Tag Archives: Singer

To be loved . . . by the King of Love Songs

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
“Balatkayo lahat ang buhay sa mundo Nakangiti kahit hindi totoo Magandang bulaklak ang s’yang katulad mo Nguni’t paglapit ko’y walang bango.”
The lines above are from the classic love song entitled Balatkayo composed by the Philippines’ King of Love Songs, Anthony Castelo . The song laments how his lover has turned out to be a phony. So, he grieves that most people live life pretending; putting on an act; faking love or happiness; being balatkayo.

Fortunately, the multi-awarded singer/composer is exactly the opposite of being a balatkayo. A truly accomplished international artist, Anthony is a genuinely caring and loving human being who has lived to make a difference in the world he lives in. Despite a long list of gold records, sold-out concerts and outstanding performances for world dignitaries like US President George W. Bush, Saudi King Fahd, Moroccan King Hassan II, Princess Margaret of England, Premier Suzuki of Japan, and Pope John Paul II, he has not been dazzled by show business. He has always had an innate charitable interest in others; looking for ways to extend help, show kindness and give support.

Born in the Philippines, Anthony has a unique Eurasian mix of Filipino and Portuguese/Spanish ancestry. He studied in Los Angeles and it was there, while in his teens that he began his music career, joining the world-famous choral group The Young Americans.

Later, while still a student at the University of the Philippines, Castelo joined the Gentle Rain—a group led by well-known songwriter/producer Nonong Pedero. The quartet, whose members included Boy Camara and Rody Picar, developed an amazing quick and faithful following among the collegians. Later, Anthony was discovered by famous recording producers and OPM pioneers Vic del Rosario, Tony Ocampo, Orly Ilacad and Tito Sotto. A marvelous singer and performer gifted with a soulful baritone or tenor voice, he instantly gained the respect of his audiences everywhere.

Anthony’s success as a solo artist has been nothing short of remarkable. His songs such as Hahanapin Ko, Panaginip, Ibig Kong Ibigin Ka, Nang Dahil sa Pag-Ibig, and numerous others quickly hit the charts and Castelo was dubbed as the “Philippines’ King of Love Songs.” He has earned numerous awards for his music; among them were the ALIW and CECIL Awards (the Philippines’ version of the Grammy Awards).

In addition to music, Anthony has also starred in several hit movies together with the Philippines’ finest actors such as Christopher De Leon, Dindo Fernando, Vilma Santos, and Lorna Tolentino. His 1982 Movie of the Year Pakawalan Mo Ako, garnered him a nomination for the FAMAS (the Oscars of the Philippines).

While many would be contented with a successful career in the arts, Anthony did not rest on his laurels to give more contributions which are significant to the society. He had served as a councilor of Quezon City for which he received the BANTAYOG Award for the “Most Outstanding Quezon City Councilor” in 1999 and 2000 given by the Quezon City Press Club.

Several years ago, Castelo immigrated to the States, making his home in Los Angeles with his family. While continuing his career as a performer, Anthony also used his talent to help organizations such as the International Red Cross, the March of Dimes and other humanitarian institutions. In one occasion in Las Vegas, Anthony performed for the Sammy Davis Memorial Concert, which was held in honor of the late entertainer for the benefit of the March of Dimes Foundation.

After the 911 terrorists’ attack, Castelo composed the song, Long Live America, which he himself presented to President George W. Bush during his visit to the White House in 2002. The song soon became a best-selling hit and for this patriotic composition, the State of Maryland House of Delegates, the City of Los Angeles, and the San Diego, California Congressional District honored Castelo with special awards of artistic recognition.

“Through the years, our people have always been my inspiration in everything I do. It was through music that I’ve learned how to love God, our people and our country, and my role as a public servant is the articulation of that song of love,” Castelo said.

