Yes! Looking Back…. Part 3

Yes! Looking Back…. Part 3


Part 3 Bato, Buhangin [Rock, Sand]

In the singing-contest circuit, there are those who are referred to as bato [rock], and those dubbed buhangin [sand]. The bato are the rocksteady veterans, while the buhangin are the newbies and the youngsters. Charice, being a powerful voice in a small package, came to be known as the buhanging nakakapuwing [sand that gets into your eye]. “Ayan na ang buhangin,” [“Here comes the sand,”] the veterans would say when they saw the little girl from Cabuyao.

“Even the older ones, she beats,” says Raquel.

[click the magazine cover page to start turning the pages]

charice YES magazine cover Yes! Looking Back…. Part 3

That was especially true when Charice pulled out the stops on the Dulce classic. “Ako ang Nasawi, Ako ang Nagwagi.” [“I was Defeated, I Triumphed”] . The song, a favorite among singing contestants because of its theatrical quality, almost always assured Charice of a slot in the winner’s circle. When performing the showstopper, she capped her knockout vocals and choreography with a juggling of her microphone at the song’s key moments.

“At singing contests, there are 3 rounds,” Charice explains. “We finish all songs. But whatever happens, that particular song, I always sing it last.”

She breaks into song – “Ako ang nagwagi. /Kailanman di maari pang masawi. /Sinong magsasabing ito ay mali?/ Kahit alaala ka bawat sandali” [I am the one that triumphed. / I couldn’t ever be defeated / Who can say that this is wrong? / Even if you’re a memory in each and every moment.] – and then proceeds to show us how she throws the microphone into the air and then catches it.

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With Charice becoming a regular presence in the singing-contest circuit, talent scouts began to take notice. They would text Raquel about the schedules of coming competitions. Mother and daughter would then make the trip to wherever the contest was to be held. Sometimes, they would join a group of other contestants from the same town, who chipped in for a rented vehicle. There were times when the Pempengcos didn’t have enough fare money. Raquel would then borrow from friends and hope that Charice would win, so they could at least afford the trip back home.

Charice recalls one such instance: “Mommy said, ‘Try to do your best ok? Because if we lose, we won’t be able to go home. We don’t have money for transportation fare.’ I said, ‘Game!’ I became more nervous, but all the more that I gave my best. The problem was, the other contestants were protesting against me. They were questioning why I was included in the children’s category of the contest, when my voice is so big. They said that I should be in the category for older folks. They were saying that I was already fourteen, but in reality, I was just ten years old then.”

To appease the protesters, the organizers took Charice out of the children’s division and placed her in the adult division.

“I just said, whatever, I’ll deal with it.” Charice continues. “I still joined, but we didn’t expect anything anymore. But, I actually was the winner.” She brought home P8,000 that day and was able to pay back the P1,000 they had borrowed.

But luck wasn’t always on their side.

Raquel recounts her daughter’s first taste of losing: “It was in Malabaguio, a place near where we lived. She lost there a couple of times. Her opponents were bigger than her. She said, ‘Mommy, I was really good, but why did I lose?’ ‘No, Ming, it is a gamble. Not all the time, you will win.’ She was crying then. She really felt bad.”

That was when Charice was seven, on her first year of joining singing competitions. There was also a time when Charice lost a contest in Batangas, and she and her mother had no money for the bus fare to go home.

“So what we did was that we asked if we could stay at the house of some folks we did not really know.” Charice says, picking up the story. Fortunately, the Pempengcos have often been able to depend on the kindness of strangers and good Samaritans. “If we chance upon nice, decent people, they let us stay with them. Then, the very next morning, we would look for a new singing contest where I could join.” In this particular incident in Batangas, it was a good thing there was a singing contest nearby the next day. “I won and we were able to go home.”

Charice is reminded of another singing contest in Binan, where she was nine years old.

“There were seventy-five contestants. I was number 10. Of course, I didn’t expect anything anymore since I doubted that I would get noticed among the many contestants. We were actually about to ride the jeep when they called the third and second place winners. They were all good. I said, ‘Ah, there’s really no chance.’ So we proceeded to ride the jeep. When we boarded, it was announced: ‘Number 10! Charice!’ We got off the jeep. I won! What I won there was P15,000. We almost tripped as we hurriedly ran back.”

