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The overkill of Pinoy singing exports

( Last of two parts )

pinedaTHE story of Arnel Pineda (pre-YouTube years) is typical of rock musicians who are in a band for economic rather than artistic reasons. Playing originals doesn’t put food on the table, while doing certified Bon Jovi monstrosities can at least land you a contract in Japan.

This is understandable, especially in the case of Pineda, who spent two years of his childhood out on the streets of Manila collecting empty bottles and metal scrap, and discovered his voice as his only way out of this poverty. Thanks to his mother who taught him Barbara Streisand songs when he was a little boy. (I’m not kidding.)

Of course, we can always say Pineda also wrote original materials and recorded these either solo or with his bands, but we were too busy digging Eraserheads to care.

If you are familiar with Cebu’s rock scene in the 80s, you would know we had a lot of Arnel Pinedas in the old Club 99 along Colon St. back then. Remember Iron Smoke? That was a typical Arnel Pineda band you got there – extremely talented musicians who were butchers, ironsmiths or watch repairmen by day and “rock stars” by night. And like all of them, they measured each other’s success not by the number of original hits they churned out but by how faithfully they covered Nazareth’s Love Hurts.

But while Cebu’s rock musicians quickly became too stoned to wait for YouTube’s arrival, Arnel Pineda and his band mates stayed sober enough to make it to the next century, even donning silly skeleton outfits and calling themselves The Rolling Bones just so they could play in a theme club in Hong Kong in 1991.

The break came 16 years later. Like an aging foreigner surfing the Internet for an exotic wife, an American band called Journey picked Pineda and arranged a date. And the rest is classic mail-order bride history. If you don’t know Journey, it’s one of those arena bands in the 80s whose vocalists sang like eunuchs on the loose.

Arnel and Journey deserve each other, if only because they share the same habit of not keeping a band intact. Arnel jumps from one band to another, ten in all, like he is island hopping, while Journey keeps changing members like underwear. At the last count, 19 musicians have had stints with Journey since the band was formed in 1973, including American Idol judge Randy Jackson (bass, backing vocals, 1985-1987). Arnel is the band’s sixth vocalist. You may start the countdown now for Arnel’s replacement.

So, what’s wrong with Charice and Arnel? Nothing. They are simply two of the many talented Filipinos who use their five-octave voice to escape poverty, and who better come out with original hits now because there’s so much “Open Arms” and “I Will Always Love You” on TV already that dogs start yapping upon hearing the songs’ intro.

What’s wrong with those American talk shows? Nothing. They are simply being American, benevolently reaching out to a global audience by pulling out talents from the world’s continents and showcasing it live, so that the American crowd goes, “Amazing, and we thought they still live in trees.”

What’s wrong with the local entertainment media? Nothing. They are simply being Filipino. First, they snub genuine talents who don’t have the looks. Second, they feign surprise upon learning that the talents they ignored made it abroad. Third, they say “oops” and make up for the mistake by featuring the talents on prime time news. Fourth, they go for the overkill by giving the talents round-the-clock exposure. Fifth, they go back to their old ways, until the next Filipino appears on Oprah.

( SUN.STAR, JANUARY 6, 2008 )

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24 Responses to “The overkill of Pinoy singing exports”

  1. I am a long time JOURNEY fan but did loose interest when Perry left the band. The other guys just didn’t have the soul that Perry has. Until now. Arnel is a great singer. he has the soul and the talent. I just recently decided to give the guy a chance and am glad I did. You sound crass and like some bitter old man complaining that his usual coffee isn’t in his favorite cup. Who cares if Arnel learned Babs songs. and what? because Neal Schon is up there in years it means he can’t surf the net? is the net only for young hipsters?…I understand blog’n is the new wave of bitch talk that people use to hide behind their keyboard and spout off nonsence but you have not thought before you typed. Journey is doing what they can to survive.You mean to tell me that if you lost your job at starbucks tomorrow that you wouldn’t try and get a job at java joes? c-mon! I am glad to see Arnel in the front spot for Journey. I also don’t really hope you loose your job at starbucks.

  2. hi, how come wala ko kita ani sa sunstar.com.ph? (but read it on the newspaper anyway)

    ei, someone reacted violently sa imu article, hahaha, nagkatawa ko. i wanna reply to that person, dunno how. maybe ako sad buhaton iya gibuhat, pero maulaw ko. wahehehe

  3. ngilngiga oi! 😛
    ..hehehehe…

  4. i think my uncle played drums for iron smoke before.

