The unsinkable Pilita Corrales
Dot Ramos Balasbas-Gancayco (The Philippine Star) - April 1, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Coming to our appointed interview at 3 p.m. at the EDSA Shangri-La, where Pilita Corrales was going to have a show in the later part of the afternoon, she confidently strutted into Cafe Provencal in her four-inch stiletto heels and above-the-knee red dress that hugged her slim-as-a-30-year-old’s body. Her big brown hair and gorgeous legs still managed to make heads turn, while her Spanish mestiza face with those twinkling eyes and endearing wide smile captivated every person in the room. I found all these just fascinating considering her age (which I managed to estimate by doing mental mathematics). That is, before I saw her perform live an hour and a half later.

To my and everyone else’s unexpected delight, she was not only young-looking and defied gravity. She also repudiated all laws of nature when she sang with a still very beautiful voice, swayed her hips so sexily, did the only-Pilita-can-do backward bends and dips, jumped from the stage (scaring all of us in the audience), and landing gracefully on the floor, to ask a guest to sing with her the Cebuano song Usahay, and then, after her show, ran like a teenager (still in those four-inch stiletto heels) to a woman on wheelchair, obviously a long-time fan, to say hello.

On April 6, Pilita will be the guest singer of Julio Iglesias (below) in a dinner benefit show at the Manila Hotel.

On her way back to the restaurant to finish our interview, she obliged every single one who wanted to take photos of her, and inquired of her future shows. Pilita is not only amazing.

 She has remained humble and friendly, despite her achievements: The first female artist to top the Australian pop music charts (way before Helen Reddy, Olivia Newton-John and Kylie Minogue), becoming a gem in Australian television (for which reason a street in Australia was named after her), the first Filipina to ever perform at the Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, winning as Best TV Female Performer, the numerous Cecil, Aliw, Tinig and Awit Awards, all those lifetime achievement awards, and countless accolades showered on her all these years.

Up to this very day, Pilita is very much in demand not only locally but in the whole of Asia, Australia, North America and the Middle East. She is also busy taping for the weekly Vampire ang Daddy Ko on GMA 7. And, wonderful news for those who have not seen Pilita in a long, long time, she is the guest singer of no less than Julio Iglesias for his dinner benefit show on April 6 at the Manila Hotel Tent City (for details, call 527-0011 or 0917-5369047).

I had the good fortune of meeting Pilita way back in the early ’80s, when she was among the principal sponsors at a wedding held in Sacred Heart Parish Church. Back then, she went out of her way and took the time to give me, a humble wedding singer, some encouraging tips. Although I went on to become a lawyer, her advice made its mark and I pursued my musical interest seriously on the side. More than 30 years later, I am inspired again by her words of wisdom I share with all the young singers of today. 

For those who are aspiring to be singers, Pilita says you have to focus. Once you decide to be a performer, give your heart and soul into performing. Serious singers should also learn professionalism. Do not drink, do not smoke and sleep early to rest your voice. Follow what is in the contract. For those already popular singers, if they want to stay on for a long time in show business, Pilita readily shares that they should not be there just to sing because there are so many other excellent singers around. One has to be different, Pilita says. You also have to make your audience laugh. You have to make your audience feel your songs. You should adjust songs to what your audience would enjoy so be ready to change your repertoire all the time. You should be good to your audience and to your clients because you are nothing without them.

I asked Pilita how she manages to look young and beautiful at her age, which number is far, far away from how she actually looks, and here are her answers: 1. She loves what she is doing; 2. She does not dwell on problems and maintains a happy attitude by focusing on the important people in her life — her husband (a South American who lived in Australia for 39 years who is now based in Coron, Palawan), her children and grandchildren.  The attitude of a person does so much for his or her skin and the heart, Pilita says. And if there is a problem, always think that there is a tomorrow. So laugh! Be kind and nice to people. 3. She eats fruits and vegetables. 4. She walks 30 minutes every day. 5. She takes grape juice instead of soft drinks. 

The insights I learned from my second personal encounter with Pilita are valuable lessons in life that I will never forget. She is, indeed, incredible, incomparable and inspiring! 

(E-mail me at dotgancayco@ymail.com or text 0927-5000833.)

ALTHOUGH I CAFE PROVENCAL DADDY KO FEMALE PERFORMER HELEN REDDY JULIO IGLESIAS LAS VEGAS MANILA HOTEL PILITA
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