What keeps Arnel grounded
DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda (The Philippine Star) - June 18, 2013 - 12:00am

It’s always a pleasure to sit down and interview Arnel Pineda because he’s one of those rare celebrities who, in spite of being an international star, has always treasured his Filipino roots.

Although he spent the last few years touring the world as part of Journey, he has stayed true to who he is, which is basically an ordinary boy who grew up amid a tough life in Sampaloc, Manila before hitting it big as a singer when he was picked to be part of Journey. I guess it’s precisely this that keeps Arnel grounded.

“I’ve been through a lot, so there’s also a lot I have to be thankful for,” he said during the recent launching of Puregold’s new jingle for its 10th anniversary campaign. Arnel was tapped to sing the theme song, titled TENkyu, which salutes and celebrates the success of the sari-sari store owners, carinderia owners and wholesalers who are part of Puregold’s Tindahan ni Aling Puring, a program that mobilizes small entrepreneurs who contribute a major part to the dream of better lives for millions of Filipinos. Arnel sang the theme song in flawless Filipino, and if you listen to it, you’ll find yourself admiring how much of a Pinoy he remains even after his worldwide success.

Arnel said that even if he’s constantly traveling the world, the Philippines and Filipinos remain a big part of who he is. It’s always a thrill to watch him onstage performing with Journey, and he is the only Asian among that group of Caucasians. It seems incredible and unbelievable, but it’s true — and Arnel knows that whenever he goes abroad to perform, he carries on his shoulders the dreams of his countrymen, inspiring them and delivering the message that yes, it is possible for a Filipino artist to make it on the world stage. But the best part is when he comes back, he is one of them again and thinks and behaves like a true-blooded Pinoy right down to the way he speaks.

“Kapag nandito ako sa Pinas, nakakalimutan ko mag-English,” he told reporters present at the Puregold launching. “Kaya napakalapit sa puso ko ng lyrics at melody ng kanta.”

Many people may not realize it, but Arnel is the perfect person to be part of such a campaign because while he never may have owned a sari-sari store, he came from humble beginnings. He is a living testament to what hard work, determination and faith in God can do to achieve one’s dreams. And each time he is interviewed, he is not afraid to tell people the challenges he has faced and how many times he has failed before he succeeded. All this is an integral part of his story. “Hindi ko naman itinatago ‘yon,” he said. In fact, he remembers that before rising to fame as part of Journey, he once accepted small gigs and would augment his talent fees by selling cooked food with his wife. Arnel recounted: “Madalas, uuwi kami ng madaling araw galing sa gig, pero bago ako umuwi, bibili ako ng karne na pang kare-kare tapos lulutuin namin at ilalako sa may Balintawak.” Even way before that, he learned how to survive by figuring out ways to earn money for himself and his family. The singing, he said, came much later.

Singing the theme song of Puregold’s 10th anniversary campaign is not the only way that Arnel pays tribute to his humble beginnings. In fact, he has put up a foundation that reaches out to underprivileged children and tries to provide them with quality education, health services and medical attention.

Arnel has really come a long way from those small gigs in pizza parlors and for him; those humble gigs serve to remind him of where he came from and who he was before all this success. It’s a story that will never stop inspiring, and one that we will, as the song goes, “Never stop believing.”

Rock of Ages to be re-staged

Last year’s biggest theatrical party, Atlantis Productions’ Rock of Ages, is all set to rock Manila once again for a limited repeat run in July.  

Rock of Ages is the hit Broadway musical featuring beloved rock songs from the ‘80s like We Built This City, Can’t Fight This Feeling, Wanted Dead Or Alive, Don’t Stop Believin, More Than Words and Every Rose Has Its Thorn. It tells the story of two young people — Drew and Sherrie — who hit the Sunset Strip armed with nothing but their dreams. Along the way, they meet a colorful array of wild and raunchy characters and find their blossoming love threatened by the rock star, Stacee Jaxx.

The powerhouse cast led by MiG Ayesa, Nyoy Volante and Vina Morales who play Stacee, Drew and Sherrie, respectively, will set the stage ablaze once more along with Aiza Seguerra (in her Aliw award-winning performance), Jett Pangan, Calvin Millado, Jamie Wilson and Bibo Reyes. Adding a new punch to the pack is one of the country’s finest singers, Rachel Alejandro who steps into the shoes of Justice Charlier.

Rachel has appeared on stage almost exclusively with Atlantis over the last decade creating memorable roles in Rent (Manila and Singapore), Avenue Q (Manila and Singapore), Xanada and Aida. On joining Rock of Ages, Rachel says, “I’m in love with ‘80s rock music so I was so excited when Atlantis asked me to be part of the cast of the 2012 run. Unfortunately, I moved to New York for almost a year and had to give up the show. When direk Chari Arespacochaga asked me to be part of the repeat, I jumped at the opportunity. It’s such a fun show and I know for a fact that my castmates are a riot. I am so looking forward to it all!”  

Chari says, “Rachel is truly one of our favorite actresses to work with. A genuine pro, she is obsessively committed to perfection. She also completely understands this genre. I am very happy to have her in the show and look forward to the Justice that she will create.”  

Rock of Ages runs at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium from July 12 to 28. Limited show-buying and fund-raising opportunities are still available. Tickets are also on sale now. For details, call Atlantis Productions at 892-7078.


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