Anna's life according to her hair
Bibsy M. Carballo (The Philippine Star) - September 7, 2009 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - It doesn’t really come as a surprise to us that Anna Fegi’s landmarks in life would be marked with a change of hairstyle. She of the amazing vocal cords and the big head of naturally frizzy hair told us that when faced with a big decision in life she once shaved her head.

This was around 1998 when back from a tour with the Smokey Mountain and a stint with the musical Hair in Japan, she found herself back home in Cebu bored. Performing before an international crowd always energized her. She had this chance even as a teenager with her school San Jose Recoletos which received invitations abroad, and with an uncle’s band in Malaysia.

But the Japan experience so emboldened her to quit her schooling and try her luck in Manila. That is when she shaved off her curly locks. It was not an easy decision to arrive at. She had to get the approval of parents and teachers; didn’t know a soul in Manila outside of a calling card of Ayi Magpayo, a director for corporate events she met at a mall show in Cebu. But she was determined.

Upon arrival in Manila, Anna called Ayi who referred her to us. We spent a year honing her raw talents through regular puestos with a band, solo shows with the late musical genius Toti Fuentes and soon she was ready for the big time. Her big hair had also grown back.

A few days ago we got a call from Anna asking us to visit her in Cebu. So much has happened in the interim. After taking Manila by storm, joining Asap, BMG recording, doing theater, having several boyfriends, joining Disneyland Hong Kong and meeting fire dancer Micah there, her first serious relationship, moving on to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines as the first female Filipino solo entertainer doing production and headliner shows (Raul Laurente is male counterpart), breaking up with Micah, returning to Cebu, Anna is once again bored. We were not sure what to expect.

She met us at the airport, her frizzy hair gone, the long curly locks rebonded. We knew she was again in the midst of a crisis. Just a few days ago, she tells us, she and Japanese-Hawaiian Micah we liked a lot are back together after eight months of estrangement. He now works for Cirque du Soleil as fire knife dancer. She has the option to accept another tour with Royal Caribbean in 2010, try her luck in the US, or build a home in Cebu from the money she has saved. “Can you imagine,” she remarks, “all this time I’ve been working and making all that money and I have nothing to show for it?”

She felt the need to go back to her roots to help make her decisions. Together with Anna’s good friend Jenny Santos, we decide to do a road trip to that little hilly barangay in Toledo City called Lutopan, 44 km from Cebu City more than an hour away.

Lutopan was home to Atlas Mining which was the largest copper mine in Southeast Asia for almost 40 years until closed down by a devastating storm of 1994 followed by a slump in copper prices in the world market. At its height, the mine paid the National government P634-M in taxes, and P11-M a year to the Toledo City government. It employed 12,000 residents, had a hospital facility comparable to that of Cebu City, subsidized a secondary school, provided its employees housing.

It was to these memories that Anna returned to in Lutopan — the old house the family stayed in for free since both parents worked in the school; a chance encounter with Fanny Reyes, Anna’s teacher in Filipino and now still in the school as principal of all levels from pre-school to high school; a visit to the school where she relived some of the best times of her life.

We are told the school never closed even if the mines and the hospital did. Principal Reyes recalls how the teachers and the administration decided to keep the school alive for 13 years, opening up registration to outsiders. It is now known as the Don Andres Soriano de la Salle supervised private school.

After settlement of realty taxes through a compromise agreement with the city government in cash, shares, and real estate, the mines have returned to Lutopan through the Carmen Copper Corporation (Carmen is the wife of Don Andres Soriano). There is expectation that prosperity will similarly return to the town. But at the moment these developments do not interest Anna as she stands on the auditorium stage where during an inter-school competition, she recalls singing Narito Ako and experiencing someone asking for her autograph.

Feeling nostalgic one Christmas after the family had moved to Cebu City and Anna was already based in Manila, she felt the need to return. She proposed to the school administration that she would donate her services for a concert if her entire family would be allowed to spend Christmas there. The Home Economics fixed its facilities into an impromptu apartment, the concert generated funds for the school and the church, and Anna’s family spent one of the best bonding Christmases they ever had.

But now, it was time for her future as we motored to the new subdivision close to downtown Cebu City. She checked out the unit and after an overseas call to boyfriend Micah in New York, decided they were getting the house. There was a gleam in her eye as she confessed having learned from past mistakes. All her savings would go into the property. But then again, she continues, I will never give up my dreams. Singing is like my air. I breathe it...so I see myself being in the music field till I die.”

Sensing we wanted to know more, Anna continues.“ Marriage? I’m not focusing on that yet. I am happy with my personal life. It will happen at the right time when it has to happen.” And pointing to the tiny curls beginning to sprout around her face, “my curls are coming back. It will all be back in a year.”

(E-mail the author at bibsycarballo@yahoo.com)

ANNA ANNA FEGI ATLAS MINING CEBU CEBU CITY DON ANDRES SORIANO LUTOPAN SCHOOL TOLEDO CITY
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