Nora Aunor, BTS & Paul McCartney make headlines

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star

Bring out the laurel wreath. Nora Aunor, the Superstar is now a National Artist in the category of Film and Broadcast Arts. She is the first actress and big motion picture and television star to be conferred the honor. This is like bridging that huge gap between phenomenal success and exalted artistry. She did it and I cannot think of anyone more deserving. Can you?

Every time something like this happens to Aunor, I cannot help but think about her singing career. Before Himala and The Flor Contemplacion Story and Minsan May Isang Gamo-gamo and all those acclaimed films happened, there was Nora Aunor, the singer. The puny 14-year-old girl from Bicol came to Manila riding on her extraordinary singing voice.

That was how she started. She was a contesera in the barrio entablados in the province. Then, she joined the Tawag ng Tanghalan, a nationwide amateur singing contest on television and emerged Grand Champion. Nora’s sweet torchy tones could sing anything. Moonlight Becomes You and Tindera, Handog and The Music Played, etc., etc.

If you want more proof, just listen to her take on Pearly Shells. It was an inane novelty tune but she sang it like she meant it and got everybody going Hawaiian. I remember Willy Cruz telling me that “Good singers make good actors,” while we were watching Nora record a simple tune that would later become memorable. No wonder, she did become a great actor.

It is unfortunate that Nora had to stop singing. I do hope she recovers her voice. Still, I am happy that she got the National Artist Award. This, after all, is the highest honor that this country can bestow on an artist.

In Nora’s case, I like to think that it encompasses everything, acting, singing, producing, I mean everything including her being a most intriguing, fascinating and unforgettable human being. Maybe we can now describe her as GOAT, the greatest of all time.

Also from the headlines. The Army is in uproar. BTS is off to temporary retirement. After over 10 years, the boys of BTS are taking time off from their careers. Which is just as well. Being in a boy band is one of the most confining situations ever.

This is loss of independence at the most exciting time of a young man’s life. For the most part, it has been do this, don’t do that for these boys for more than a decade. Sing like this, dance like this, don’t talk like that, etc., etc. because being BTS is big business.

In fact, shares of their management company HYBE dropped 25 percent and erased almost two trillion won from its market value on the day that the hiatus announcement came out. To stabilize the investors, HYBE countered that BTS will not really be absent but will be doing other things.

Whatever. I am glad that these boys are taking time out. Whether the reason is to go solo, to rest from exhaustion, to do compulsory military service or to date and find a girlfriend, they should do this now. Anyway, there is that new album Proof to enjoy while they are gone.

Big news, too, is that Paul McCartney turned 80 years old last June 18. And I think. How can this happen? Wasn’t it not too long ago when he was a mop-topped cutie singing Yesterday. Now that is indeed yesterday. I am sad that time does not stop moving. Yet, I am also glad McCartney is still around, fit and healthy and making music.

McCartney has a Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II and is the most successful songwriter of all time. He has sold over 600 million records as a Beatle and over a hundred million as a solo act or with Wings. He is probably worth a billion or two. Not bad for a kid from a working-class neighborhood in Liverpool.

Not bad for us, too. Can you imagine what our lives would have been like without Hey Jude, Across the Universe, And I Love Her, Blackbird, Carry That Weight, Do You Want to Know a Secret, Eleanor Rigby, The Fool on the Hill, Here There and Everywhere, In My Life… etc., etc.

“There are places I’ll remember all my life/ though some have changed/ some forever, not for better/ some have gone and some remain/ all these places have their moments/ with lovers and friends I still can recall/ some are dead and some are living/ in my life I’ve loved them all.”

Happy birthday, Sir Paul.


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