Adventures of a fan

By Jim Paredes
The Philippine STAR 04/22/2007

I have been in showbiz and a public person more or less for more than three decades now and I have met and worked with many famous people in the local and international scene. Some of them have endured and some were mere flashes in the pan. There are those whose work and presence left a lasting impression. But sometimes, it is the uniqueness of our encounter that has made them unforgettable.

The first international star I met was a big one. In October 1975, I was walking along Rush St. in Chicago with my friend Eddie Munji when, at the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Muhammad Ali and his girlfriend Veronica eating in a small restaurant by the side of the road. Eddie and I quickly approached the door to take a closer look and almost immediately, the waiter put up the CLOSED sign to protect his famous customers. But Ali saw this and he signaled for us to come in and asked the waiter to open the door. We went in and excitedly began to chat with him. In less than a minute, some 25 other people who were outside also recognized him and went in.

When Ali heard we were from Manila, he got quite excited and animated as he talked about his just concluded “Thrilla in Manila” fight with Joe Frazier. He spoke of how difficult that particular fight was and talked and joked a lot about other things. He was truly a showman. Seeing he was so game, I asked him why he was eating in this small restaurant while there was a bigger, more prestigious-looking one on the other side of the street. He looked at me in the eye and said that the spaghetti was only a dollar and eighty cents here. We all burst into laughter.

He then obliged our request for autographs before he walked outside with Veronica to a Volkswagen Beetle parked in front. And as if the night was not as memorable as it already was, his Beetle would not start! We all had to push the car to send him on his way. And as he waved goodbye, we broke into applause.

What a story!

Another really famous person I had a memorable encounter with was Raissa Gorbachev, First Lady to Mikhail who lifted the Iron Curtain and ended the Cold War. It was in the winter of 1990 and I was in Moscow for a conference on the environment that was attended by leading politicians and spiritual leaders of different faiths from all over the world. I was part of a small contingent of artists who somehow got invited to the star-studded event. I saw the Dalai Lama in the conference and shared an elevator with Al Gore.

After the welcome remarks given by Mikhail Gorbachev before the crowd of about 400 delegates, there was a break in the session and everyone went out to mingle and talk. In one corner, I saw Raissa Gorbachev standing practically alone. I rushed towards her to get an autograph but almost immediately, a very smartly dressed group of muscular security men appeared from nowhere to form a cordon sanitaire around her. I didn?t realize that behind me was a throng of people who were also running towards her, and soon enough, they were pressing on me as I pressed on the arms of the security people who were protecting her. The crowd behind kept pushing and soon enough, I broke through the cordon and was pushed towards Raissa. Believe it or not, my forehead hit her head quite hard. We were both stunned and awkwardly stared at each other for a few seconds. When I came to my senses, I pulled out a piece of paper and a pen to signify with the widest, friendliest smile I could muster that I merely wanted an autograph. She looked at me, smiled briefly, and signed her name. And I was politely whisked away.

One of the greatest thrills of my life was spending four days in Sundance, Utah as one of 70 artists invited by Robert Redford and some celebrity environmentalists. When we arrived and settled in the patio to await Robert Redford who was going to address us, we were told politely that we were not to approach him, ask for autographs or pose for pictures. I thought that was quite an unreasonable request considering that it would be our only opportunity to do it. My view was bolstered by an Indonesian artist who needed to have a picture with Redford for his local newspaper that had paid for his ticket to Utah. I gave him my camera and asked him to have it ready and to snap me a nice one after which he would ask the artist-delegate beside him to snap another one for him.

When Redford walked in, he shook hands with everyone within proximity. Luckily I was quite close and I took his hand. And as I introduced myself, I positioned myself for a picture and smiled when I heard the click of the camera. I was so happy and felt a sense of achievement to have succeeded in having a picture taken with him. Soon after, my Indonesian friend came closer to have his turn but just as he approached, Redford was called to the side by the Sundance staff and so he lost his chance. Redford stayed a while longer to give his welcome speech and left soon after. I felt sorry for my Indonesian friend, but I had proof that I met the legendary Robert Redford.