In 2004, through his established non-profit organization Long Live America Foundation, the singer helped secure for Engracia Gutierrez a humanitarian visa to come to the United States. Engracia is the sister and only living next-of-kin to US Lance Corporal Jose Gutierrez, an immigrant from Guatemala who died in Iraq. Likewise, with the help of city officials from Lomita and Carson, Castelo organized a 2004 Fourth of July event honoring Gutierrez and another immigrant soldier, Philippine-native US Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Menusa, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their adopted country.

All of Castelo’s philanthropy and help for the needy has recently earned him his most cherished award and recognition. Last April 2008, he received the prestigious “President’s Volunteer Service Award” during ceremonies at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. The award was issued by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, a committee formed by President George W. Bush in 2003 by Executive Order. It recognizes outstanding efforts of individuals and organizations towards their community and country.

“On behalf of Long Live America Foundation, it is a privilege for me to receive this recognition and I share this honor with all Filipinos around the globe,” he said. “Through the years, America has shared its blessings of freedom and prosperity with the nations of the world. As a thankful immigrant whose native Philippines has been liberated by the United States in World War II, it is truly an honor to be of service to this great country.”

Albert Einstein once said that “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” Anthony Castelo has truly made his life worthwhile by making a difference in the lives of others. (www.asianjournal.com)


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‘Legends nAPO Sila!’

by Carmie O. Carpio/AJPress

The Apo Hiking Society is considered as one of the pillars of Original Pilipino Music (OPM), having popularized a great number of outstanding Filipino songs. Composed of the remarkable trio of Danny Javier, Jim Paredes and Boboy Garrovillo, this legendary musical group has etched life, creativity and wit to the Filipino entertainment industry.

Before reaching the summit of their success, The Apo Hiking Society was but a casual meeting of students at the Ateneo de Manila High School (AMHS), the same acronym which inspired the group to come up with the moniker Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society.

Who would have thought that a juvenile and innocent act by a youthful yet prolific group could produce a fecund collection of original Pinoy songs? Awit ng Barkada, Batang-bata Ka Pa, Di Na Natuto, Doo Bidoo, Just a Smile Away, Kabilugan ng Buwan, Mahirap Magmahal ng Syota ng Iba, Panalangin, Pumapatak ang Ulan, When I Met You, and Yakap sa Dilim, have become timeless classics.

Originally a quartet with Lito de Joya as the fourth member, The Apo Hiking Society had its first taste of recognition during a two-night farewell concert held at the Meralco Auditorium (now Meralco Theatre) in July 1973. At that time, Apo was already gaining popularity from college students who were drawn to the group’s humor and musicality.

However, the group was on the verge of disbanding. Jim Paredes wanted to go to Turkey as an exchange student, while Lito de Joya opted to join the corporate world.

The farewell concert, which they had taped, became Apo’s first album a year later. Jim Paredes didn’t push through with his Turkey trip and the trio continued making good music that brought them to new heights in the music industry.

Three decades later, Apo has almost reached the summit of success. Encompassing themes of friendship, young love, heartbreak, romance, and even nationalism—all branded with Apo’s unique approach to music through their brilliant lyrics and catchy melodies—made them win the admiration of thousands.

Within this period, the Apo came up with 22 record albums and countless major solo concerts as well as provincial, dinner, and corporate shows. Their local success extended towards the international scene, paving the way for their performances in over 50 cities in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia. In fact, the Apo is noted as the first Filipino pop group to perform at the Main Hall of New York’s Carnegie Hall. That particular concert in October of 1987, as well as that in the prestigious Massey Hall in Toronto—Canada’s music capital, were both sold out. In that same year, Apo performed at the Shrine in Los Angeles. Then LA Mayor Tom Bradley declared October 10, 1987 as Apo Hiking Society Day.

Apo’s dedication to OPM has brought them a wealth of well-deserved acclaim and achievements, including being one of the first groups to be recorded on compact disc.

In 1994, Apo won the first Dangal ng Musikang Pilipino by Awit Awards – the Filipino equivalent of the Grammy. It was also conferred the Tanglaw Ng Lahi Award, the highest recognition given by Jesuits in the field of culture and arts.

