From Manila streets to world stage: Arnel Pineda and his fairytale-like journey

7 February 2010 at 12:03 am 1 comment

By Omar Jaru
YouTube Review

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.

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Entry filed under: Entertainment, Music, Video. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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  • […] youtubereview2008 added an interesting post today on From Manila streets to world stage: Arnel Pineda and his fairytale-like journeyHere’s a small readingFrom Manila streets to world stage: Arnel Pineda and his fairytale-like journey Omar Jaru, YouTube Review 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 find… Read the full post from philippines « WordPress.com Tag Feed via Blogdigger blog search for History of the Guitar. […]

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