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Pursuit of Higher Education

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I felt elated at the recent news that Charice enrolled in college here in USA. Although it is off-campus study, still it is one big step forward for a girl who seems to have so many agendas going on for her. Coming from a college student like myself, this is one subject that I knew like the back of my hand. Attending college not only requires good study habits but also requires a whole lot of perseverance, self-discipline, and good time management.

First of all, let me hand it to Charice for making an excellent decision to put college education in her priority list. Having a back-up plan is a great way to deal with the harsh reality of life. The music industry although, one could easily reap millions of dollars does not guarantee a lifetime of successful record deals. Fans taste are oftentimes finicky and could easily switch loyalty if not satisfied or as they say did not get their money’s worth. Suddenly a new singer will come along with a better showmanship and bigger voice. Sad to say, but true.

The entertainment industry does hide the ugly truth with glitter and glamour. Those promotion appearances, world-wide concert tours requires super kind of energy and never-ending enthusiasm, requires months of preparations and rehearsals, daily hard-work beyond the eight-hour limit. Unlike an office desk job, oftentimes, you can not call in sick. You must prove that you are a “pro” and will follow the proverbial saying “the show must go on.” Millions of dollars are at stake to be affected by any ailments.

During one of Diana Ross’ sold out outdoor concerts in Central Park, New York City, it was hit by a sudden heavy downpour. Although she was concerned that she could lose her voice by the sudden change in temperature, however, as a real trooper, and true professional, she bravely went on with the show. She continued to sing under the heavy rain, and completed her show while her nice designer evening gown, and glorious hairdo were soaking wet.

Concert tickets are sold months in advance, so many people are involved; promoters, stage hands, orchestra members, dancers, back-up singers, security officers, technical handlers, sound and lighting technicians, event host or hostesses. So many facets of the event rest on the shoulder of the main event singer. The demand and pressure is so heavy that it requires the singer to be in tip-top shape. It is unfortunate to say that some will resort to the use of drugs, to make them sleep, to make them relax, to make them confident, to give them that extra energy. Some will resort to the use of alcohol to calm their nerves. These behind the scene occurrences are always hidden from the adoring public and the roving eyes of paparazzi and rumor-mongering media. These scenes are well camouflaged that once the singer appear on the stage, the adoring fans does not have a bit of a clue as to what has occurred prior to show time, and during those grueling rehearsals.

As they say, once the fans are out there with their paid tickets, the singer must perform and must deliver a top rated highly satisfactory show. The singer’s voice, sound, lighting must be perfect, her outfit impeccable, her showmanship are all subjected to the microscopic scrutiny and merciless criticisms. The singer must connect well with the audience. The singer must be very careful that they always say the right thing. The fans must go home satisfied, and wanting more. It is always a win or break situation.

Charice has the uncanny ability to connect with her fans, although not 100 percent. There are always pockets of Filipino resistance called “detractors” or whatever name-calling has been designated to these group of people who regularly wages unrelenting vicious attacks for every knit-picking detail. These problem I refused to elaborate or get involved with. I refused to glorify them. All I could say to them is, “If you don’t like her, stay away from her videos.”

While American audience are always very obliging to foreign performers. We always give allowances to the lack of good command of English, or thick accents or incorrect pronunciations. However, once the performer chooses to rake in their millions of dollars in the United States, it is more than expected that they improve their spoken English as it is the acceptable language in the United States. Also, concert audience expects to be treated equally, whether young, old, female, male, Filipinos or non-Filipinos. They are all sitting there inside the venue and had paid their tickets. No one group of people should get special acknowledgment while the others are ignored. That is not acceptable. These blunder happened twice but again, Americans are very forgiving.

I never heard neither Celine Dion asking her audience if there are any French nor Whitney Houston asking if there are any blacks on the audience. It is unnecessary. A true professional singer will never, never slight anyone of their loving fans or audience.

The singer must always show unbiased love and respect towards all including those misguided detractors. Hard as it may seem to swallow but as a public figure, a singer can not engage in a fight with their critics. Take it all, good or bad with a grain of salt.

Nineteen years old singer Taylor Swift was asked by Oprah Winfrey as to what advice she could give her young audience on the Oprah Winfrey Show of the “World’s Most Talented and Smartest Kids.” Taylor Swift responded eloquently, “You could copy any of your idols but you must strive hard to come up with your own unique, and original style of performing.” “Above all, always be nice.”  Taylor Swift sold 10 millions of her first album. She was the recipient of MTV’s 2009 Best Female Video Music Award. Her upcoming Madison Square Garden concert was sold out in five minutes. Not bad for a newcomer. Taylor was rudely bashed on stage by Kanye West but as a true pro, she just shrugged it off with a smile. She won my respect and adulation.

Majority of what was presented here are not necessarily taught in the classroom of a University. But consider these as pearls of wisdom that a budding International singer could learn from. It is presented with all the good intention that if we do really care for Charice, we must make every effort to point out what she missed from her vantage point. After all, she is on the stage and we are the audience. This is meant to be constructive coming from a well meaning writer, and staunch supporter.

Being a part of the huge teen demographic of fans, we are considered the biggest spenders on music CD’s, and other knick-knacks and souvenirs to booster the career of our idol. However, Charice’s outstanding singing ability, and powerful voice are the primary qualities that attracted me to her. The first time I saw her performed in person was in Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on May 24, 2008. It was the first David Foster and Friends concert which was a power packed house of music’s royalty from Josh Groban to Andrea Bocelli. But somehow, what stands out that evening was Charice Pempengco who was a complete unknown in U.S. entertainment industry. From that moment on, I was an avid fan. Her performance of several great ballads was absolutely memorable. She is definitely a STAR!!!

Nonetheless, Charice’s decision to enroll in college, and pursue a course of study is one brilliant move. As a student myself, all I could say is that it will require a lot of hard work and perseverance. But the payoff in the long run will be something she will never regret. Charice is in her prime. Time is on her side.

To give you one idea and lasting inspiration is Ms. Oprah Winfrey. She was born to extreme poverty, and was also raised by relatives (aunts and uncles). As a young child, she was molested terribly. But she was able to overcome all these adversities. She was able to turn her life around. How? Well, first and foremost, she loves getting educated. She put her mind into finishing her education no matter what. Now, she is reaping what she sow. She is the richest and one of the most powerful woman in the world.

As the saying goes, “knowledge is power.”

One of my favorite quotation on education is from St. Edmund of Abringdon circa 1175–1240

“Study as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow.”

Although being an artiste may bring sudden fame and fortune but it is always wise to have a college education just in case things started to wane. Music industry is a tough career to sustain. Everything is based upon the sales of albums and concerts. There is nothing wrong with having a back up plan. Something you could fall back into, once all the limelight has dimmed.

Being an educated person is something they can not take away from you. Believe me.

Charice good luck in your pursuit of academic achievement.


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