During the height of the People Power Revolution, Jim Paredes composed Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo, which was recorded by 15 Filipino artists in April 1986, as a tribute to the bloodless revolution. Equally famous as the revolution itself, an English version of the song entitled A New and Better Way was launched in Australia. Handog was also released in London during the first anniversary of the People Power. Its lyrics can now be seen on a wall of the Our Lady of Edsa Shrine, the heart of the revolution.

The Apo also hosted several television shows, including their own noontime Sunday show Sa Linggo nAPO Sila.

In 2006, as tribute to and in celebration of the musical influence and achievements of the Apo Hiking Society, various contemporary Filipino artists launched Kami nAPO Muna, a compilation album containing Apo’s hit tracks in a new light and with a modern twist. It was immediately followed by Kami nAPO Muna Ulit.

Currently, Danny, Jim and Boboy are working on their much-awaited comeback concert, dubbed Apo of the Philippines. The concert is set to take place at the Araneta Coliseum on September 20. As early as now, it is already touted to be the greatest concert in OPM history. (www.asianjournal.com)

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Kuh Ledesma’s Universal Appeal

by Rene Villaroman/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – Although I have not watched her perform in acoustically proper venues like a concert hall or an auditorium, I have been fortunate enough to watch her perform twice in the entertainment portions of two trade expositions, once at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and again at the Del Mar Fair Grounds in San Diego County. Both performances were in the mid-1990s.

In 1997, I attended the launching in Los Angeles of her CD, Precious, at the Philippine Village Center in Eagle Rock. Kuh’s performance was truly impressive.

Some of Kuh’s back-up musicians and her co-producers were there, and she sang a couple of tracks from the CD. I was very impressed by what I heard. I got hold of a CD a few weeks later and had ample opportunity to listen to all the tracks. I was so impressed. I said to myself, with the right marketing push and direction, a few tracks in that CD could be candidates for Top 40 honors in the R & B and smooth jazz stations across the United States.


was such an excellent product of a collaboration of an acclaimed Filipino vocalist and contemporary jazz and R & B musicians and composers, and was out in the market for years. Unfortunately, it wasn’t marketed aggressively and the effort was left mostly unheralded. The album missed out on the opportunity to get airtime in mainstream radio stations across America.

Years later, kudos were still coming from people across the globe. These reviewers were not all Filipinos. Consider this one from a British chap, Bob Seddon, dated September 29, 2001: “I first discovered the golden voice of Kuh after obtaining the album The Soul of Smooth Jazz Volume 2, released in the UK by Jazz FM. That CD features the tracks Lover’s Journey and Dreaming and when I heard them, I had to investigate this artist’s work further. The CD Precious is, I would say, one of the best buys I’ve made in a long time. The track Keep on Loving Me encapsulates the spirit and mood of the CD and Kuh’s rendition of the Doobie Brothers classic What a Fool Believes demonstrates that she keeps her finger on the soulful pulse; it also demonstrates her incredible vocal range, as does the moving ballad Love Begins With You. I first heard Love Will Follow on Kenny Loggins’ album Outside-Live from the Redwoods, and he teamed up with Shanice for his rendition of the song which he wrote. Kuh’s version is good but lacks the length of Kenny’s version. Moonlight, Silence and I Remember Your Love all demonstrate the fact that Kuh knows how to ‘put a song across’ in her own unique style. I say ‘unique’ as I know from other reviews that she has been compared to Barbra Streisand; I don’t agree. Whilst both are excellent vocalists, their work, I think, is aimed at different audiences. Barbra has her won style and, thankfully, Kuh has hers. Their recorded material, whilst featuring strings, horns, etc., stands out as different to anyone who has a musical ear. I took this CD to Gibraltar recently and when played, many asked with interest who it was. That speaks for itself! I look to future releases by this artist.”

