Sony Music launches OFFMUTE

CELEBRITY WORLD PH

By Crispina M. Belen

Sony Music launches OFFMUTE

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Last March 19, Sony Music Entertainment announced the launch of OFFMUTE – a new pan-regional label focused on championing new and emerging Southeast Asian talents by drawing on the combined experience of Sony Music’s entire Southeast Asian team.

At the virtual mediacon, Sony Music said OFFMUTE gives emerging recording artists across all genres an opportunity to develop their own music and follow their creative vision. The new label will support Southeast Asian artists in amplifying their music and building a strong pan-regional audience base through enhanced promotional, marketing and artist development, drawn from Sony Music’s global expertise and resources.

“OFFMUTE is a first-of-its-kind label in this part of the world, embracing the eclectic appeal and rich diversity that Southeast Asia has to offer, empowering artists with the resources and expertise to find success in a diverse region,” said Shridhar Subramaniam, President, Strategy and Market Development, Asia and Middle East, Sony Music Entertainment. “That offering is compelling for a new generation of artists in the region and we’re excited to help these artists fulfil their potential in the years to come.”

Ariel Fung, Executive Vice President of Sony Music Southeast Asia, expresses his enthusiasm on the label’s attempt to solidify its foothold in the global music industry. “I am so excited to see the launch of OFFMUTE which embraces different genres of artists with their unique culture and style, and with the potential of cross-border success.”

NEW OFFMUTE ARTISTS FROM PHILIPPINES, INDONESIA AND MALAYSIA

OFFMUTE also announced recently three new signings for the label: acclaimed Philippine singer-songwriter Clara Benin; Indonesian alt-pop sensation Mezzaluna; and Malaysian recording star liesl-mae.

An acclaimed singer-songwriter in the Philippines, Clara Benin is renowned for her captivating songs that blend unspoken ruminations with commitment and depth. Amassing more than 25 million streams on combined music platforms Spotify and YouTube, Benin frequently headlines local and international music festivals, and won multiple awards including Wishclusive Contemporary Folk Performance of the Year for her song “I Rose up Slowly”.

Roslyn Pineda, General Manager, Sony Music Philippines, speaks of Benin’s potential to leave a mark with the international audience. “When my team and I discussed the vision for OFFMUTE, we immediately thought Clara Benin embodied what the label was all about,” Pineda reveals. “And it’s great that the other markets think so too.  With a Southeast Asian team supporting her, we’re thrilled that Clara’s moving vocals and introspective songwriting will reach new audiences across the region.”

Another addition to the OFFMUTE family is Mezzaluna, a talented and gifted singer-songwriter based in Indonesia who comes from strong musical lineage and quickly emerged as a standout artist with incredible achievements in her own right. With deep, soulful vocals and an intensely personal storytelling style, the 20-year-old alt-pop sensation marks her journey as a solo star capable of delivering inspiring and powerful songs with a universal reach. She will be releasing her debut single this year, which OFFMUTE will be amplifying across the region.

Malaysia’s liesl-mae completes the record label’s wide-ranging selection of music acts. Making waves in the Malaysian music scene with her soothing, almost-lullaby-like tunes, the recording star will now see her talent showcased across Southeast Asia through OFFMUTE. She plans to release her own music and collaborate with other artists under the new label, as well as harness her newfound platform to advocate for mental health education and awareness.

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First ever ‘Inevitable Drone Show’ set Feb. 28

CELEBRITY WORLD PH

By Crispina M. Belen

First ever ‘Inevitable Drone Show’ set Feb. 28

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An exciting and special show called  “The Inevitable Drone Show,” headlined by Ben&Ben, is set for Sunday, February 28 at 7pm. The first of it’s kind to feature a music performance with drone lights, it will illuminate the Manila skyline in a synchronized fashion. 

To accompany the picturesque storytelling in the sky, Ben&Ben will perform an extended version of “Inevitable,” the song that was used as soundtrack and music score for Smart 5G’s romantic sci-fi TVC featuring  Korean superstars Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin.

