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Charice Manny

Meet Philippine tourism ambassador Charice

Nelson Alcantara  May 07, 2011

MAKATI, Philippines (TheNelsonFiles.Com) — When a little 16-year-old opened her mouth to sing in a 2009 episode of THE Oprah Winfrey Show, the world literally stood still and paid attention. Fast-forward a few months after that episode, she once again returned to the Oprah Show to sing, but more importantly, to be personally invited by Celine Dion to sing with her during the New York stop of her then-ongoing world tour at Madison Square Garden. That stint led to many other opportunities, but the most significant of which is a recording contract with US-based Reprise Records. Her self-titled album was released in May 2010 and placed Charice in global music history - the album entered the Billboard 200 at number eight, making Charice the first and only Asian singer in music history to land in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 album. She reportedly sold over 75,000 of her albums in its first week of release.

Charice’s debut CD was met with a mixed bag of rants and raves. Critically, the album was bashed for lacking focus — what kind of an artist is Charice? The album contained songs penned and produced by legendary artists, but in today’s electro-pop and auto tune-centric music world, consumers are more interested in the gimmickry of Lady Gaga’s disposable music than purchasing music that they could listen to ten years from now without asking the question: I listened to this crap? Ultimately, music is subjective, but for those who want to be objective, might I suggest listening to Charice’s “All I Need to Survive” ( ) and compare it to any Lady Gaga song. The Black Eyed Peas once lamented “Doesn’t anybody listen to real music anymore?” in their album Elephunk. But, just like any artist or band, the ultimate goal is to stay relevant, hence the Black Eyed Peas’decision to rid themselves of “real music” and jump on the eletro-pop bandwagon with their last two albums called “The E.N.D” and “The Beginning.” The group’s rip of the song “The Time of My Life” is a major dis on the original version, which, by the group’s own standard is “real music.”

Back on Charice - she is arguably the second most popular contemporary Filipino entertainment figure in the world (second only to boxer Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao.) By default, this makes Charice the ideal Philippine tourism ambassador. A little research on a website called proves that Charice has global fans that are showing up at her performances — be it all over the US, Canada, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines. Her album launching in Canada alone drew such a massive crowd that she quickly became a trending topic on and Charice’s musical ability is so vast that she has playfully mimicked the voices of many of today’s top-selling musical artists like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Beyonce, then can easily flip the switch to serious mode and take on songs by musical legends like Whitney Houston and Celine Dion with ease.

And add to that, Charice has had two appearances in one of the world’s most popular shows at the moment — Glee, but not without a little controversy. It can be construed that the part that Charice plays on the hit TV show was never really planned. To be perfectly honest, it seems that her presence on the show is a favor returned to Oprah for featuring the entire Glee cast on her show. Connect the dots: There was never a casting call for a “Filipino exchange student.” Charice’s management meticulously planted the idea of Charice being on Glee, sparking Twitterverse to speculate as to if and when the singer was going to be in the show. This subsequently left the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, to “listen” to Charice. There was no real audition. Murphy liked what he heard, so the writers figured out how to write a part for her. It was probably meant to be a one-time guest appearance.

But, Charice’s rabid fans wouldn’t have it. They wanted her story expanded, which brought a conflict to the cast, because therein lies the rub — Charice can outsing any of them! To add to the dilemma, 18-year-old Charice, with the exception of Chris Colfer (who is 20 years old), is really the closest to being a believable high school student than any of the current “high school” students in the cast. Here is the real age breakdown for the characters:

Mark Sailing(28)
Kevin McHale(22)
Lea Michel(24)
Diana Aragon(24)
Jenna Ushkowitz(24)
Amber Riley(25)
Cory Monteith(28)

Charice being on the show forces the show’s creators to face the inevitable: how do we move the story along? Surely they know that even the most avid fans will soon realize that the characters can’t come back every year, playing the same age — the dumb school quarterback, who I assumed was a senior in the first season, as were the lead cheerleaders - because in the US high school system, those parts are for seniors, as in graduating THAT year. Are we to assume that everyone from season one flunked their year at William McKinley High School to be able to come back and be at the same grade level? Completely unrealistic. And based on recent episodes, the show seems on a steady decline and has completely gone on self-destruct mode with more ridiculous plots. The “dumb quarterback" who thought he could impregnate a woman by sharing a bath together plot and the equally absurd faked pregnancy were forgivable because people paid attention to the musical parodies. They worked in season one. But, the honeymoon is over, kids!Stunt-casting and impossible plots including Sue Sylvester’s I-wanna-destroy-the-Glee-club plot are just not working anymore.

