Again by Janet Jackson - Cover Song by Tata Villaruel

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Historical but disappointing: A Sunday of contrasts

vPENPOINT By Ryan Mark
The Freeman 01/28/2006

January 22 was one of the most colorful Sundays in Philippine history. During that day, we witnessed the victory of boxing champ Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao, happening miles away in Las Vegas, Nevada, thanks to the blow-by-blow coverage of ABS-CBN, courtesy of Solar Entertainment. And at night, back in our country, we witnessed the jubilee of R&B crooner Kris Lawrence as he joined ABS-CBN's league of champion singers after besting "promdis" Tata Villaroel of Iloilo and our very own Jimmy Marquez.

Interesting to note is that Pacman had to go to the US to prove his worth in the boxing world, while Kris had to leave Uncle Sam's land to find his place in the Philippine music industry. Nevertheless, that Sunday was undeniably a disappointing one for Cebuanos in particular-and for "promdis" in general-after Jimmy and Tata failed to clinch the top plum in the recently concluded "Search For The Star in A Million."

It was a disappointing loss because after following previous performance nights of the SIAM hopefuls and then watching the top three in the final showdown,I did not see anything "Hugyaw" (read: fabulous) or anything extraordinary in Kris' performance last Sunday. My good friend and The FREEMAN community editor Divine Sanchez was actually uncomfortable with Kris' rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Lately" as Kris looked jolly on stage with his signature "pa-cute" look. Well, I looked the song's lyrics up in the Internet and found out that it's a sad love song that talks about a woman leaving and uncertain of returning to a man who either loved her or not. This convinced me all the more that Kris interpreted it wrongly. Why should you be happy when you are about to lose someone special to you? When he had a duet with Pops Fernandez for the song "Closer to You," he did better since it was a "pa-cute" song, anyway. But when he did another sad love song-"How Am I Suppose to Live Without You"-the "pa-cute" facial expression and some unfitting R&B-ish actuations came on again. So, I really could not fathom why he won.

But before you raise those brows in disagreement, let me tell you that I'm not barking out of bitterness because Jimmy lost. Actually, I myself don't believe Jimmy should have won if his performance that night alone was the basis. Jimmy's rendition of "The Power of Love" was not convincing enough because he did not really hit the high notes. Performance-wise, he was mediocre that night. I do not know why. Honestly, if I were to rank their performances, I would say Tata deserved to win, because she blended well with Gary Valenciano for a duet of Whitney Houston's "Didn't We Almost Had It All." Then she delivered a splendid rendition of "Somewhere" in round three that I would agree with direk Rowell Santiago's observation that Tata was the "biggest surprise" that night. If I may borrow a Tagalog phrase to describe Tata's performance, I would say: "Nagmarka talaga." It made an impact; she really captured the moment. So, for me Tata was the winner that night, and Jimmy would definitely be first runner-up.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not putting Jimmy down, but I'm just being honest with my observation. After all, when you want to help someone improve his craft or you really value his growth, you should be direct and frank. Positive praises alone cannot help. Sometimes they are meant to simply flatter us. Because Jimmy is a friend and thus, dear to me, I should be honest with my feelings as far as his performance was concerned. I campaigned for Jimmy and in fact, gave him the needed publicity in "Banat Hugyaw" because I really believed in his talent. Agot Isidro's comment before that Jimmy "owns the stage" was definitely true. He is such a performer so I want to see him reign high in the music world soon. His success, after all, would be my joy too because we are both Josenians, being MassCom graduates of University of San Jose-Recoletos; we're both Cebuanos; and most important of all, we're both gays. It is just that in every contest or endeavor for that matter, there is always what you call the "right moment to shine." Sad to say, it was not Jimmy's right moment. But hey, there's still a long way to go. Agot was right again when in her parting statement she told Jimmy to "go the distance."

But then again I can't just play deaf to earlier rumors that from the start, ABS-CBN, particularly the big bosses of Star Records, was already eyeing Kris for the top plum. This due to their desperate need for a counterpart of R&B Prince Jay-R who is a prized possession of rival Kapuso network. Interestingly, Jay-R and Kris are really good friends. The former convinced the latter to come to the Philippines and try his luck. In fact, when the Cebu press asked Jay-R during a presscon at SM City Cebu two weeks ago on what he thought were the chances of Kris in the final showdown, his immediate response was "He would win." Such certainty left me asking myself, was the rumor about ABS-CBN favoring Kris really true? It's obvious that the Kapamilya network badly needed someone who could be the next R&B prince, as evidenced by their reported efforts to pirate Jay-R.

Jay-R is very in demand and popular these days, his singles are selling like hot cakes and has commercial endorsements left and right. The R&B prince is indeed giving competitors a run of their money. Remember that rumor last year that Jay-R was jumping ship to ABS-CBN? His response in our recent interview with him was "ah, intriga lang po yon." It was indeed because his contract with GMA Artist Center is expiring on 2007. So if they cannot have Jay-R, why not build up someone to challenge him? Clever idea, after all.

However, with the recent SIAM results, it seems ABS-CBN has not learned its lesson yet. Take Christian Bautista and our very own Sheryn Regis, for example, both of whom Erik Santos defeated in the first SIAM contest. Christian is most recently honored with the title "Asia's Pop Idol" after successfully capturing the hearts of our Asian neighbors via his song "The Way You Look At Me," the carrier single of his first album called "Colours Everywhere." And I'd say next to Christian, Sheryn is most popular and successful. And so where's Erik Santos now? Yes he is visible on TV, but is he as hot a commodity as Christian and Sheryn? Never! The problem with ABS-CBN is that they appear to be after the looks rather than the talent. If I have my way I would rather have a newcomer oozing with potentials than having someone endowed with looks, but lacking in talent. What is the use of cosmetic surgery if we always go after the beautiful and the handsome?

The decision is well, final and irrevocable. So, let me just repeat my favorite line, which I have been saying in my previous columns: everything happens for a reason. When we fail it does not mean we are not good, but rather because God has bigger, brighter and better plans for us all. To Jimmy, I say: "Go the distance." As what I told you last week through text, whatever happens you are a winner to me and that Cebuanos are so proud of you. Good luck! Catch Jimmy Marquez tomorrow at Metro Gaisano stores.

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