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H.O.P.E. springs eternal

It’s not often that the back story of a music CD carries as much weight as the music itself, as is the case with the H.O.P.E. (Healing of Pain and Enlightenment) album. A compilation of songs performed by an impressive array of artists like Gary Valenciano, Jose Mari Chan, Jamie Rivera, The CompanY, Toni Gonzaga, Fatima Soriano and Charice Pempengco, to name a few, the CD is the brainchild of the tireless consumer crusader/chemist/businesswoman Pinky Tobiano. A victim of thyroid cancer, Pinky recalled how when she’d be undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, she’d be stuck in a room, waiting for her treatment, and it would be one of the loneliest of experiences. “You’d just be sitting there in complete silence and a thousand and one things are running through your mind, all depressing and making you feel so hopeless. It was during those waiting periods that I wished there was some piped-in music that would somehow soothe, comfort, or at the very least, distract me, and help me push away the morbid thoughts.”

It was with this in mind, and the fact that Pinky’s own mother also recently had to face her own cancer challenge, that Pinky sat down with Anabelle Regalado-Borja of Star Records and conceptualized this CD of music that aims to uplift and “ease the burden.” While cancer awareness and outreach groups like I Can Serve and Bosom Buddies are direct beneficiaries of the CD sales, Pinky and Anabelle agreed that the music also had to stand on its own, a compilation of both upbeat tunes and poignant ballads, while carrying potent messages in the lyrics. Also, they had to be songs whose sentiments would apply across a broad cross-section of troubled people; that it wouldn’t just be music with cancer victims in mind, but music that could help “heal” those suffering from heartbreak, plain loneliness, or whatever.

The CD opens with a short narrative spoken by Pinky, and a solo piano piece by Pinky’s daughter, Pianne. While some of the cuts were generously “donated” by the respective artists from their library of previously recorded material, I especially liked the specially-recorded versions of Kenny Loggins’ Will of the Wind and the Beatles’ In My Life by Jamie Rivera. In My Life was used by my own family a decade ago when both my mother-in-law and mother passed away from cancer within a period of six months. When I introduced Pinky to Annabelle, the one song I mentioned that I’d like to see in the CD was Charlie Chaplin’s Smile. Given a subtle bossa beat, I see it on the CD, interpreted by 15-year-old Charice Pempengco. Yes, this is the same Charice whose YouTube performance caught the attention of Ellen deGeneres, and was invited to perform on Ellen’s show in the US. Listen to this cut and be very surprised to find out it’s a 15-year-old displaying such confident delivery and phrasing.

One other cut that deserves special mention is Umagang Kay Ganda, as sung by the duet of Jasper Manalo and Carissa Cruz. Carissa is the daughter of Gina de Venecia, and currently an undersecretary in the Department of Trade and Industry, while Jasper is a young La Salle student. It’s touches like this that give the CD a very special facet, one that shows how so many people were struck by the CD’s concept and readily enlisted when Pinky called. Even well known business personages, like real-estate developer Joey Antonio, showed support of a different type by being one of the CD’s sponsors.

As I mentioned earlier, Bosom Buddies and I Can Serve are the direct beneficiaries of the sales of the CD. You get an impressive compilation of soothing music and help these cancer awareness groups in the process. We can only thank Pinky for giving us this unique opportunity for spreading Christmas cheer. Besides adding to one’s personal collection, one can also gift friends with a copy.

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