This is, by far, the best accolade I have read directed at Kuh Ledesma’s universal caliber as an artist, and I feel so proud for her. I have been a smooth jazz and jazz fusion enthusiast for more than three decades in the Philippines and in the States. So when I heard Kuh’s Precious CD, I knew that it had struck gold as a smooth jazz and R & B CD. Precious could have achieved the commercial and critical acclaim that it deserved. (www.asianjournal.com)

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Charice Brings Down the House on Oprah

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – She may have sang Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing, but Filipino singing sensation Charice Pempengco seems to have everything going her way.

Charice brought down the house as she performed on the Oprah Winfrey Show last Monday. The episode featured the world’s smartest and most gifted kids with Charice joining nine other wunderkinds on the stage.

Once Charice came up to perform, her rendition of I Have Nothing made the audience rise from their seats giving her a standing ovation mid-way through the performance. The crowd also gave her another standing O after the performance

As Charice hit the song’s crescendo, the camera panned to Oprah, who stood mouthing, “wow, wow, wow” to a stagehand and shook her head in disbelief at the power of Pempengco’s voice.

“What a blow-away moment!” said Oprah after the performance.

Oprah said she first heard about Charice from producer/songwriter David Foster, who is famous for working with singers like Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and Barbara Streisand.

“He says you’re a force to be reckoned with,” said Oprah to Charice. “Your voice is something deeper in itself.”

With tears in her eyes, Charice said appearing on Oprah is a dream come true.

“I can’t believe I’m here standing with you,” said Charice. “I can’t believe I’m hugging you!”

Backstage on Oprah

This year has been a whirlwind ride around the world for the Filipino diva. Since her Youtube appearance last year generated millions of hits, slowly but surely the world has taken notice.

So far, she has appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show in December. She went to Korea to perform on Star King then came back home for more performances in the Philippines to spend Christmas and New Year. Charice also appeared in one of London’s most popular show Paul O’Grady before gracing the Oprah Winfrey Show.

It was her first trip to the windy city, and Charice made the most of it when she appeared on Oprah.

Charice said she did not meet Oprah prior to her performance but wanted to impress the famous daytime host.

Again just like on Ellen, she felt overwhelmed by the reaction from the crowd after her performance.

“First of all I’m shocked,” said Charice in a phone call to the Asian Journal after she saw the show for the first time. She did the taping more than a month ago but had to keep mum about it until it aired nationally. “I saw some people cry [during the performance].”

She spoke briefly to Oprah backstage.

“She’s very pretty and kind,” said Charice. “She’s a true person like Ellen. I love them both.”

Charice said she enjoyed meeting some of the other kids backstage especially 8-year-old Quincy Eaton, the dancing actor in one of McDonald’s most popular commercials.

“We were dancing together after the show but it was edited out,” said Charice.

What’s next.

So far, more shows are already in Charice’s schedule. At the moment, she’s just grateful of the support from everyone.

“I don’t know what’s next,” she added. “I want to be surprised.”

Charice also mentioned that her album is available on the iTunes store.


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Charice to Appear on Oprah

By Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – First, it was Ellen DeGeneres. Now, Oprah Winfrey has invited the 15-year-old Filipino singing wunderkind as a guest on her No. 1 daytime US TV show.

ABS-CBN reported that Charice Pempengco has taped an episode on the Oprah Winfrey show to air sometime in May.

Tapos na po akong kumanta para sa isa pong episode ng Oprah (I’ve just recorded a performance for Oprah),” she said in a phone interview with an ABS-CBN reporter.

Pempengco did not delve into further details as to what she will be doing on the show.

However, a 43-second teaser for the upcoming episode on Oprah is already posted on Youtube and other video sharing websites.

From the teaser, it appears that Pempengco will perform and share the stage with other music and dance child prodigies.

“They may look like ordinary kids but what they’re getting ready to do on our stage will blow you away. This you have to believe,” according to the Oprah episode clip.

Originally from Cabuyao, Laguna, Philippines, Pempengco’s musical journey has been a whirlwind ride since appearing on

The Ellen De-Generes Show last December. She just finished an appearance in the Paul O’Grady Show in London. She’s also been traveling frequently to New York and Los Angeles.

