"I Wanna be a Star!" or Idol Filipino Style

It was as cheesy, loud and quirky as one might expect an “Idol” talent show in a Filipino province to be. There was fist pounding, “reaching for the stars” and all kinds of gestures which were probably learned from Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey concerts. The judges, it appeared were looking for the loudest and most passionate act and so, the girl who sang loudest and broke into tears during her performance won.

In an “only-in-the-Philippines” kinda way I somehow found myself with a few new friends, who I made at my seminar in Tacloban, shooting backstage (and front) at the finals of Leyte province version of “Idol” talent show. It was weird and totally surreal. The contrast between where I’d been (rural Philippines) and being backstage at “Idol” was something that I never would have imagined, but hey “Why not, right?”.

I guess this “Idol” thing is the result of young Filipino boys and girls taking their Karaoke very seriously. Despite my cynicism and sarcasm, there were some really talented young people on stage, but I just cannot get past being cynical, even a little sad that the whole world is copying the format of a show the main purpose of which is to please the masses and to “create” artists who end up churning out shit music. Oh well, call me idealistic.

Nevertheless, I had fun. Lots of fun. There was a really exciting, happy vibe in the air. Lots of energy and expectations of something big to happen. It all also seemed much more innocent than “Show business” in the “West”. After all, many of the people involved were volunteering their time, doing it because they love music and want their youth to succeed. It was kinda like “Idol-home-made-style”. One of the male performers was wearing a suit that was being held with a clip at the back because it was too big (probably his father’s). This perfectly exemplified just how “home-made” the whole thing was and to be honest, sometimes that has much more soul than the crap we see on TVs in the U.S. and other "developed" countries.

Something pretty big did happen in the end. The winner got 200,000 Pesos (a bit under US$5000) while the runners up got 100,000 (2nd place) and 50,000 (3rd place). This is pretty damn good money in the Philippines, so the winners were very happy.

Ok, so I am now back in Puerto Galera. I left my motorcycle here, as I didn’t want to ride through a fairly large part of the Philippines too quickly. Tanya and I are hopping on the bike tomorrow and we’re off to see some volcanoes, then we’ll make our way back to the place where my seminar took place, Tacloban.

Oh, yeh, about the seminar. It went rather well. I really don’t know whether those who attended got much out of it, since there wasn’t much interaction as far as questions went, but I have been assured it’s because the Filipinos are shy. Well, I had a good time, everyone was great and I made new friends along the way. What more can one ask for?