In 1991, I went to Rio de Janeiro to attend the Earth Summit. It was the “We Are the World” of the environmental scene and I felt that I had to be there as one of the founders of the Green Earth Movement in the Philippines. Without knowing anyone in Brazil, I flew halfway across the world and before I knew it, I was hanging out with Brazilian artists and artists of other nationalities. I met Gilberto Gil, who became Brazil’s Minister of Culture, and saw Caetano Veloso, two extremely famous Brazileros, at the summit.

I was invited to perform at the end of one of many meetings going-on at the summit. Since I did not have a guitar with me, I asked my hosts to provide me one. They said that there were other singers there and I could just borrow from them. To my surprise and delight, there was only one other singer there aside from me, and it happened to be a guy whose songwriting I really liked. He was John Denver. What was amazing was after I introduced myself, we sat down and immediately got comfortable, as if we had known each other forever. I could feel that our bond as singer-songwriters who felt strongly about the environmental cause made us bond so naturally. We talked about many things as we waited a good two hours before taking our turns singing. He graciously lent me his guitar but not before he told me that it was a special one given to him that had all the specs he was looking for in a good instrument. You could tell he loved his guitar. I sang ahead and soon after, he came out and did his signature song, I Wanna Live.

I have had the extreme pleasure of spending three days with an author whose works I devoured with pleasure and passion. After I read Conversations With God, I vowed that I would write and ask Neale Donald Walsch to come to the Philippines and give a talk since I felt his message was something people had to hear.

It was unbelievable to sit down with my favorite author and actually discuss his writings. Neale, who has become a friend (enough for him to write a blurb for my third book Writing On Water) is not only a deep, insightful person, he is also funny. He loves to kid around. He is also inspiring and very encouraging of his fellow writers. During one conversation over lunch, he scribbled words on a piece of paper, which he presented to me as possible titles of a book I could write based on phrases I used. He particularly liked my use of the phrase “soul-killing,” which he thought could be half the title of “Soul-killing, Soul Healing,” a future inspirational book.

Once while we were in a car on the way to his hotel, he was quietly reading my second book Between Blinks and he came across passages he liked. He quickly asked for his yellow pad from his wife and wrote a recommendation for my book, which he gave to me to use for future reprints.

Neale is as warm as his writings and as sincere as his soft-spoken voice. I knew I had a real friend in him. Two years after his trip to Manila, my brother Jake who lives in Florida, attended one of Neale?s talks and later introduced himself to Neale. Upon hearing his last name, Neale asked how we were related. When Jake said I was his brother, Neale smiled and told him, “Get outta here. Jim is my brother.”

One thing I’ve learned is that despite my many years both as a denizen in this jaded world of showbiz and celebrity, there is a part of me that can still be wowed and impressed. Anyone can have their 15 minutes of fame, and remain a fan. I think it?s great to be both. When Antonio Carlos Jobim died, Bill Clinton just had to pay tribute to the greatness of his music.

To be inspired, so that one may pass it on, is what it’s all about.

29 thoughts on “Adventures of a fan”

  1. I guess this is by far my most fav entry of yours. Such a humble story from a big artist like you to admit that you are also a fan of somebody. How you rush your way towards them, autograph and picture-taking. Fan na fan talaga hahaha!

    You are (in case you’re not aware) are as nice, if not, more accomodating to your fans than those people you mentioned. Especially here on your blog, you pay great attention to what everybody has to say. You make everyone matter.

    And I thank you for that.

    – Marie

  2. It didn’t easily come to mind that a famous celeb such as you could also be a huge fan of another celeb. But then I told myself I shouldn’t really wonder because celebs too are just like everyone else. We do have look up at our own heroes and they inspire us to be better people.

    Thank you for visiting my blog, Sir Jim. I want you to know I really enjoy your posts, that’s why I keep coming back every week. And I do like talking to people like you who speak their minds and are honest and positive.

  3. Mr. Jim,
    WOW! What an adventure seeing all those people…and talking to them even…thank you for sharing those wonderful moments with us.
    I got tickets for your show! Sana makapagpa-autograph din kami sa ‘yo. God bless.

    (d’ emily that you were not looking for..LOL)

  4. paborito ko ang ali story! para lang hindi totoo! parang pinag-isipang mabuti upang maging memorable ng todo todo. ahahaha!

