Making [Pi] Noise in America

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – There is no doubt that Filipinos are a talented bunch. In the past, the US entertainment industry has had its share of FilAm artists in their roster.

There’s funnyman Rob Schneider, born and raised in San Francisco to a Filipina mother, Pilar and Caucasian father. Rob Schneider’s comic talent made millions laugh through his movies like Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and The Hot Chick. Actor Lou Diamond Philips who is part-Filipino and was born at the Subic Naval Base in the Philippines, is a highly respected artist for his performances in La Bamba, Young Guns and many others. Tia Carrere, who is a model, actress and singer, has also made her mark Hollywood in Wayne’s World. FilAms who made headlines — Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical and Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger. Of course, there’s Apl.d.ap of the Black Eyed Peas, who gives a Filipino fl avor to their songs, like Bebot . Filipino talent has shone in American Idol with the likes of Camille Velasco, Jasmine Trias and much recently, Ramiele Malubay.

However, as we are all happy for their success, popularity and ability to penetrate the mainstream entertainment industry, other Filipino entertainers — all whom have come all the way from the Philippines — are making us truly proud to be Pinoy .

YouTube Diva.

One diehard fan, one posting on YouTube, almost a million views, one lucky chance to be viewed by the Ellen Degeneres Show — and then a life-changing experience in what was once a slow-moving career for this petite 15-year-old. Charice Pempengco, a runner-up in one of the Philippine’s local star-search, had no inkling of what was in store for her. She was hardly a household name in the Philippines before, but after her debut in Ellen, Charice has become an instant hit not only in the Filipino community in the US, but also in the mainstream as well. After all, she has been a guest in Oprah, and has performed alongside big stars like Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli and David Foster.

In her recent performance at the Fiesta Filipina in San Francisco, Asian Journal had the pleasure of talking to Charice about her soaring career. When asked on what she felt after performing with big name stars during David Foster and Friends in Las Vegas where she was given a standing ovation by the audience, she replied “After nang show na yon, parang me nagbago, (After the show, something has changed,)” and added, “Yung mga malalaking tao, binati nila ako, sinasabihan nila ako na ang galing ko. (The big stars, they congratulated me, they said I was good).”

Still, in spite of her rising popularity, Charice has kept herself grounded. “Ako po, di ko po naman masasabi na narating ko ang gusto kong marating, (For me, I can’t say that I have reached my goals),” she humbly said and added, “Lagi ko pa rin iniisip na ganito pa rin ako, kung ano po ang pagkakilala nila sa akin dati, ganoon pa rin po ako. (I always keep in mind that I am still the same person they know).

An uncanny ‘Journey’ to fame

He has been singing most of his life in the Philippines, but has never made it big. Arnel Pineda’s journey from being to singing covers for popular band to being the lead singer of the rock band Journey can probably be classifi ed as a modern-day fairytale. After a long time of searching for a new lead singer for the rock band Journey, band member Neal Schon found Arnel on where else — YouTube. After a number of e-mail and phone calls, Arnel still had to believe that the offer was real. In fact, his story — from being discovered on the Internet, to how he was able to get his US visa to fi nally performing with the band — can be made into a movie.

Since then, Arnel has been rocking fans in their world tour, with his uncanny similarity — in voice and style — with former band lead singer, Steve Perry. He has also recently released his fi rst album with the band, Revelation, which has sold more than 104,000 copies in its debut week, according to Wal-Mart Stores. He has also appeared in Ellen and has been interviewed with the rest of the band on CBS’ Sunday Morning. As Sunday Morning host John Blackstone said, “Ironically, the man that they hired to keep Journey the same, has changed them in ways they couldn’t have imagined.”


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