Presented by SMART 5G, the eco-friendly and innovative show will give Rizal Park and nearby areas the rare experience to watch the modern light show LIVE. It will also simultaneously air on Ben&Ben’s official Facebook page.

In a recent virtual mediacon, Smart 5G detailed how they they achieved a casting coup – bringing together Korean superstars Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin – in a joint TVC, with Ben&Ben providing the background song “Inevitable.”

It wasn’t easy for Smart to bring together Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin in a TVC, them being today’s  very powerful celebrity couple, not only in Asia but globally. They are also the couple that best represents the power of the technology that they’re endorsing, which is 5G, Jane J. Basa, Smart SVP and head of Consumer Wireless Busibess,  said at the recent virtual mediacon. 

Individually, it was already hard for Smart to hire them in separate campaigns in the past. But, Basa added that they at Smart want their subscribers to know “how much we love them. They asked for it” and so they did what seemed impossible, possible – bringing Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin in a joint project. And it turned out to be a casting coup!

While it was important for Smart to grant wishes of its subscribers when it comes to bringing consumers closer to their foreign idols, the latest Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin TVC presented an opportunity to put a Filipino band behind the soundtrack and musical scoring.  

Here’s where Ben&Ben comes in, providing “Inevitable,” the song that is heard in the background while Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin pursue each other in this romantic-sci-fi TVC.  

With lyrics inspired by real-life events, Ben&Ben members simply happen to be CLOY fans as well. In a collaboration set to motion by the band, Smart, and Sony Music, things started falling into place when it came to lending soundtrack and musical score for this collaborative campaign.

In an official statement released by Sony Music, lead singer Paolo Benjamin said, “Inevitable is a song that tries to describe the nature of fate, and how all our actions somehow lead us to some better place that is destined for us. It’s also a song about being real with someone, and that no matter how scary that may seem at times, there is freedom in baring your truest nature with someone dear to you, even if that someone is yourself.”    

He also said “the chemistry was very natural between us and Smart because a lot of it was very serendipitous – we didn’t really force anything in terms of the creative process for the song and it just so happened that what Smart wanted to achieve was very much in line with what we wanted to pull off also as a band. It’s just like we both flowed in the same direction. So it’s really a beautiful partnership.”

On his part, Poch Barretto said: “The so g tells the story of two contrasting feelings: One that is of wonder and mystery of what kind of love this is, and the other is one of certainty as to the feeling that’s really true for the individual. The music we made around it just kind of highlighted those two contrasts working together to create that feeling that’s inevitable. So, it was a fun process we worked on and we’re really excited because Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin will be featured in the commercial with the song. So that’s like something for all of us – a super kilig moment!”

Basa added: “When we brought Hyun Bin into the Smart family, as well as Son Ye Jin, our business also grew. There’s a lot of challenges in the country right now but we were able to survive the pandemic and I think it’s really because we were able to bring in the brand LOVE during the time that we brought in the celebrity couple so it’s a very special journey for us…Part 2 of the commercial should be released soon and we’re planning some more things with Ben&Ben as well.”

From Miguel Benjamin, “The songwriting in itself presents a concept of the state that is both a surreal mystery and a peaceful certainty, so we wanted to create an aural representation of what these lyrics felt like. Our process started with a mix of acoustic guitars, which I tweaked with sitar effects as the main intro riff; kind of like a representation of the two contrasting feelings working together.”  

About the Smart 5G Campaign

The TVC, which serves as a joint project top-billed by Korean drama stars Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin, is part of the new Smart 5G campaign to make what seemed impossible, possible.

From “The Captain Has Landed” to landing into each other’s arms, Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin took chemistry to a whole new level in the Smart 5G TVC as they chase each other on the road and through different dimensions only to meet again just as Bin asks, “Do you believe it’s possible?” To which Ye Jin replies, “I do!” 