When there were two contests on the same night, it was never a question of which contest to join but how to make it to both. Like the time Charice had to be in the town proper of Siniloan and in Barangay Pulo, Cabuyao – a half-hour’s drive away from each other – in one night. Charice and mom showed up very early in Pulo and picked a number for her slot, and were then driven to Siniloan by their neighbor (who’s now the family driver).

“So I sang in Pulo, then we hurriedly went to Siniloan, then went back to Pulo.” Charice tells us animatedly. She won third prize in Pulo, and first in Siniloan. On another occasion, she joined two contests in Batangas. “I won in one, but then got disqualified on the other because I arrived late.”

Eventually, the kid learned how to manage the highs and lows of singing competitions. She had performances where there was close to no applause, and performances where viewers shouted and screamed at the top of their lungs. She also had her brushes with sore losers firsthand. Fistfights were not an extraordinary occurrence.

“There were times when you’ll sing and there’ll be some people who despise you a lot and would then do despicable things, like unplugging the microphone, or they would bribe the DJ to mess your song up.”

Whatever negative writeups or unpleasant rumors come her way these days, Charice says, they are no match for what she went through in the past.

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But no matter how disheartening the results could sometimes be, the contests were always the one source of income they could depend on. Joining a contest was the first solution Charice thought of after she saw her mom devastated when their house was once robbed.

“What they left were just small change.” Charice recalls.

More importantly, the singing competitions–she estimates that she joined around 80 of these–taught the kid a lesson that would serve her well later in her life; she needed to work for the things she wanted.

“When she really wants something, it’s good that she’s able to get it,” Raquel says. “There are times that she’s not in a good mood. There are times that she doesn’t feel well. When it’s like that, I ask her, ‘Should we go home now?’ ‘No Mommy, we’re already here.’ That’s what I like about her. She says she wants to help. That’s why sometimes, when she has fever, she still goes on. She doesn’t complain about it. She’ll just say, ‘Mommy, just make me take medicine.’ She’s like that. After the contest and she’d gotten what she’s wanted by winning, then she’ll sleep.”

“It actually makes me cry because she shouldn’t really experience staying up late and then having to go to school the very next day. Sometimes even if she only gets two or three hours of sleep, she would still go to school. That’s why her teachers know right away when she’s just come from a singing contest. Her teacher would say to her, ‘Charice, next time, don’t go to school anymore.’ Her teachers in elementary school were so supportive. She in turn, returns her teacher’s kindness by giving them treats. She would ask me, ‘Mommy, please cook spaghetti and bring it to school, ok?’”

Next week, Part 4: NEXT STOP: TV
Note: the captions in English were added in the photos!

Mouseover to read : Yes! Looking Back… Part 1

Mouseover to read : Yes! Looking Back… Part 2

Much thanks and gratitude to:
CTV Crew – translated by JaYrOx, edited by Appin, photos scanned by Bbelj
Posted by Ladies´Team CM: AF, Capofret, DrTP, Eve, Schoen

14 Responses to “Yes! Looking Back…. Part 3”

  1. luvkcha09 says:
    Fast forward to June 10, 2010. Charice is all over the news in USA and Canada. She is going through a dizzying schedule of appearances and performances that even armchair fans (those who stay home and follow her on youtube and charicemania website LOL) can’t keep up with.

    I come back to this article and I can understand where her training came from. Late nights, early mornings etc. Her talent was honed by all those contests and juggling schedules and dealing with critics. She has been through all that experience and it toughened her. The amazing thing is she has come out unscathed by the experience and has strengthened her and made her more compassionate and grateful for all that she is achieving right now!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. schoen says:

    I had to go back here and read this article again and it´s really a heartbreaking story. What a kid! All these things she had to go through.

