by Momar Visaya/Asianjournal.com
MAKATI CITY – Mark your calendars.
On May 12, young diva Charice Pempengco’s quest for international stardom gets a much-needed boost as her dream of being a guest at The Oprah Winfrey Show becomes a reality.
After traveling thousands of miles from Manila, Charice joined some of the world’s most talented, amazing kids take the Oprah stage. The Oprah Winfrey Show is the longest-running and highest-rated daytime television talk show in America today.
The young diva blew the audience away with her performance of Whitney Houston’s song I Have Nothing. After her fantastic performance, an emotional Charice told Oprah, “I’m always dreaming that someday I can be a part of your show. I can’t believe I’m here standing with you. This is my dream come true.”
Asian Journal sat down with Charice and her mom Raquel in Manila a day before they flew to Honolulu to ask her about her Oprah experience, how they have been trailblazing and jetsetting.
“Nung una po, parang hindi ako makapaniwala. Kasi Oprah yan eh, napapanood ko lang sa TV. Tita Millie (Gurfinkel) called my mom and sabi niya na mag ge-guest ako sa Oprah Winfrey Show. Si mommy, parang walang reaction, parang okay lang. Tapos after nilang mag-usap, sinabi ni mommy sa akin na gusto akong mai-guest sa Oprah so napasigaw ako sa tuwa,”
Charice said as she recalled the day when she found out about the guesting.
Indeed, it was a dream come true, considering that only weeks earlier, she and her mom have been talking about the good breaks she has been getting.
“Nagulat lang kami kasi napagkuwentuhan lang namin ni Mommy. Nasabi ko na after Ellen, tapos yung sa London, parang nag-wish lang ako na sana next time Oprah na. Kaya nagulat ako nung tumawag na si Tita Millie,” Charice shared.
It was a whirlwind from there. Mother and daughter flew to Chicago to come face to face with one of the most powerful women in media, Oprah Winfrey herself.
“Parang ang bilis ng mga nangyari. Pagdating namin dun, nag rest kami kasi kinabukasan rehearsal na. Dinala kami ng staff sa studio. Hindi ako makapaniwalang nakatayo na ako dun sa stage ng Oprah. Napapanood ko lang ito sa TV. Sabi nila, iyan yung stage mo bukas.
“Ito yung show na talagang pinakakinabahan ako, kasi siyempre Oprah ito. Tapos kinabukasan nakita ko yung mga kasama ko sa show, ang gagaling din nila,” Charice recalled.
“Iba ang talent ng Pinoy, kailangan kong ipakita yun. Matindi yung kaba ko nun talaga. Nung ako na, sabi ko, “This is it”. Kinanta ko yung “I Have Nothing” ni Whitney. Nag start siya chorus na kaya mabigat. Idinedicate ko yung performance kay Oprah,” she added.
After her performance, Charice recalled Oprah joining her on centerstage, asking her so many things.
“Saan daw galing yung boses ko, sino daw ako. Na-shock daw siya sa talent ko. Tapos niyakap na niya ako at napaiyak na siya. Napaiyak na din ako nun, tapos si mommy nakita ko umiiyak na din. Sinabi nila ako yung first Filipina sa show. I felt very, very proud,” Charice said.
It was a memorable scene that she kept on playing in her mind days, even weeks after the performance.
She felt happy after her song. She felt proud. She was ecstatic. A lot of things were going through her mind. “Na impress ko kaya siya? Nagustuhan kaya ng audience? Tama ba yung pagkakanta ko? Ang daming tumatakbo sa utak ko pagkatapos nun,” she related.
She didn’t have to worry. Oprah Winfrey loved her performance.
“Na-feel ko na special ako sa kanila. Ipinaramdam nila sa akin na special ako. Dun sa closing ng show, kasama na lahat, hindi napansin ni Oprah na ksama na ako sa group. Hinanap pa niya talaga ako. “Where’s Charice?” sabi niya.
“Nung umpisa, after ng Little Big Star, naisip ko lang na okay siguro kung magkaroon ako ng exposure sa Philippine TV. Tapos nag-start na yung sa Korea, then napanood ni Ellen. Nag tuloy-tuloy na,” she said.
Charice admitted that all these would not have been possible without the help of her fan known as the False Voice. Most of all, Charice thanks her US immigration lawyer, Atty. Michael Gurfinkel, who facilitated the issuance of Charice’s proper work visa that allowed her to appear on TV, to meet the show’s deadlines.
Also, Charice and mother’s passports were stolen recently and Atty. Gurfinkel helped with the re-issuance of their US visas that normally takes months – Gurfinkel did it 3 days.
“Kung wala si Atty. Gurfinkel, kahit may invitation ang Oprah show, di pwedeng mag perform si Charice dahil sa konting panahon na ibinigay para sa visa applications. Di siya makikita sa US television at all, kung di nakuha ni Atty. Gurfinkel ang kanilang mga visas,”
Charice’s mom revealed.
Ellen de Generes saw her videos and invited Charice to be a guest on her show. Last December, Charice performed And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going) on The Ellen de Generes Show and got a standing ovation from the audience. Then came London’s Paul O’Grady.
And now, it’s Oprah.
“Nangarap po ako ng malaki. Pero hindi maiiwasan yung mga challenges, mga problema. Kailangan lang ng tiyaga. Pagsisikap lang talaga. Ito yung gusto kong marating. Kahit anong challenge, go lang ng go. Di ba nga may kasabihan tayong mga Pilipino na kapag may tiyaga, may nilaga?”
Other kids featured in the program include; seven-year-old ballroom dancers, an eight-year-old guitarist, a three-year-old drummer, a seven-year-old pianist, a ten-year-old who plays the accordion, the youngest film director in history, a two-and-a-half-year-old pint-size prodigy who can identify more than 100 countries on a map and a fourteen-year-old international best-selling author. Also, a nine-year-old dancing phenomenon nicknamed “happy feet” teaches Oprah how to do the Cha-Cha slide.
Abigail Breslin and Willow Smith, daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, will join the show via satellite to discuss their upcoming film project An American Girl. (www.asianjournal.com)
(Catch Charice on The Oprah Winfrey Show on Monday, May 12, 2008 – check your local listing)