Smart has put together Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin together in one project for the first time much like the latest development with Smart 5G, which has started enabling subscribers to do groundbreaking things we thought we couldn’t do.

The TVC was even made more powerful thanks to Ben&Ben’s “Inevitable” complementing the top-tier material.

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Fall in love with The CompanY’s Valentine ‘Roadtrip’

CELEBRITY WORLD PH

By Crispina M. Belen

Fall in love with The CompanY’s Valentine ‘Roadtrip’

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The CompanY, the Philippines’ premiere vocal group, will be presenting a pre-Valentine online musical special entitled “ROADTRIP.” This will be held on February 13, 2021 on ABS-CBN’s digital streaming platform, KTX.PH ( https://www.ktx.ph/ ).

The CompanY, now a vocal quartet, comprised of Sweet Plantado (soprano), Annie Quintos (Alto) , Oj Mariano (tenor) and Moy Ortiz (baritone/bass), alongside their management company, Stages Talents (composed of Stella Sison, Cris Ojeda and Carlo Orosa) are producing this one-of-a-kind musical travelogue.

Since most folks are still unable to travel due to the lockdown, “ROADTRIP” is the ideal virtual voyage to combat the pandemic blues and homesickness. The ingredients that make a memorable and enjoyable roadtrip are all here: Sights, Sounds, Stories and Silliness.

The CompanY synergised their talents and strengths to come up with a musical special that will definitely be entertaining, heartwarming and memorable. The CompanY soprano, Sweet, took on the role as show’s director, writer and choreographer. CompanY tenor, Oj, was the ever-dependable assistant director. CompanY bass, Moy, stuck to his duties as musical director. CompanY alto, Annie, was a big help in the marketing and sponsorship solicitation areas.

The tickets for “ROADTRIP,” affordably priced at Php 599 or USD $12.50, are now available on https://www.ktx.ph.

The CompanY’s “ROADTRIP” will have two international broadcasts on https:// http://www.ktx.ph. The schedule is as follows:

FIRST STREAM

Feb 13, 2021 – SATURDAY 830 pm – Manila

9:30 pm – Tokyo

1:30 pm – Paris and Rome 430 pm – Dubai

1130pm – SYDNEY

SECOND STREAM

FEB 13, 2021 – SATURDAY

730pm – Los Angeles and Vancouver

1030 pm – New York and Toronto

Feb 14, 2020 – Sunday

11:30 am – Metro Manila, Hong Kong, Taiwan

Even though you may find yourself stuck at home this Valentine 2021, you can still take an unforgettable trip with The CompanY on “ROADTRIP.”

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Anthony Castelo releases new album

CELEBRITY WORLD PH

By Crispina M. Belen

Anthony Castelo releases new album

Anthony CasteloFans of bestselling OPM icon Anthony Anthony Castelo will surely be delighted to know that their idol has a new album – “Pangarap Mo’y Makakamit.” The positively titled album is now available on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Yahoo Music, and 7 Digital.

The album, with the song “Pangarap Mo’y Makakamit” as carrier single, features 10 new compositions of Anthony, songs he wrote before the COVID-19 pandemic. The other songs in the album are “Ikaw ang Mahal Ko,” “Salamat Po Panginoon,” “Mahal Kita,” “Let’s Fall in Love Again,” “I Got Love,” “A Letter to the Lord,” “Dakilang Lahi,” “I’m Coming Homes Philippines” and “Minamahal Kita Pilipinas.”

Expectedly, these songs stand the chance to be as successful as Anthony’s hit songs in the past, hit songs that made him a household name. Among these songs are “Balatkayo,” the title of his 40th anniversary album; “Hahanapin Ko,” “Hanggang Ngayon,” “Kaibigan” and “Nang Dahil sa Pag-ibig” among others 

Anthony’s other hit songs were also featured in his “Best of Anthony Castelo’s Greatest Hits” album released in March 2020; “Anthony Castelo’s Greatest Hits” album released in January 2019; and “Anthony Castelo’s 18 Greatest Hits” album released on Amazon Music in 2018.