  5. Marie–yes, I am a fan of so many people. And like a fan, I wanna be treated nice and so treat people the way I want to be treated. You are most welcome.

    prudence–salamat din.

    emily–brace yourself. We are gonna have fun!!!!

    ma–ha ha. It’s a story too good to invent. Wait till I write about my family’s background. Truth can be stranger than fiction talaga because fiction has to be logical.

    What I did not put in Ali’s story was how beautiful his partner Veronica was and how much my friend was commenting in Tagalog about how sexy she was. Nahihiya ako imagining what she would have said if she could understand.

    Come to think of it, I carried ali’s signature on my wallet for years. I hope I still have it somewhere in the Philippines.

  6. You have a very eventful life. I enjoyed reading this entry.

    Which books have you written? Is it sold in Amazon? With your style of writing, it’s surely going to be a fun read.

    Banging foreheads with Mrs. Gorbachev…that’s a great one. I used to jog on the same street as George W Bush. I warned him about the stalker car, turned out it was Secret service…and I think I almost gave chicken pox to Boris Yeltsin.

  7. You come across as a non-threatening individual Jim and it emits on your aura when dealing with people. Thank you for being humble and pretty much know your standing on this slowly dismishing earth…very few people are aware of themselves.

  8. Dear Jim:

    It will be a treat to see you, Danny & Boboby on May 12 at the UCLA Royce Hall. It’s been ages since I last saw APO…We were even in the same TV show way back in the 70’s. I have contacted my relatives and hopefully, we will be able to purchase tickets…Heard its selling like hotcakes! wow!


  9. Jim,
    Wow! Caetano Valoso. Bigat.
    “Voce E Linda”– is still
    a favorite and I think one of his best song.

    Here in NY artists are easy access since the clubs are so small and intimate. I’ve met Stan Getz and Larry Coryell at different times at the Blue Note.

    But to play John Denver’s guitar– that’s special. Didn’t he write the great song Leaving On A Jet Plane?


  10. ayos ang raissa gorba pic. parang nagkasarahan na sa glasnot/perestroika deal! btw, i heard over the radio that boris yeltsin passed. yung pic mo with robert redford, parang dinuplicate ng forest gump/jfk handshake scene.

  11. Sir…God Bless nalang po sa inyo…you are one of the pillars of the Philippine music….praying that you will still continue composing songs that would inspire us more….

  12. thanks for sharing, jim. I’m also a big fan of ali. apparently, he was never one to hide from fans, he would always plunge straight into the middle of a crowd, even among the rednecks who used to hate him with a passion. a man of the people.

  13. shoshana–My books are not available at amazon. For a while there was one copy being sold there. You can get my 4th book from Just type my name. The other three you can get in Manila or order through me and i will send you signed ones.

    Write me at if you are interested.

    regina–it will be a thrill to perform, as it has always been for the past 38 years.

    jonas–mas maamo lang ang mukha ni neale at bulong magsalita

    ray–I have complete caetano collection. My other great love in music is Joyce from Brazil and I will be watching her live in two weeks at Yoshi’s in SFO. cant wait.

    Am not sure if he did write Leaving on a jet plane. Baka nga. He sang it there too.

    cbs–ooo nga. ha ha. I made sure I face the camera para walang argument kung ako talaga yun.


    von–ali is a real showman who thrives on public notice and adulation. And he REALLY loves the whole attemntion thing. Iba siya. His love for it shows annd it is electric.


  14. Jim:

    Your family (wife & children) are lucky to have a father/husband like you. Your parents did an outstanding job in raising you. The result speaks for itself. I have been reading your “writing on air” segments and its so refreshing to read there is still some folks out there who cares and respect other human beings…I like the article about your “nana” per se…

    Maraming salamat Jim!

  15. I’ve read a lot of your entries and this one is very interesting, that’s quite an adventure from a celebrity like you, meeting them and asking for autographs and pictures, wow!

    Just like meeting you (APO in concert in Toronto) in person with my sister is such a privilege.

    Thank you.

  16. Hello sir,

    Greetings from the USA!

    It’s amusing to know that someone of your stature can still be a fan. What a thrill it must have been for you to meet the great Muhammad Ali! I’m a HUGE boxing fan and one of my dreams is to meet him.

    Ingat po diyan!

