Awit, a Filipino Gift to the World !

Rommel Caguiat
Guest Writer

When I heard the news that Ellen DeGeneres the famous TV host-comedian discovered two young Filipinos from General Santos City, Aldrich Talonding (vocals) and James Walter Bucong (guitars), it seems that Filipinos have the potential of becoming the best in the music business.  Also through the show “Ellen,” discovered and brought other Filipino talents with the likes of Arnel Pineda,  lead vocalist of the band Journey, Charice Pempengco (dubbed by Oprah Winfrey as the most talented Girl in the World), Maria Aragon and Rhap Salazar.  Another Filipina who also made headlines of her performance in American Idol (Season 11) was Jessica Sanchez, who made famous for her outstanding performance by singing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and Jennifer Hudson’s “Love You I Do.”  She got the only standing ovation of the evening from the three judges (Randy Jackson, Steve Tyler and Jennifer Lopez).  When she was about to be voted out all three judges decided to save her from elimination stated that she has “potentials.” And can’t remember the Jasmine Trias, with a flower on her ear
(Courtesy of Ellen Show)

During the course of time Filipino singers were already made significant contributions to the world of music and made the Philippines a musical powerhouse.  As you remember as Asia’s Queen of Songs Pilita Corrales made her debut in the Australian scene and the first female artist to top the Australian pop music charts.  The original Pop Diva Kuh Ledesma encompasses more than 1,000 concerts all over the world and was the first Filipino recipient of the Salem Music Awards.  Regine Velasquez made an impact in the Asian scene and collaborated with top international artistis including Paul Anka, Stephen Bishop and Peobo Bryson.  Lea Salonga a Filipina lyric mezzo-soprano singer and actress who starred in the lead role of Kim in Miss Saigon and won the Olivier and the Tony Awards and she also provided vocal recording for the soundtrack of Disney’s Aladdin and Mulan.  In the MTV scene during the 90’s the Filipino rock band Eraserheads won the International Viewer’s Choice Awards for MTV Asia, and the newly talented Charice Pempengco who garnered most of the accolades including the Favorite Asian Act in Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards 2012. How about Jed Madela who is a gran slam winner in International Performing Art

A group of Filipino Soloist Connived for a very amazing rendition of 
"Just Give me a Reason"

Singing is part of Filipino's Life (Photo by )
When it comes to singing, the Filipinos were one of the best to show the expression of they can sing no matter what type of music you bring to the table.  This was also partly due to the Karaoke Culture in which most of the foreigners have the most single impression that when there is a karaoke fortunately you will find a Filipino at the end of the microphone.  This was given reference made by Canadian Stand-up Comedian Russell Peters that during the show he acknowledged a group of Filipinos sitting in front were staring at his microphone and humorously declared that they will do a Karaoke session.  Also on David Letterman’s Top 10 lists “Why there won’t be a Filipino Presidents, no. 3 No budget allocation to purchase Karaoke machines for every room in the White House.”  Karaoke machines were traditionally used for fiestas and celebration, sometime use it for recreation.  Most Filipinos in all walks of life have karaoke machines, DVD/MIDI players, Magic System, and even portable Karaoke machines.

"Harana" or simply Serenading is part of
Filipino's culture as form of Courtship
Filipinos were among the most gifted and the talented people in Asia, even before the Spanish came to colonize the country, the native Filipinos already establish traditional music such as the gong or gangsa and the kulintang in Mindanao.  During the Spanish period the Harana and Kundiman are lyrical songs which have Mexican-Spanish influence tradition.  The Americans introduced R&B, jazz during the American Occupation and when the 50’s came, the Filipinos were digging the music of Elvis and rock and roll was already adopted up to the present times.  Filipino folk songs were also popular but unlike folk music in Ireland, Hungary and Czech Republic, traditional music in the Philippines has never reached contemporary popularity unlike the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Siamese and Malayan.  With the entrance of television, popular culture from Europe and the United States young Filipinos have easy accessibility that results the traditional Filipino music is now at risk to fade to memory.

Filipino Singers Abroad (Photo from Vimeo)
Some Filipinos use their talents for singing to improve their lives and escape poverty.  Filipino singers will line up for a job application if there is any position available locally or abroad.  Singing abroad is most promising and has a higher salary as compare to Filipino entertainers based locally and hoping that might discover by an agent or a record producer with a recording contract.  Employers from abroad are all delightful to hire Filipino singers because of their passion in music.  Many Filipino singers especially in Japan were the crowd drawers and they can even sing Japanese songs when requested by the crowd.  Even in Southeast Asia, most of the employers much prefer Filipinos, one fine example is when I traveled in Bangkok last 2006, I was one the guest in the river cruise and I noticed a female vocalist along with other musicians sang and tirelessly entertained the guests and she have good and pleasant vocal presence.  I though first that she’s Thai but when she spoke Tagalog because most the guest in the cruise were Filipinos I was amazed, even foreigners in the cruise were also on to the music and were really entertain.I had a chance to talk to the vocalist and the rest of the band and most of them came from Davao and entertaining the river cruise for six years.  Another is that my mother told me that there were a lot of Filipino entertainers in the Disney Luxury Cruise in Miami and most of the guests have a very good time entertained.

Moreover, Foreigners were fascinated by Filipinos who were singing on stage no matter what genre of music they play or sing, they will definitely deliver the best quality entertainment.  One fine example was Nikki Minaj, during the elimination round of the American Idol a Filipino-American from contestant name Adriana Latonia were having casual talk with the judges and among them was Nikki Minaj and asked her, “are you a Filipino?”  The girl politely replied positively and sang “Ain’t No Way” by Aretha Franklin.  The judges were so impressed and even judge Maria Carey praised Latonio for taking on a big song.  “I was really proud of you and really happy for you.  That’s Aretha Franklin.  I really loved how you came through with you version of the song,” she said.  Unfortunately Adriana was eliminated in semi-finals of American Idol.

"Are you a Filipino?"
I kept wondering about Nikki Minaj’s question:  “Are you a Filipino?”  Does it mean that Filipino entertainers have finally arrived and duly recognized as a contender to any musical competitions and festivals all over the world.  Or is it a sign that the Filipino race is becoming a significant nationality in the music scene besides in healthcare and services?  I always bear in mind that us Filipinos were blessed in spite of all the bad publicity, unfortunate news, and mediocre life, a Filipino can still sing and deliver quality entertainment not just only in the Philippines but the whole world as well.

Watch the Video above to salute Filipino Talent (Video by Youtube)


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