The Filipino Singer as Entertainer

I have been around Asia and one thing I usually notice when there are bands playing in hotels is that the bands, more often than not, are Filipino. Filipinos are just naturally talented, generally. I remember when we were out on a business trip before in KL (this was in the early 1990s) and our hosts brought us to a karaoke bar. Most of the Malaysians took their turn at singing and when they finally asked us to sing, my officemate and I declined at first and said that we didn't know how to sing. Our hosts then responded by saying: "Of course you know how to sing. You are a Filipino."

Well, when I went to Jeju Island, I had the chance to listen to a couple sing and play the piano/keyboard at the Pokpo Lobby Lounge at the hotel where I was staying. The couple looked and sounded Pinoy but of course, I was not sure.

During a break in their performance, the lady singer chanced upon me in one of the hotel's stores and said: "Filipino po kayo?" - with a smile that told me that she was so excited to see a Filipino in the hotel. Before you knew it, we were speaking in Tagalog in the middle of the store and I found out that the hotel gets mostly Japanese guests and hardly any Filipinos. It turns out that the lady's partner is her husband (they were newly-married) and they have been performing in Jeju for 5 years. They have learned the Korean language (ang galing talaga ng Filipino) and love Jeju because it is great for sightseeing and nature-tripping. They perform several sets a night with a few minutes break in between.

She was 27 years old and she found out I was 37 and so she started calling me "Ate," while telling me about E-Mart which she says was something like Shoemart. She had noticed I had a "New World Valley" shopping bag when I came in and that probably bolstered her thinking that I must be Pinoy. Realizing that it was almost time to perform again, she hurriedly said goodbye by saying: "Sige na, kapatid. Tutugtog na kami..."

Kapatid. Such a nice word to hear. Today, I read in the papers that the OFWs are expected to bring in USD 8 billion to the Philippines this year. They truly are an important cog in the economy. No opportunities domestically? We will find our opportunities elsewhere. So thank you OFWs, singers, entertainers or otherwise. You do more than entertain. You "tune up" our economy. Mabuhay kayo, kapatid.

» Jeju, South Korea - Index of Articles

[By Angelica Viloria | Friday, July 16, 2004]

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