Besides The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Pempengco has been featured twice in the US on the Daily Ten, a regular show on E! entertainment channel. She was first noticed when she placed third as a 12-year-old contestant on the first season of Little Big Star, a singing contest aired on ABS-CBN in the Philippines and internationally on The Filipino Channel.

Charice will have her first ever appearance before her kababayans at the 36th anniversary awards of Los Angeles Filipino American organization Search to Involve Pilipino Americans on April 26.


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Lani Misalucha Best Singer in 27th Annual Best of Las Vegas

by Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – Filipina singer Lani Misalucha, dubbed Asia’s Nightingale, was voted Best Singer in the recently concluded 27th annual Best of Las Vegas poll. Conducted by The Las Vegas Review-Journal, almost 8,000 total votes were cast and tallied in this year’s poll. There were two picks for best singer; the readers’ pick was Celine Dion and the staff pick was Lani Misalucha.

Born in Manila,Philippines, Lani holds shows at the Flamingo Las Vegas with the veteran Hawaiian variety troupe Society of Seven – SOS. Misalucha’s full-throated style and wide range have been frequently compared to those of popular divas such as Barbara Streisand, Whitney Houston, and Celine Dion. Since arriving in Las Vegas in 2004, she has been called the New Siren of the Strip. She possesses a comedic flair and can effectively impersonate above-named divas as well as Gladys Knight, Toni Braxton, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, Tina Turner, Beyonce Knowles, and Britney Spears.

Born into a musical family, Lani started joining various bands at age 17 as a vocalist or back-up singer. After obtaining a degree in Business Management from the Philippine Christian University, Lani married Noli Misalucha, an IT expert and Mormon pastor with whom she has two kids, Lian and Louven.

In 1996, Misalucha made a breakthrough with the song “Ang Iibigin ay Ikaw” which was a finalist at the Metropop Song Festival and later conferred the Awit Award for Record of the Year. In 1998, she won acclaim outside the country when she was awarded the Best Interpreter/Singer Award at the 3rd Asian Song Festival. Misalucha received the Grand Prize at the 1999 Metropop Song Festival Artist of the Year Award. In that same year, she won the Aliw Award for Best Lounge Act, Awit Award for Best Performance by a Female Recording Artist, and Awit Award Nomination for Best Stage Actress.

Misalucha was hailed as Aliw Awardee for Best Female Performance in Music Lounges, Bars, Clubs & Restaurants for four consecutive years, 1999-2002. She became a semi-regular host in the Sunday noontime show SOP (Sobrang Okey Pare) in 2001, along with other top artists. Her first major solo concert in September 2001 at the Araneta Coliseum entitled, “Lani Misalucha, The Crossover Live Tour” was packed to the rafters by over 18,000 fans. In that same year, Misalucha received the Aliw Award for Best Major Concert by a Female Artist and the Tinig Award for Best Solo Performer. Her Crossover Live Concert album received the Platinum Award.

In 2002, she bagged the Aliw “Entertainer of the Year” award, and two Katha awards — Best Folk Song Vocal Performance and Best Traditional Song Vocal Performance. She also held her first US Concert Tour that year, performing in Reno, San Diego, Washington, Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Atlantic City, Pasadena, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. of San Francisco declared August 17 “Lani Misalucha Day” to give due recognition to her talent as an artist.

In 2004, after being granted a US visa as an “Alien of Extraordinary Ability,” Misalucha relocated with her whole family to the United States.

In no time, Lani became the first Asian to headline in a Main Showroom of the Las Vegas Strip, performing with Hawaii’s Society of Seven at the Jubilee Theatre of Bally’s. Her stint at Bally’s ran for 15 months from August 7, 2004 to February 5, 2006, after which she and the Society of Seven moved to the Main Showroom of the Flamingo starting last August 2006. They will be staying on at the Flamingo till April 13.



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