Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Nostalgia in concert as GMA International celebrates 10th anniversary

Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. and wife Eleanor de Leon appear to be enjoying the songs of Christian Bautista. Photo by Boyet Loverita

It was a humid summer day as I was getting ready for Kapusong Pinoy sa New York, a concert presented on September 5 by GMA Network Inc. to celebrate their 10th anniversary of broadcasting news and entertainment in the U.S.

I’m not particularly a fan of television shows but it has always intrigued me how my girlfriends bond as they talk about the telenovelas they’ve seen. Discussing the plot, characters and possible endings seem to bring them so much joy and shared satisfaction. Sometimes I feel like an outsider as they talk about the actors, actresses and entertainment shows that I don’t know about. I didn’t have any Filipino channels at that time so I couldn’t contribute to their lively conversations.

When my mother came to live with me, I had to add TFC and GMA Pinoy TV to my cable package, to make her feel like she’s still at home in this foreign country. And so began my re-education as I caught glimpses of the new generation of movie stars, entertainers, telenovelas and re-acquainted myself with the celebrities that I used to know back in the day.

The Town Hall was buzzing with activity. There was a lively crowd outside as people waited in line for families and friends to join them. Excitement was in the air. My mother was with me and I couldn’t help but share in her thrill of being able to glimpse her favorite GMA stars.

People just kept streaming into the concert theater where Spanish cellist Pablo Casals, Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov, and Billie Holiday, just to name a few musical legends, had performed. The concert appeared to be a ‘sold-out’ success judging by the crowd that packed the auditorium, some dressed in their formal attire, others in casual shorts and sneakers.

The program opened with a pre-show appetizer that kept the crowd pumped up. The opening acts were a revelation, featuring a new generation of talents ready to take over the music scene. Elaine Ficarra was the youngest singer at 14. As the first entertainer of the night she was greeted warmly. The lovely Sanagustin sisters Melissa, Marvee and Monica were a triple treat as they belted out Gloria Gaynor’s popular anthem, “I Will Survive.” The lively beat energized the house.

Rianne Avendula was amazing and confident, singing two songs with passion. And the sultry Angel Ram brought down the house with her haunting rendition of “At Last.” And that’s just for starters.

Then came the main event. The appearance of Dingdong Dantes, Ai-Ai de las Alas, Julie Anne San Jose, Christian Bautista, Betong Sumaya and Rita Daniela brought the adoring fans to their feet, and the cheers continued. The stars charmed and sang their tunes, danced, joked and kept everybody entertained all throughout the night. They did not disappoint. Ai-Ai’s song with the multicolored lights on her costume was a surprise. What a night!

The intermission brought us Gail Banawis who regaled the audience with an endearing musical number. Gail, for those who may not know, sang the Philippine National Anthem in Las Vegas with the Singing Pastors of the Word Choir during the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. It was truly an evening overflowing with Filipino musical talent.

The large crowd made me think of my siblings and their families back home. They would have loved this show. Big Filipino gatherings like this make me nostalgic and remind me of the sacrifices we make for ourselves and our families every day. For a few hours entertainers held our attention with memorable numbers and kept us screaming for more. —The FilAm

Bronx resident Lindy Rosales is a registered nurse who works for the New York City Health and Hospital Corp. She calls herself a member of the ‘sandwich generation,’ having two adult children — a son in California and a daughter in Maryland – while sharing a home with her mother.

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