I am sitting on a plane from Sydney to Manila aboard Philippine Airlines on row C, an aisle seat beside the window seat. The woman across the aisle on my right is looking at me from time to time. She is clearly a kababayan who has been away for sometime. The few occasions I hear her talking to the Aussie man beside her, I learn she is a factory worker and she has a Luzon accent. It is also her second plane ride in 8 years. I try not to establish eye contact. I am tired and very much just want to be lost in my own thoughts and concerns. Throughout the trip home, I notice she is looking and wanting to talk. An hour away from Manila, after the last meal is served, she finally musters the guts to open a conversation;
Woman: Kilala kita eh..
Me: (smiles at her)
Woman: Ikaw ba si….
Me: (bigger smile.. as in ‘the jig is out’. Oo, ako yun. Bistado na).
Woman: Sabi ko na nga ba eh. Ikaw si…Ikaw nga. Oo. Di ba ikaw si..si…ikaw si FANNY SERRANO, di ba?
Me: (Eyes wide-open as in shock). ANO? (I am flabbergasted and speechless and I am staring at her with really dilated eyes).
Woman: (Very excited now and feeling she hit bullseye). Di talaga nagbago ang mukha mo. Ganoon pa rin. Pati boses mo.. Sabi ko na nga ba eh ikaw si Fanny.
Me: (Incredilousl and with what must have been an expression of shock or at least great curiosity. I ask matter-of-factly.) Bakit? Mukha ba akong bading?
After awhile, I catch myself in a chuckle as the ridiculousness of the situation sinks in.
‘Palagay ko, napagkamalan mo ako sa ibang tao. Ako si Jim Paredes ng APO!’
Woman: ‘Aaaaaahhhhhh…OO NGA! (Without batting an eyelash and REALLY exzcited now) Talagang di ka nagbago. Ganoon ka pa rin. Idol ka ng mommy ko. Meron akong cassette niyo sa Melbourne. Paborito ko nga yung ‘nakapagtataka’ eh.. blah blah blah!’
Meanwhile, I can hear Lydia and Tabby (daughter of Betta nd Butch, APO’s management who was traveling with us)who overheard everything suppressing their laughter at the comically pathetic situation I am in.
Bwahaha! Such are the perils of having ‘face value’. Being recognizable definitely has its perks but it can also have its rude surprises. I have been mistaken for other people, some famous, some not. Thank God I had the ability to laugh at it even after being on a plane for almost 7 hours.
Many times, ‘face value’ means getting a nice table in a restaurant, or being upgraded when traveling, or getting extra courtesies in hotels, government offices, and when dealing with people in almost all situations. One time, it even got my friend out of a traffic violation with an MMDA officer. When the policeman saw me inside the car, he was almost apologetic as he addressed me as ‘bosing’ and ‘idol’. He then advised me in an ever so friendly way to get my driver friend to renew his license ASAP. All this with hardly a word from me.
It does not always work though. I admit I almost always try to use ‘face value’ every time I enter a subdivision and am asked to leave my license. Most of the time, I am actually ‘exempted’ from it but the times I am not, I still try to give my best recognizable smile and when it still does not work, well, I end up leaving my license! %&#@$*!!
The truth of the matter though is, I enjoy being recognized most when I am doing APO stuff—performing, or being in public with my two friends. Most of the time, I am quite happy just being anonymous. I know some of you may not buy this but, believe me, fame isn’t what it’s cut out to be. It can get tiring hearing your name whispered as you pass by rows of aisles in department stores. Celebs are not always ready and up to being famous 24 hours a day although the public seems to assume we are , or at least we must!. People can be pushy, demanding and forever engaging celebs as excited, loud fans, and that’s OK when you are in the mood for it. It’s fun when you are ‘on’, as we call it in our business. When we are not, when we just want quiet, peace and non-engagement, we are mistaken for being aloof, masungit, mayabang, etc.. But as they say, all this is supposed to go with the territory. Luckily, I can be ‘on’ easily and sincerely enjoy being with people 95% of the time.
During my trip to Sydney last week, I was dumbfounded to discover that I was almost ‘completely anonymous’ with regards to showing proof of who I was. In fact, more than anonymity, I had a case of ‘non-identity’. We were filling up applications to rent our future home and I had to produce evidence of employment, an Aussie driver’s license, a local credit card a utilities statement which of course I did not have. I tried to explain that I had just come in to settle but it was no-go. In the end, a good friend had to sign the contract for me.
I must admit this left me quite intimidated. I will most definitely need an identity with roots in Aus if I am to function in this society. Thus, I will need to show income, get a credit card, and become an entity here ASAP to make life easier for all of us. I have been reviewing the NSW licensing test and let me tell you, it is tough. Almost every other day, I take the practice test on the internet so that I can work on being able to drive as soon as possible. But just as I am intimidated, I am quite excited and challenged by it.
No special treatment. I will do things on my own just like everyone else. I will be an average suburban bloke chasing after a job in Sydney and starting from scratch. That can also be refreshing! But deep down, I know that life will probably not be anywhere near cold and merciless down under. Not by a long shot. This early, I have met kababayans who have willingly offered help for all sorts of things to get us started. Friends have offered us mattresses, a car seat for Ananda, and many other stuff as gestures of hospitality and welcome. And that is a wonderful thing for which I am grateful. Thank God we Pinoys are the way we are.
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For those of you who have been asking when APO will be performing in Manila, here it is:
THIS IS AN UPDATED POSTER WITH THE RIGHT DATE!
The APO EXPERIENCE
SM Cinema 3
Pasig Metro manila
8:30 PM Saturday
Tickets at 600P. 800P. 1200P. Reserved seats.
This is most likely our final show before I leave. We wanted a big one but alas, it’s been too hectic to plan while traveling. It takes a few months to get an ULTRA or Araneta going. Besides, Araneta is booked solid with foreign acts this year.
We leave again in a few days for Canada to do Valentine concerts. See you on March 11. Yes, it will have a live band and will be fun, fun fun!!