By Omar Jaru
In a lottery called life, fate sometimes, is very kind.
No. It’s not only about being a cover band singer waking up one day fronting a legendary rock band. It’s more of being a homeless kid living in the inhospitable and dark streets of Manila and waking up one day finding that the warm and well-lighted world stage is now his home.
Arnel Pineda’s story has been celebrated by the international media as a cyber-age Cinderella story. But unlike Cinderella, Arnel’s asset to stardom is his talent. But like Cinderella, he also has to fit in something: the voice left void by Journey’s most popular vocalist—Steve Perry, to forever alter his future.
Like in any fairytale story, Arnel had to suffer first to set the stage for his eventual redemption. As a kid, he had to endure painfully trying to live in the filthy and mean streets of Manila in an almost endless cycle of surviving and near-surviving.
Before that, he had to lose his mother to a lingering disease that did not only drain her body but also whatever savings they had. He had to stop attending school. He had to live in the streets.
Fast forward, years later, in the smoke-filled room in music bars in Hongkong, Arnel would sooth tired souls with his beautiful voice singing ballad and blues, rock and reggae. Consumed by his own loneliness and alienation, he went into drugs and all those stuff that band members most often fall into. In the process, he lost his voice—that precious voice honed for him by his mother. (In another fairytale story, Arielle–the Little Mermaid– also lost her voice.)
Fast rewind in Manila, years ago, whenever Barbra Streisand or Karen Carpenter’s voice would play through their transistor radio, his mother would call the young Arnel and they would sing together, sowing the seed in Arnel the talent that he would use years later to survive.
Back in Hongkong, his doctor said he could never sing again. Broken, he went back to Manila and later to his senses. He started all over again.
He found again his voice. Restarted singing in Manila bars. Recorded a forgettable album. Meanwhile, a friend who did not stop believing in him, kept posting Arnel’s videos on YouTube. Until one day, he got a phone call from guitar god Neil Schon of the legendary rock band Journey—the Prince in this fairytale story—and offered him a job he could not even dream of.
The rest is rock and roll history, and the denouement in Arnel’s fairytale story.
Journey is currently in Manila for a March 14 “homecoming” concert. Expectedly, Arnel is being given the much-deserved media attention and publicity. His countrymen and women are pouring their genuine support and admiration to Arnel for what he has become.
Meantime, in the dark, filthy and dangerous alleys of Manila, street kids continue trying to live the everyday cycle of surviving and near-surviving.
Let’s just wish that in next turning of the wheel, fate would also be kinder to them.
The Mindoro Post
MANILA, Philippines–“Wow!” “You’re unbelievable… unbelievable.”
Emmy-award winning talk show host Ellen DeGeneres was in awe as studio audience sprang to their feet following a powerful performance of 12-year-old Rhap Salazar on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“Your voice is incredible,” DeGeneres told Salazar, the singing sensation from the southern Pinamalayan town of Oriental Mindoro in the Philippines. “So much power and emotion. We can feel everything.”
Salazar’s live performance on the syndicated talk show on November 17 was his debut on US television. His voice seems seamless even as he hits the high notes in his rendition of Celine Dion’s “All By Myself.”
The Star Magic talent was chanced upon by Ellen DeGeneres on YouTube, exactly how she found the now world-famous Charice Pempengco. Aside from Salazar and Pempengco, Filipino singers Arnel Pineda of Journey, and Rin on the Rox guested on DeGeneres’ show.
Just recently, Salazar also wowed his international audience when he bagged two titles—Junior Grand Champion Solo Vocalist of the World and Junior Grand Champion Performer of the World—in the prestigious World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA).
Salazar, who got the 2005 Brightest Star award in the ABS-CBN’s “Little Big Star” singing competition, began belting out tunes when he was three years old. Then at seven, he was already joining music contests.
Today, the child singing sensation has his self-titled album already out in the market.
During a brief interview after his song number on DeGeneres’ program, Salazar told the visibly moved host: “I’ll never forget this.” To which DeGeneres, who replaced Paula Abdul as a judge of the ninth season of American Idol, responded: “I’ll never forget it either.”
So after The Ellen DeGeneres Show, will Oprah be next?