  17. i had my share of adventure as a fan when i finally met the master himself-YOU-in front of your house in manila 2 yrs. ago,was it? i felt so nervous & “tanga” but when you came, you greeted us as if we’re longtime friends. you exude so much warmth that one feels at ease with you. i still have the picture as a proof.
    of course i was star-strucked, no pretense.(like i always do when i see hollywood celebs or internationally famous personalities here in berlin esp during the “berlinale” film festival. berliners are like new yorkers who pretend not to notice a celeb or just ignore them.)
    now, i just have to meet DANNY & BOBOY, being an APO fan.

  18. What a nice entry. I bet this’ll be a great induction into the upcoming worldwide rally of ‘Artists Against Global Warming’. I personally don’t see how a global tax will help the environment. It’ll just make money for the elite who wants a one world government.

    Also, global warming is caused chiefly by the sun’s rays increasing it’s intensity. Not by fake, man-made, horse-dung reasons currently being bandied about in the media. Search for video ‘Great Global Warming Swindle’ on YouTube.

    Sorry to get political Jim. Just wanted to show the view from the other side.

  19. pag po nahanap ño na ang autograph ni ali, post ño pa ah? not that i’m asking for a proof or anything.. ahahaha!
    nakaka-excite lang..! 😀

  20. This is a delightful entry. I never thought big celebrities like you can be such huge fans of other celebs. Mabuhay po kayo, sir! Btw, I got my boyfriend into buying your CD’s. (Now he’s an APO fan) Hehehe…dapat may komisyon ako..hahaha…kidding po.

  21. great ‘fan’ adventure. bakit mukhang mas pogi ka yata kay robert redford? I would like to have an autograph copy of your book too….where can I order?

  22. *gasp!* i LOVE neale donald walsch!!! you’re so lucky you met him!

    you’re a great person, sir 🙂 i’ve also come across your daughter, ala’s blog. you did a great job raising her!

    i’m so happy for all of your blessings. and it’s great that you’re sharing your writings with the rest of the world. keep on, keep on! i admire you 🙂

  23. what a nice read 🙂

    I remember when I was 12, I saw james earl jones wearing a tux in the elevator. and he said in his beautiful voice, “what floor shall I press for you, little girl?”

    I wanted him to say “I am your father!”

    In high school, I had the opportunity to have michael jackson sign all his albums for me, as well as my Jackson 5 CDs. He said, “It’s fans like you that keep me going.” *sigh*

    But I still cant forget when I was crossing the street in Paris, the car that stopped for me was a nice classic 1960’s Porsche convertible. When I looked at who was driving, it was Catherine Deneuve! I thought, “wow! a goddess just stopped for me to cross the street!”

  24. I just wanted to let you know that I spoke about creative blogging making use of The Artist’s Way at I-Blog 3 this year.

    And I also wanted to direct your attention to a new endeavor I’m helping out on: it’s a bit political, but it’s U.S. politics, parodying the old SuperFriends cartoon in the 70’s. It’s a video that will throw you back to the old show: The Challenge Of The Super-Duper Friends!

    It’s amazing how someone as admired as you can still be starstruck when in the company of people you are fans of. 🙂

    Have a great day, sir Jim!

  25. regina, leila, jingo—salamat

    girlie– Saqlamat. I felt I knew you because you had commented many times on my blog. YOur demeanor made me feel comfortable being comfortable with you.

    ma’–will do

    lipad paruparo–Great. I hope he enjoys it and buys more!!

    vicky– flattery will get you EVERYWHERE… ha ha. Thanks. I have copies in Australia and I can send it from there. Saan ka ba? But if you are in manila, I will be there this May. You can buy it in any bookstore and we can meet up for me to sign it. Send me your details through

    girlie–yes, medyo magkahawig kami in some angles.

    cristina–NDW is a real good guy. It’s great to hear him talk of his good and bad times.He is one of my personal inspirations.

    Thank yo so much for your comments.

    Doranne–WOW! Yes, Catherine is a GODDESS!! Even at her age now, her beauty shines pa rin.

    marcelle–just saw it and it’s a blast. Very well done! I am forwarding it to friends. Congrats! Yes, I read your account of your talk.

  26. I like the Muhammad Ali experience the most as it was more colorful and funny.

    I’m a fan of the APO Hiking Society and I love listening to your songs.

    This is the first time I visited your blog but it definitely won’t be the last. More power and God bless! 🙂

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