smiles all over the Internet these days. Music hath charm that soothes the savage breast. Does that ring a bell?
In the photo above, which I cropped from the poster for her first Philippine solo concert the past 27 June this year, at the top you will find these words:
Smart and HP present …
She’s a Smart girl, on and off the Internet. HP should know; I know she has a Macbook and a Mac desktop. (Smart has the wireless Internet I love; HP has the laptop I have.) She keeps in touch with the world. With her brother Carl’s and her mother’s love and their faith in God, Charice has been as wildly successful as her detractors have been wildly wrong about her. To educate themselves, those vulgarians should do the Internet more. Or have a jam session, face the music and change their tune.
In the meantime, I want to tell them: You can’t stop the music. Be music to somebody’s ears instead. If you can’t beat her, join her!
by Frank A. Hilario, American Chronicle
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