Aside from being a famous OPM singer-composer, Anthony was also an actor. Among the movies he appeared in include “Pakawalan Mo Ako,” which starred him with Vilma Santos; “Sana Bukas Pa ang Kahapon” and “Bilang na Ang Araw Mo.”

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Marlene dela Pena: Acclaimed Pinay jazz artist in Japan!

CELEBRITY WORLD PH

By Crispina M. Belen

MDLP solo

Marlene dela Pena: Acclaimed Pinay jazz artist in Japan!

Although she started her singing career in the country of her birth, the Philippines, Marlene dela Pena would find fame and popularity in an unlikely foreign land – Japan!

While in the Philippines, Marlene tried to make a name, or as they say, carve a niche, singing in music lounges like at the Calesa Bar of Hyatt Regency Hotel. But fame didn’t come to her in her country, because as fate would have it, Marlene would make it in Japan, the country she chose to be her second home. She moved to the land of the Cherry blossoms in the late 70’s.

As backgrounder, Marlene recalled that when she was young, she joined a singing contest during a fiesta, without her parents’ knowledge, surprising them with the goodies she brought home from that contest. At 10, Marlene joined Tinno Lapus’ “Eskuwelang Munti.” And at 15, she joined “Tawag ng Tanghalan.”

It was that time that a Japanese promoter offered her to go to Japan but she declined, citing for a reason the fact that she wanted to finish high school first. The talent promoter came back after three years, and as they say, the rest is history!

It wasn’t really her fondest dream to be a singer-performer, Marlene revealed to us. “I thought about singing, but most of all about finishing college and helping send my siblings to school too,” she said.

Her formal introduction to the musical stage came when she, 15, and Dulce,14, performed in a beerhouse at the foot of Jones Bridge in Escolta. Dulce would become Asia’s Diva, while Marlene would be the toast of Japan in the field of jazz!

Specializing in the pop and jazz genres, Marlene endeared herself to Japanese music lovers with her uniquely simple but engaging style of performing. Not long after introducing herself to the Japanese audience, Marlene clinched a recording deal with EMI Japan for her first single which was released in 1979.

“It was December 1978 when I landed at the Land of the Rising Sun!” Marlene recalled. After I was I introduced to the people in the music industy in Japan, I got my recording contract with Toshiba-EMI. I was marketed as an idol singer with my debut single ‘Love Me,’ composed by Tsutsumi Kyohei. Few more singles followed. I was also fortunate to do a commercial song for Seiko watch Credor, became a poster model for Blue Jean’s UFO. I also was asked to sing the theme song of Tatum O’Neal’s ‘Ganbare Bears’ for NTV4. I was also featured in magazines along with some of the most popular idols of the time!”

She added that two years later, the big break came when Sony’s top producer Ito Yasohachi, approached her personally. After talking to her manager, Ito offered her to be one of his artists. Six months later, she was working on her very first album, “Just Like First Love” which had 32,000 copies reserved even before press time. From then on, she was recording albums twice a year!

Marlene remains a contract artist of CBS Sony, now Sony Music Entertainment, till today. In 1983, two of her albums appeared on the Oricon Charts, with “Deja Vu” reaching No. 8, and “Magic” reaching No. 5. Each of the albums sold over 150,000 copies, not bad for a relatively new artist in Japan.

So far, Marlene has recorded 31 albums, five of them Gold Records. In the United States, she was known for her ” Stay With Me” album that climbed to No. 28 in the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart in the 90’s.

Marlene worked with Seawind with whom she recorded her second album “Summer Night” in Los Angeles, California in 1982. Her sixth album, “Looking for Love,” was also recorded in LA, in 1984. Another album, “This Time,” was recorded in New York in 1987.

Significantly, Marlene has earned the reputation of being the highest-paid Pinay jazz artist in Japan. Aside from singing, she has also dabbled into acting, appearing in two Japanese movies: “Nantonaku” in 2007; and “Karanukan” in 2017. Marlene was also the subject of “Mundo ni Juan sa Japan,” a TV film documentary made in 2015.

