There was a time in my teens when I really went crazy for Nora Aunor. Her appeal was something even I could not fathom. Like I was slipped a ruffie and couldn’t recall what had happened. Waking up from another universe, thinking how I may have been abducted by aliens while on a road-trip through Death Valley in the midst of a summer heat wave, or from a long spell of unconsciousness that caused me to behave in a manner totally unlike what was supposed to be me. I loved her so much that I even painted a portrait of her. Collected pictures of her in different poses along with her different leading men, and even made a scrapbook of all of these and daydreamed about Maria Leonora Teresa. That was the doll Tirso Cruz III gave her, and sort of became their “baby.”
It was like a fluke in an otherwise very serious stage of growing up, a glitch that straightened out as I got over it and reality took over. The excitement while it was happening though was something to remember. Like every time a new movie of hers would be announced in the news, I would make sure to see it. It didn’t matter who her new leading man was, it was her that I wanted to see, in all the various flimsy storylines and sometimes plotless and incredible things that had to happen to her in each of her motion pictures. Of course, the roles in her later films would have her do the award winning performances she is now more famous for, but I fell for the sweet young thing her career started with, and it has left me feeling like I grew up with her too.
I call to mind these things now because I feel I am regressing towards that juvenile obsession again. At fifty-four this seems to be ridiculous, but when I get to see and hear this amazing young girl belt out such adult songs before enthralled audiences (standing ovation pa), which includes me sempre, emotionally charged renditions that always, without fail, touches us (especially “Note To God” sung at the Oprah show), who cannot get hooked?
Yes, I have joined the Charice train. Boarded it and can’t seem to get enough mileage to sawa. Every morning, or before retiring, if I’m unable to access my internet connection earlier in the day, I have to have an hour at least, watching and hearing and knowing what is the latest, newest thing that’s happening to her.
Ambelibobol! The host of a Korean singing show, Star King, could not help himself. (O, ga-YouTube ko gihapon.) It is indeed amazing how this little wee person can sing such sizable songs that somehow wiggles us out of our passivity and connects us again with some emotional response that inevitably ends with a tear or two. So much so that sometimes I think the “Crying Lady” has started to invade my body. I realize now that this phenomenon does not seem to be confined only to the teenager in us. It’s not about age, I discover, but a state of mind.
This is why, with each step up the ladder that this young thing achieves, it is equally disturbing how disparaging some Kababayans have been about it all. It is beyond understanding how we cannot all be happy for her. Another person her age would have buckled under the demands of such audiences as she has had to please, let alone be received with as many standing ovations as she has been given. A feat, by no means, of incredible proportions. We, of ordinary means and talents, must either learn from her and appreciate the wonderful things her success has added to what the world sees in our Filipino-ness, or, if we can’t say anything good (because this kind of success is good), just stand back and bask in the light that Charice has brought to our ordinary lives.
Umberto Eco, in the chapter “Regretfully, We Are Returning… Reader’s Reports,” from the collection Misreadings, humors us by writing about how a reader for a publisher could or may “judge” literary works and such authors as Homer with his Odyssey, Dante Alighieri and his Divine Comedy, and even Cervantes and the classic Don Quixote, if they had submitted these works as manuscripts for publication. These well-known, and equally established literary canons would have been given as little value if it were up to that one reader who probably thought he was the expert in knowing what was good or bad writing. Imagine the loss if this one person’s opinion decided what was appropriately good literature or not. In the same sense, Charice’s talent has gone through the judging process. She may not have been recognized as the best in the contests she joined in the Philippines, but imagine if she had just given up and told herself to accept them as the rules rather than the exceptions. There would not have been a chance for her to be better received as the international singer she is today.
“Never give up.” This was the simple enough advice she told the Korean singer Luna. What performer does not aspire to be in the same boat as Charice? It was hope that brought her to the place where she is now. Hope that may even, in a larger, more serious vein here, bring Pnoy’s leadership through the morass of corruption plaguing our government, and maybe illumine the best instead of the worst in all of us.
The certainty that something so significant can happen to someone others have decided as too unlikely to achieve something as good as Charice’s success, has allowed me to embrace my own expectations of a future of possibilities.
Ambelibobol!… indeed, and best of all, conveys an unshackling of years of limiting improbabilities, and that now, the world may just be my oyster again. (Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Dabawenya Margot Marfori is a writer and visual artist who continues to live the Davao she loves. She taught at the University of the Philippines in Mindanao from 1996 to 2002. She is now based more times of the year in Henderson, Nevada, while her youngest son is studying at UNLV, and, where her two older children in San Francisco are near enough to visit.)