The Journey Begins Catches O’s Eyes
Midway through the neatly stacked documents and paperwork on my “in tray” which had accumulated on my desk due to the extended weekend of “Father’s Day”, a folder with an all too familiar “post-it stick on” stuck on its upper right hand corner caught my eye. Scribbled on the piece of stick on was “Little Girl”. Written on the side tab of the folder were the code “SWMTK” (Search for the World’s Most Talented Kid) and the name Charice Pempengco. As I opened the folder I picked up the phone and asked my secretary to get me Lisa, who was in charge of the “SWMTK” project.
On the first page was Charice’s short and neatly hand written letter thanking me for all the support, advice and opportunities I have been giving her. Memories of this little girl’s life started to flash through my mind and were beginning to moisten my eyes and almost swell up tears when Lisa walked in the door with a smile. “Isn’t she just the sweetest?” Lisa asked as she approached and turned on the wide screen monitor across the couch in my office. "This is part of an interview done by Mr. Boy Abunda, one of the more intelligent talk show hosts in the Philippines, and the sub-title translation have been done here by our Filipino staff," Lisa continued. "There is a summary and recap of the whole interview but I thought it would be better if you saw this edited interview which has a little surprise," Lisa said.
The interview reminded me of the first time I had talked with this little girl and her mother and the very reason that moved me to do something for her even if I had no idea of the industry she was in. And without regrets, I also remember that it has brought me very pleasant experiences like the wonderful reunions with my old friends David Foster and Celine Dion, not to mention the hype this little girl caused among my regular audience.
This is one of those very fulfilling cases where your involvement has participated and significantly contributed to the success of that “rags to riches” story and made dreams come true for someone deserving. What a wonderful feeling it brings when all it took was for you to open the door to bring someone, who, against all odds but with that tenacious drive and will to slug it out in this world to succeed, braves to face the huge mountain of obstacles and takes the chance and walks through that door of opportunity. Even more rewarding is to see that young child you are helping and guiding, take in those beatings and falls but picks up herself and brushes the dust away and keeps taking those steps forward despite the hurt, bruised and wobbly knees. It is truly a joyful experience, not unlike a parent teaching and witnessing her child begin to walk, not to mention the pride and feeling of accomplishment to see her maturing child move up in the material world making good and responsible financial decisions evidenced by the purchase of a modest but very presentable home.
Then the shocking news of an upcoming first solo concert which allowed Charice barely thirty days to prepare for made me look at Lisa with raised eyebrows and an obvious question mark on my face. As if having read my thoughts, Lisa shrugged her shoulders and blurted out, “she didn’t call so I think everything is fine...the last portion of this video clip covers the concert, you’ll see.” As if overcome by angst, I cover my face and peek through the open spaces of my fingers. Lisa had put together a summary of the advertising and promotional efforts for the concert, highlights of which were a few newspaper write up features and very few ABS CBN promotional appearances of Charice on variety and talk shows. All of the endorsements except for the one with Boy Abunda have appeared to be lip service and half hearted “come on” invitations by the hosts and emcees. The obviously unconcerned and “could care less” passing mentions of Charice’s first ever concert in the Philippines, makes me wonder whether Charice is amongst friends or foes. Her presence in these shows were apparently more for the shows' benefit than an opportunity for her to promote and solicit support from her colleagues and co-entertainers. I was not surprised to see a comment that only a handful of local celebrities graced this first concert of Charice. The little girl was not spared the misfortune of the unheard of “no show” by a major headline featured guest of the concert, which would have had serious legal implications and consequences here.
Watching the quagmire of disorganized audience and seating arrangement, I looked at Lisa and once again as if reading my mind, she explains that she’s expecting a call from WB and Charice’s manager to find out who the counter part management team and concert organizers are. "Find out also who’s in charge of the little girl’s costume design and the name of the producers of the show and whether WB has anything to do with this, anything," I added. After this almost an hour video clip, I looked back at the folder and saw the executive summary and overall evaluation of the whole event, Lisa had prepared which included media promotional support, venue capacity and utilization, ticket sales, sponsorships, estimated profit/loss and audience profile and response. The planning and execution seemed to be the best the local Filipino organizers could do given the short lead time however below par. Sales and profit were obviously beyond expectation. Audience turnout was impressive - sold out.
Lisa noted one comment brought out by one of the locals which did not surprise me. Amongst her peers and celebrities of the local entertainment industry, only Mr. Abunda, Karen- host of a local TV show, Dr. Belo and one government official named Golez, showed up in support of the little girl who has done quite a feat for this country in terms of bringing pride, honor, recognition and opportunity. This is less than a handful of those who arrogantly proclaimed they are proud to be Filipino because of what Charice has done and accomplished. Such a glaring contrast to the local industry’s previous fanfare in declaration of their newest hero when Charice first hit the international scene and put the Philippines on the map. Albeit the show of support from the ordinary audience representing Charice’s local fans loudly proclaims a better statement and definitely proves this little girl makes it on her own. Despite all the undermining, Charice has once again emerged victorious and makes me so pleased that I have chosen the right and befitting world’s most talented kid. Congratulations Little Girl, you make me very proud.