  5. Ok I am 22 years old and my parents have raised me to listen to music from bands such as Journey (and Barb., etc.)… I grew up listening to Journey songs during the years they were broken up. I still love Journey and I will always. No one can replace Steve Perry (like Arnel Pineda states). He is humble about his fame and he realizes that he can never replace a rock legend. In light of all of this, I am SO HAPPY that Journey and the music behind the band is back and alive. Arnel Pineda is a very talented artist and the band sounds AMAZING together with AP. I am just so happy to hear Journey songs again and I cant wait to buy the CD so I can hear the new Journey songs. The best part of all of this: a new generation can appreciate and learn to love the old and new Journey… you have to admit with all the disturbing music out there for my generation, Journey is a MAJOR sigh of relief… rather a huge breath of fresh air. So everyone stop hating. Embrace the old and the new.

  6. Mr. Niñal,
    Like you said, there is nothing wrong with Charice or Arnel. I agree.

    Now, you leave your readers hanging at the end of your article. Take your analysis a little further and you will realize that what is wrong is your thinking – it is being clouded by envy and bitterness.

    You have talent, but please don’t waste it on negativity. Be positive like the people you envy and perhaps, success will come your way.

  7. sure they can sing. sure their lives will improve, but that’s only two people. sure they will open doors for others but can singing be a permanent livelihood for let’s say, millions of Filipinos? what about those who were not popular? based on their life stories, they’re singing for economic reasons. they’re passionate about helping their families , to have better lives. i sure hope that after their struggles they will produce or make their own music.i know there are many Filipino entertainers abroad, i’ve met some of them. but fame is just fame. it only does good to a certain number of people.

    what i’m trying to say is, i hope Filipinos who are doing really well in other fields should be given more attention. i hope that we will become popular someday let’s say in the field of science and technology, engineering, arts and everything that will not be only beneficial to some but to most.

  8. karon pako anang club 99 dah!

    but in ampao country, ang city nga na abtan sa expiration date (my son coined this, hehehehe) , naa sad mi version sa local ground. mutukar ni sila sa mga pista-pista sa kapilya, the drummer was a trisikad driver and the singer was a fisherman. try asking john alcudia, soy, usa sa staff ninyo diha sa sunstar kay naa silay banda nga tig-apil pud. dus wer da deys!

  9. but please don’t waste it on negativity. –> Heard of “sarcasm” as a literary device? Duh.

  10. Dear Mr. Loel,

    but please don’t waste it on negativity. –> Heard of “sarcasm” as a literary device? Duh.

  11. well, it seems people are not getting the “humor” of the article. hehe.

  12. you get it right on the money bro! AMEN!

  13. @jekert.. mulang!

  14. basig, they just dont get our brand of bisdak humor.
    soooo seriousss man oi!
    makapad-pad sa ICU. Pit senyor, soy!

  15. salamat sa tanang nakig-ambit sa gasa sa katawa.

    mga tawong nanobra ka-seryoso sa kinabuhi, pamahawa mo diri and get a life! pak u!

  16. Nyahahaha Mao na matiguwang mo og sayo seryos ra kaau mo mga Manoy… hehehe

  17. sad but true….I terribly agree with ur article sir insoy, as usual, always entertaining….payter \m/

  18. ahahahahaha! yahooo!!!

  19. Ang ako ra pod dli ganahan about this whole thing is the local industry & other pinoy talents are all trying to get a piece of Charice & Arnel! duh, tagai sad unta nila og pahulay oy, they need their energy & voices for their main jobs abroad. maghulat sila oy!

    Mas arang-arang ni imong 2nd article oy. ana gyod na naa kay isuwat, naay pod moreact. o divah 😉

    P.S. para dili ko nimo apilon sa “pak u” I will tell you this, you are a good writer. Tinood. Let da sunshine in!

  20. tagay nalang ta oi! 🙂

  21. i don’t understand all the hype about people hating on your article. i mean, it’s just one person’s perspective, isn’t it? we are all entitled to our own opinions.

    btw, i especially agree with you on the last paragraph. it’s so fucking true.

  22. All I can say is that Arnel Pineda is a great singer. Feel free to check our site and get listed at Pinoy Music Talent, let’s all Support Local Talents and be recognized.

  23. Great writing. If you can generate debate from your writings then you did good. Writings that stirs the psyche allow for growth, individually and collectively. Even more, getting people to leave comments (this is my first) is the ultimate compliment. Who cares what other people say, right? But apparently, other people do. LOL. Keep on writing…

  24. Great writing. If you can generate debate from your writings then you did good. Writings that stir the psyche allows for growth, individually and collectively. Even more, getting people to leave comments (this is my first) is the ultimate compliment. Who cares what other people say, right? But apparently, other people do. LOL. Keep on writing…


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