Arnel enjoys life on the road
Jerry Donato (The Philippine Star) - October 11, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - It has been quite a journey for Arnel Pineda being the lead vocalist of the American iconic band Journey. For the past eight years, he has never faltered hitting high notes and never stopped hitting the road. Journey and Arnel show no signs of slowing down, performing before huge crowds in packed arenas.

“My international gigs are doing just fine,” says Arnel. “We just finished around 55 gigs this year. We toured around the US and Canada. We’re on a break now. Next year, we’ll be back on tour doing shows. I’m committed to them for 120 shows in two years. This is (our) journey. It’s a life on the road. We’re talking about state after state. It’s like touring from one country after another. Every night, we are on a private plane. The next day, we’re off for a show.”

When off the road, Arnel is spending quality time with his family in Manila and touching base with Filipino fans. He would appear on ABS-CBN shows like ASAP 20 and It’s Showtime and continue recording songs for an upcoming album, which will be released soon.

“I’ve been doing it for one and a half years,” Arnel gives fans an update on the album. “I couldn’t find time for it. (The only time I have is) in between family and my job with Journey. I have a Christmas song and a slow song. They are all my compositions. (As for a solo career?) Our guitarist and keyboard player have their solo careers, as well our bass and drum players. But each of us is not allowed to perform a Journey song. Our agreement is a gentleman’s agreement. I’ve been with the band for eight years and we’re going strong. There are plans to do an album.”

Teesha Banta and Christian Lacza, winners of The Search for Winners Against Asthma

Another update is Arnel’s Asian-wide talent search is now on its final touches as a World Music Camp.    

Asked about his rituals in taking care of his voice, Arnel replies, “I rest and no talking is allowed. When I’m there, I don’t talk. It requires me 100-percent vocal rest. I’m 95 percent tahimik. The five percent is devoted to my performance.”

Behind Arnel’s performer image with strong vocals is the story of an asthmatic. This makes him the perfect advocate to fight asthma and overcome it.

“It was induced through allergies,” he recalls. “I’m allergic to molds, cigarette smoke, smog and dust and animals’ hair. Like in the last three shows of our five shows, I had asthma attack because the arenas were moldy and dusty.”

This is Arnel’s second year as Win Against Asthma ambassador. Doing an advocacy is never an unfamiliar territory to him.

“I have a foundation where it caters to street children and entices them to go back to school,” Arnel says. “The street is not a good school for them. They need to go to a proper school. Whenever we have a good budget and we get help from generous donors to secure enough funds, we do medical missions and feeding programs. We also distribute clothes and toys.”

Also part of the advocacy is Teesha Banta, winner of GlaxoSmithKline’s Search for the Winners Against Asthma (SWAA) for the adult category. Christian Lacza, an outstanding public school student, was declared the winner for the youth category. Of the 2,000 applicants, the two were chosen for having shown excellence in their field and resilience in winning over asthma.

“I had my first attack when I was in school. It was Valentine’s Day and my roommate got a bouquet of flowers… The cause was pollen,” recalls Teesha, a  student at St. Luke’s College of Medicine and BS Biology graduate at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. “The worst (thing) that happened to me was having asthma attack during examination week. I couldn’t concentrate for I had difficulty breathing.”

Her condition had become disabling to Teesha, but she never gave up. Following the advice of her mom, Cathy, a family medicine doctor and asthmatic herself, Teesha consulted a specialist and finally managed her asthma.

“I want to tell asthmatics that their condition can be controlled and it should not be asthma controlling them,” Teesha says. “I have overcome it. Compliance with medications is important. My triggers are pollen and change in weather.”

This is the same message that Arnel echoes: “Wag silang masiraan ng loob, there are medicines available (for asthma) and there are doctors asthmatics can trust. The doctors will advise them a proper diet and identify what causes the allergic reaction because there are tests. Marami ng tulong ngayon. Their doctors can give them a regimen.”

Again, asthma should never control one’s life. Teesha now pursues her dream to become a doctor, specializing in pediatric pulmonology, and will use her story to become a more compassionate physician, creating a partnership with patients. Teesha has done advocacies on female reproductive health before joining SWAA.

As for Arnel, he will remain performing with Journey, and the next two years will see him working abroad and back on tour.

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