Read more news about Mindoro on The Mindoro Post
ROUND 11 (quality not good)
ROUND 12 (no sound)
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by Omar Jaru, Youtube Review
Journey with its new Filipino lead singer Arnel Pineda guested in Oprah on October 5, 2009. YouTube videos by MrJclee7.
8:51 The body of Corazon Aquino, the first woman president of the Philippines and regarded by the world as “Icon of Democracy”, is finally laid to rest. Farewell, our beloved Tita Cory.
8:46 Cemetery workers put finishing touches in the sealed tomb of Cory Aquino as the bereaved family and friends look on. Religious hymns fill the air.
8:30 Timor Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta breaks diplomatic protocol and joins the entire Filipino nation in sending former president Corazon Aquino to her final rest. The Aquino family politely declined the Philippine government offer for a state funeral.
8:28 One by one, members of the family, friends offer flowers as “Bayan Ko” is sung.
8:23 As the casket is being placed inside the crypt, the solemn mood is broken when the emotional crowd burst into applause. Chants of “Cory, Cory, Cory” fill the air.
8:13 Bishop Socrates Villegas performs the last religious rites before the coffin of Cory Aquino is put and sealed in a crypt beside the tomb of her assasinated husband, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
7:50 After about nine hours, the funeral march finally ended. At the air.e Manila Memorial Park — where the body of former president Corazon Aquino will be laid to rest — members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines rendered arrival honors and gave a 21-gun salute to the late commander in chief.
1:31 Even a heavy downpour can never make the people patiently waiting along the streets to leave.
1:00 The funeral procession continues and is now currently traversing the Quirino Highway. People in their thousands line up the streets, many clad in yellow shirt and carrying farewell placards, to bid farewell and express their gratitude to former president Corazon Aquino.
11:55 The funeral march continues where a big truck covered with yellow and white flowers carries the body of former Cory Aquino. The remains of the world-renowned democracy icon will be brought to the Manila Memorial Park where she will be laid to rest. Thousands, mostly clad in yellow shirts, line up the streets waiting for the cortege to pass through to have a final glimpse of the former leader. Yellow confettis continue to shower from the sky.
11:24 At the cathedral, pop singers Martin Nievera and Pop Fernandez belt out The Prayer.
11:19 Philippine security forces render military honors to their former commander-in-chief just outside the cathedral. Yellow confettis rain from above.
11:14 Honor guards now carry the casket of former president Corazon Aquino as her body leaves Manila Cathedral in the historic Walled City of Manila. Mourners at the cathedral erupt into applause as her coffin draped with the Philippine flag.
11:10 State dignitaries present at the requiem mass are former president Fidel Valdez Ramos, former president Joseph Estrada, former vice president Teofisto Guingona, Vice President Noli de Castro. Members of the diplomatic corps who hear the mass include US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney.
11:00 World-renowned singer and theater actress Lea Salonga sings “Bayan ko,” a patriotic song solemnly sang by millions of Filipinos when they turned up in the streets in 1986 to end the 20-year martial rule of dictator Ferdinand Marcos and put to power the reluctant housewife of Ninoy Aquino. Earlier, Star in a Million winner Erik Santos sang the Lord’s Prayer. Veteran singer Dulce and matinee idol Piolo Pascual rendered religous hymns during the farewell mass for Cory Aquino.
10:48 Shortly before the requiem mass ends, Kris Aquino, the celebrity daughter of Cory, expresses her gratitude on behalf of the whole family to the entire Filipino nation for joining them during their most difficult time. In tears, she remembers her mother trying to conceal the pain as she bravely fought colon cancer.
“Mom never allowed us to her vulnerable. Because she knew it was from her that we got our strenght.”
10:28 am Family, friends, state officials and members of the diplomatic corps gather at the Manila Cathedral in the Walled City of Manila to hear the requiem mass for former president Corazon Aquino.
This as hundreds of thousands men, women and children brave the rain, lining along the streets and patiently waiting for the funeral march in a bid to have a final glimpse of the woman regarded by the world as Icon of Democracy.
Across the country, millions are tuned in to their television sets and radios and surfing the internet as the media give a blow by blow account of the final rites for Aquino, who died last Saturday after a year and four month battle against colon cancer.