Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Journey Home - The Arnel Pineda Story

There exist some staples in expatriate communities worldwide: living beyond ones class, not knowing the native language, wife swapping, kids in international schools, and Filipino cover bands. It was in one of these expatriate communities that a youtube video of a Filipino cover band emerged, and Journey found their new lead singer, Arnel Pineda.

40-year-old Arnel Pineda who performed since he was 13, came from a modest family of tailors living in the Philippines. Arnel's mother passed away when he was a young child and thereafter he had to fend for himself living in utter poverty. Now considered a national hero, Arnel is living the dream of so many Filipinos at home and abroad; it is to be a star.

It seems that showmanship flows through Filipino veins. Be it in a career singing, dancing, acting,...they all want fame. Even incarcerated they will put together a crowd pleaser. I wished I knew the answer as to why. I can, however, speculate on the reasons for the cover band phenomena. Many may not know this, but English along with Tagalog are the national languages of the Philippines. How is this? Well, Spain ceded the Philippines to the U.S. as result of the Spanish-American war and the Philippines remained a protectorate of the U.S. from 1898 to 1946.

Through cultural hegemony, the U.S. subjected Filipinos to American style education. English quickly became the de facto national spoken language. Furthermore, the neo-imperial indoctrination created a colonial mindset where Filipinos looked towards the U.S. as the "mother country" and held its inhabitants in highest regard.

Filipinos that could not go to the “motherland” then created a semblance of the U.S. imagery on Filipino soil. This included embracing all things American and mimicking perceived American culture such as pop music. With this long history and connection with the States, Filipino musicians have had generations to perfect the U.S. musical sounds. Due to supply and demand, many cover bands were exported overseas and have appeared in expatriate communities like the one mentioned above.

So, in some ways it is erroneous to claim Arnel Pineda comes from another world to join the 1980s iconic American band, Journey. The U.S.-Philippines connection was forced long ago and Arnel is simply coming “home”.

Image above is of Arnel Pineda's former band, The Zoo.
Below is a CBS feature of Journey's comeback, highlighting the addition of Arnel Pineda.


Melvis said...

I'm just disappointed I don't hear him singing about "Don't stop beliebing."

That would be the greatest!

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