Charice Pempengco is an odd teen copycat musician. By analyzing her, Filipino mediocrity can be exposed.
Who is this Charice in the first place? She has no distinct identity as a musician. She has no song of her own despite already having two albums. She keeps singing the same songs already made popular by Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, and Jojo. Charice’s latest single, Note To God, wasn’t eve good enough to be picked by Jojo’s management to be her single. Yet Charice kept singing the same old Diane Warren composed song like her life depended on it.
What makes Charice Pempenco peculiar is how her fame exposes Filipino mediocrity and flaws. First and foremost, I’m generalizing, but I don’t mean to state that all Filipinos are that way. Since getting noticed by some Americans (Elen Degeneres, Oprah, and the Canadian David Foster), some Filipinos have gone batshit insane in supporting Charice. That’s odd because before being noticed, Charice was just a runner-up to some singing show. In short, she was nothing special before being invited to the Elen Degeneres and Oprah shows.
The delayed support of Charice by Filipinos highlights a key flaw of Filipinos. Many Filipinos crave the validation of foreigners. They value and strive for anything foreign whether it’s foreign commodities or a foreign spouse. It’s rather sad that many would rather pay 400 something pesos for a cup of Starbucks Coffee over locally grown Kapeng Barako. It’s rather sad that many would value an imported can of corned beef over something locally made that might be more fresh.
The craving for foreign validation sadly extends to entertainment. Very few were fans of Charice or Arnel Pineda before they were noticed by Americans. After Arnel Pineda was picked to be the lead singer of Journey, many Filipinos became fan of the band to the point that many Filipinos wave the flag of the Philippines at Journey concerts. Charice was told she was ugly and wouldn’t make it in Philippine entertainment, but with Oprah’s support, she now has millions of Filipino fans.
The need to be recognized by Americans highlight a key weakness of the Filipino mind. Indian movies and songs are a joke to many Filipinos. Indians are referred to with offensive names and slurs. Nonetheless, when Americans started to like Slumdog Millionaire ,its song Jai Ho became the hottest thing around. Jai Ho was performed and covered in many Filipino variety shows. The film itself was belatedly shown in theaters after it won many Oscar awards. The trend of copying American entertainment trends could be explained by the colonial history of the country. From 1898 to 1946, the country was a colony of the United States. Nonetheless, the Philippines is not a complete lap-dog of the US entertainment industry. When the Da Vinci Code was making boatloads of money in the US with hardly any sign of an official ban, Philippine society was embarrassing progressives and independent thinkers. The film was banned in Manila, and many Catholic Church officials in the country called for boycotting the film. There were even petitions for the president to do something to prevent the film from being shown. Preseident Macapagal Arroyo, a cunning cheater, made one of her better decisions by sparing the country from being a laughing stock of the world.
Charice’s rise to fame also exposes how superficial Filipinos can be. Here is a singer with no song of her own, but just because she has a recording deal in the US, she is the toast of Filipinos everywhere. Nobody dares to question the artistic capacity of the singer. Nobody demanded original material from a so called “international artist”. Nobody dared to criticize the lack of originality of Charice. What is important to them is that the singer has appeared at the Elen and Oprah shows. Nobody dares to mention that David Foster, Charice’s producer, is a has been . Foster has had very few Top40 hits in this decade.
More worrisome is how Charice’s lack of identity explains the lack of identity of many Filipinos. It has been said that Filipinos are “lesser” Asians than other Asians. It has also been said that Filipinos are little brown Americans. While both are generalizations, there is an element of truth at their cores. International musicians have their own cultural identity even when they try to make it in the US. Hikaru Utada and Ayumi Hamasaki didn’t ditch their Japanese identities. Enrique Iglesias didn’t hide his Spanish roots (and he acknowledges his half Filipino roots as well). Shakira didn’t shed her Latin roots. Even Daddy Yankee didn’t drop the Reggaeton portion of his act. The odd part is when a Filipino musician tries to break through, he or she puts on the best attempt to out Americanize the Americans. Why is that the case?
Through their tacit support for Charice, Filipinos acknowledge that they can never make it in the global stage with a Filipino identity. Charice is mimicking Americans and Canadians. By supporting Charice, Filipinos demonstrate that the key to stardom and success is to try to become anything but themselves.
Worse of all, by supporting Charice, Filipinos demonstrate that it is acceptable na “puwede na lang” mediocrity as long as pupuriin at susuportahan ng mga Kano.
Mayroon akong hula na si “Nicole” ay masaya na despite what allegdly happened basta bigyan siya ng pera at papeles. I realize that my “Nicole” comment is below the belt and ugly. The “Nicole” case demonstrates how much Filipino mediocrity and kowtowing will support the big dogs of this world even if that big dog is heavily in debt to some country full of people that Filipinos routinely call “Intsik beho”.
Note how this person and commenters missed the point of constructive criticism here.