    OK you asked for it! Check the Forum (above besides CONTACT) or this link: and go to OFF-TOPIC. Behind The Scenes Japan Article, I had to start on the short and easy one first. I was literally ROFL just typing it (copy and paste). True CM story!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. Mamie says:

    Godbless you and your good heart!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. idolming says:

    CM you are the best-ever!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. Capofret says:

    haha joy co, thats a good idea..we can use the FORUM for that. we can talk about those hilarious CM’s always funny. we may sound serious here but we are always laughing especially for this YES mag project. but we still get the job done anyway.

    i still doubt for schoen’s public appearance. wish us luck! lol

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Vee127 says:
    Thanks for the very detailed report ESP on her ups n downs in singing contests. I only joined one in my life of 3 decades n lost; tWas for charity, but I’d never forget that experience. I met veteran contestants n they seemed not to budge when making their turn – really made a career out of it. No wonder charice is that tough n level-headed. Singing contests r like boxing in sports. U do it alone on stage n u give it ur all. No fear! Go for it n bet on ur guts n abilities. But b very prepared – mentally, physically n emotionally. Do it with grace n integrity n for the love of it, viewers plus the noble intention for one’s family. What a belter n a golden cup bearer! Not to mention a sennheiser holder :).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  7. eve says:
    Good luck Joyco in enticing Schoen to make a public appearance haha. Team CM does not even know what she looks like… only that she is our resident German crab haha!! But we love her and couldn’t do without her. She is the energy behind this monster YES project, pulling all the team together to do our parts. It’s like 25 pages long or something and a bazillion pictures but somehow managed to break it down into palatable and readable parts that we can digest more easily. No apologies are necessary, Capofret, for delays as there is more than enough stories about our Charice to keep us going in the meantime. And when the next installment pops up of YES! the timing is just perfect. I really am enjoying reading it in installments.

    For the international readers (non-Filipinos), Capofret also explained to me the prevalence of singing contests in the Philippines that allowed Charice to support her family this way because this would never be possible in the USA. But in Philippines where singing is truly the national pastime, there is a singing contest going on at almost any time that Charice would and could enter, even on the same night! Amazing, just amazing. And at 9 years old to win a contest prize of P15,000 (approx. US $300) is earning more than the average monthly salary for Filipinos. No wonder she joined as many contests as she could. It was indeed a good way to earn a living. And it taught her some good lessons and trained her to be the person that she is today.

    As Liz Rosenberg said in last night’s interview, Charice is a strong girl in no small part because of these experiences, I’m sure. If she can handle the jealousies and occasional fistfights (surprise, wow), she’s ready to handle anything that comes her way whether it be more fame or heartache along the way. I’m guessing it’ll be FAME.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

  8. Jessica86s says:
    I would just like to thank the people in CM especially those behind the editorials and monitors incharge of the articles posted on this site. You people are real “Heroes” behind Charice’s journey and success. I believe not too many people realize what a tedious and sometimes stressful job or task it is to be on your toes to monitor and manage all these data and activities of a very busy, active and soaring superstar like Charice. The kind of brain energy and nervous tensions you people are often brought to to make sure all these information are managed poperly and disseminated to the public in a direction that best serves the promotional interests of Charice. It takes quite a lot of discipline and creativity also to be able to maintain the interest, motivation, love and loyalty of the chasters, and encourage or win over new fans by developing this site for that purpose. And it is only with genuine love for Charice that you are able to find excitement and humor in this otherwise stressful job. LOL. More power to you people, I really admire you too. LABYO all!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 0

  9. Schoen says:
    Yes we do love this magazine Manang and Marjs5. What people don´t know is how we had fun doing this (actually way too much!) It doesn´t look so complicated but it was hilarious behind the scenes! Thanks for posting Capo. So 3 down, 2 more to go CM Ladies! All for our love to Charice!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

    • Joy Co says:
      It just occured to me Schoen, I think it will be nice to put up an additional “column” for Charicemania’s behind-the-scene editorial stuff. It’s a way of getting to know each one of the e-staff, and heartache and the glory and so on, lol …. all but just for fun. Charice is our princess, and the heroes behind it are DF,OPRAH, EDG, Falsevoice, Chasters and of course CHARICEMANIA!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

  10. MarjzV says:
    I cried many times reading this story of Charice….And i will cry again and again, i don’t care even if my eyes get Swell again. I love reading it.. i Love You Charice….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  11. Manang says:
    I have been enjoying following this series…Some of the bits and pieces I already picked up from previous articles or even yt clips, but it is nice to know more of the details. It just reaffirms my love and support for Charice…I feel like embracing her to protect her from further assault. However, she has developed into a very strong yet kind-hearted soul…Yes it is true, she has become like a pyramid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 0

  12. Capofret says:

    we apologize again for the delay in posting. but we promise to post every week and finish this. 2 more parts to go.

    thanks so much for reading!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0


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