If you’ve ever wanted to be an entertainer and had caught yourself casting a moist eye while watching a visiting performer in a concert, then you may find this entry interesting.
I imagine that for most people who watch us, it seems like Danny, Boboy and I live exciting, glamorous, easy lives , traveling from one place to another while reaping praises heaped on us by adoring audiences. I don’t blame them. To outsiders, they can only come to conclusions based on what they see and that is, APO performing and having a good time in concert, signing autographs, etc. And that’s it! ‘Ang sarap ng trabaho niyo’, I have often been told. I agree. I love this job. But it is not as easy at it all seems.
There are so many behind-the-scenes activities that must be taken cared off before we even set foot on a foreign stage. It takes months to plan a tour, and a tedious process to follow up on papers to secure proper visas, plane tickets, etc. There are the rehearsals before we leave and a million other details to take care of. And when we arrive at the destination, things REALLY shift into high gear.
Almost from day one, there are the endless promo visits to Filipino supermarkets, stores, restaurants, beauty salons, karaoke bars, church gatherings, offices, sponsor visits, even law firms, parties—anywhere where Filipinos congregate— to promote the shows. With all that come an overwhelming dose of food: kare-kare, pancit malabon, crispy pata, pinakbet, bagoong, lechon kawali, kaldereta, bibingka, etc. It is not unusual that we end up eating around 6 times a day. At times, we actually feel like we are ‘overdosing’ on Pinoy food and sneak out for a different cuisine!
And there’s the endless driving on freeways, sometimes up to 500 miles in one day. That’s like going Manila-Baguio and back twice! That also means using strange toilets and if you are the picky kind, this could be a Fear Factor experience. Luckily, none of us are, and it is a credit to the US that there are always clean toilets available. (I think of my American niece Cristina who wonders where all the toilet seats are in Manila since almost always, there are only bowls sans the seats in public toilets! Oo nga, where are they indeed?) Airports are something to endure since holders of Philippine passports are deemed to come from a terrorist haven and more often than not MUST go through intense inspection separate from ordinary or regular passengers.
Meeting hundreds of people, posing for countless pictures, (and with the advent of digital, EVERYONE seems to have a camera and wants to take at least four pictures—one with each APO and one with a group ) signing autographs, CDs, engaging in constant talk with people who see you not just as a celebrity (a.k.a. some sort of oddity) but as a direct link to a memorable past they miss so much. All this goes with the job. And all of it is almost always easy if
a) you had a good night sleep the night before,
b) you are feeling great,
c) you are not homesick.
I almost always enjoy this a lot although admittedly, there are times when I’m just not into it. In such moments, I just want to disappear, go somewhere alone and just anonymously fade into nondescriptness. ‘Home’ is a hotel room where we stay no longer than three days, longer if you’re lucky. Living out of a suitcase, planning laundry days, squeezing in a little shopping time, or seeing old friends and classmates can be tricky amidst all this frenzy.
A tour can be a series of small lessons on impermanence. Faces come and go, stage lights turn on and off, and settings are constantly changing as we travel on an open road that seems endless. Amid all this, the only semblance of permanence are the songs we made years ago, and the three of us who continue to sing them.
While I may sound like I’m complaining (and sometimes I am), I willingly go through this for that two hour gig bliss we stand on stage and become one with our audience. That golden chance on stage is what performers definitely live for. Showered with applause and appreciation, I feel wonderfully thrilled like the heavens just kissed us in public!
The long rides and the ritual signing, picture taking, etc. that builds up to show time need not be tedious and boring. During promo tours, I indulge the mystic in me by being present to every moment– before, during and after the performance. This way, I enjoy myself. Everything in the process becomes important because I go through them with fresh eyes. Nothing has to be wasted or thrown away. Every moment is all there is.
The journey really IS the destination!