There is a silver lining for the show, however. The show can be saved. Take this from someone who was a part of a “sort” of a Glee club from a Hawaii high school. I will not spill the details here, but if the show is looking at longevity, it better be pulling some feasible plots soon. The novelty is getting old. The musical parodies, while, a breath of fresh air from those pervasive singing competitions in season one are also getting OLD, just like the show’s characters.

On the show, many people have slammed Charice for her below par acting. My advice: don’t be so hard on the girl; she’s just being thrown into the machinery that is called pop culture. Her forte is music, and she is a great singer at that. However, don’t expect a “Meryl Streep” out of her - not from her, or any of the actors from Glee, for that matter.

So, support or not (as most Filipinos in the US have), Charice is here to stay. And, fortunately (or unfortunately) for her, she is now a face associated with the Philippines, and that is the numero uno requirement for a tourism ambassador. You can catch her this weekend in Las Vegas where she is slated to sing the Philippine National Anthem, Lupang Hinirang, before the Manny Pacquiao versus Shane Mosley boxing match at the MGM Grand. If you are Filipino and feeling mighty patriotic, I suppose the color of the day on Sunday will be yellow. Even “friends” of Filipinos or fans of either Charice or Manny are urged to show their support by wearing something yellow. But, I’m sure this is not required if you happen to attend the fight.

Separately, I recently bought a copy of her duet with fellow YouTube phenom Greyson Chance called “Walking Outside the Lines.” The song runs along the same line as the inappropriate choice for Glee’s creators to have Charice sing the ubiquitous Eric Carmen original, “All By Myself,” on a recent episode of Glee. These songs are meant for older and mature artists, as these songs are about life lessons that one can only manage to convey and relate to through age. Both of these artists are in their teens. Let these kids be kids and stop having them offer life lessons through songs! Might I suggest having Charice sing a song called “Next in Line” ( )? The song makes more sense for her because it is age-appropriate. Read the below lyrics for yourself:

“What has life to offer me when I grow old?
What's there to look forward to beyond the biting cold?
They say it's difficult, yes, stereotypical.

What's there beyond sleep, eat, work in this cruel life?
Ain't there nothin' else 'round here but human strife,
'Cause they say it's difficult, yes, stereotypical,
Gotta be conventional, you can't be so radical.

So I sing this song to all of my age
For these are the questions we've got to face
For in this cycle that we call life
We are the ones who are next in line,
We are next in line.

What has life to offer me when I grow old?
What's there to look forward to beyond the biting cold,
'Cause they say it's difficult, yes, stereotypical,
Gotta be conventional, you can't be so radical.

So I sing this song to all of my age
For these are the questions we've got to face
For in this cycle that we call life
We are the ones who are next in line,
We are next in line;
Oh-hoh, we are next in line.

And we gotta work, we gotta feel (we gotta feel).
Let's open our eyes and do whatever it takes.
We gotta work, we gotta feel (we gotta feel).

Let's open our eyes, oh-woh

And sing this song to all of our age
For these are the questions we've got to face
For in this cycle that we call life
We are the ones who are next in line.

Sing this song for me,
Sing this song for me.”

Now, the above song’s lyrics make a whole lot more sense that what she’s been forced to sing thus far! It’s almost unforgivable that Glee creators made her sing “All By Myself,” because it was just so very inappropriate - “When I was young, I never needed anyone. And making love was just for fun.” What were they thinking? If they had altered the lyrics to “and making friends was just for fun,” that would have been more apt.

Meet Philippine tourism ambassador Charice
Charice seen here during the inauguration of President Benigno Aquino

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