Her hit song in 1986, “Left Alone,” was used as the theme song for the Kadokawa movie “Cabaret.” The song was composed by Mal Waldron with lyrics by Billie Holiday.

Among Marlene’s most memorable and successful performances and/or concerts include her debut stint at the Carnegie Hall in New York City In February 2, 2019. Another unforgettable show is her 2019 sold-out dinner show with THREESOME at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati. It was attended by the Who’s Who in Philipine society including Bongbong Marcos and few Ambassadors.

THEEESOME was the trio created by Marlene that included prominent musicians – accomplished guitarist Jiro Yoshida and acclaimed pianist Makoto Kuriya.

Yoshida Jiro is Japan’s 51st UN WAFUNIF Goodwill Ambassador for various humanitarian efforts. He is also a music producer for National Geographic Channel. He has also performed with a number of famous singers like Barbra Streisand, Cyndi Lauper and Sting, etc.

Makoto Kuriya is also a music producer never had a formal music education. He is very well known and very much respected in Europe ! He’s a well sought music director for both TV programs in Japan .

Another memorable concert that Marlene was part of was the “George Benson and Friends,” at Axis Theater, Planet Hollywood Las Vegas. Held on January 8, 2019, it featured George Benson, Patti Austin, Robert Duvall and Marlene.

Marlene was also a special guest at the State Dinner for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte held at the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s residence in May 2019.

As it did to all of us, the COVID-19 pandemic also affected Marlene. “It was both bad and good for me,” she said. “Good because I got to become a full time mother to my children, aged 13 and 16. Bad because I was out of income…until September last year when things got better.”

With the pandemic, things went “crazy and unpredictable. But I have to live with it; I knew worrying won’t take me anywhere. I just have to let things be and move on!”

Knowing too that she’s luckier than most, Marlene also embarked on her own charity work when she turned 60 last January 4, 2020. She pledged to help about 150 relocated families in Davao del Sur affected by the consecutive earthquakes through a water support for life. She called it “Sweet 60 Project.” As part of it, she celebrated her birthday with children afflicted with cancer at the House of Hope in Davao,

Marlene also gave away shoes and bags to displaced pupils of Tagaytay Elementary School. In her charitable endeavors, she was assisted by a sister, a brother and a cousin. As to why, she personally involved herself, she said “I wanted to give the gifts from my hands to theirs!”

As to her personal info, Marlene was born on January 4, 1960 in Sta. Ana, Manila and studied at Sta. Ana Elementary School, then finished secondary school at Villamor High School. For college, she studied at Centro Escolar University.

A single mother of two, Marlene’s American husband died in June 2019.

Marlene is now working on a new CD, to be released sometime this year. On a positive note, Marlene said with great enthusiasm: “I’m looking to a NEW me in the years to come!”

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GMA programs and personalities win top honors

CELEBRITY WORLD PH

By Crispina M. Belen

GMA programs and personalities win top honors

GMA Network, the country’s leading  broadcast company, continues to receive accolades with its various programs and personalities winning honors from various award-giving bodies.

Asia’s Pop Diva and The Clash Master Julie Anne San Jose won big at this year’s Aliw Awards after being named “Entertainer of the Year” and “Best Rhythm and Blues Artist, “ another notable feat she can add to her growing achievements. On the other hand, The Clash Journey hosts Rita Daniela and Ken Chan took home the “Best Featured Performance” award for their number at the “Two-gether Again” concert. 

Earning the nod as “Best Male Host” was Kapuso actor Derrick Monasterio. Fast-rising singer Golden Cañedo received the “Best New Female Artist” award, while comedian and TV host Donita Nose was chosen as the “Best Stand-Up Comedian.”

Louie Ignacio

The Clash director Louie Ignacio was inducted into the Aliw Hall of Fame for “Best Concert Stage Director” after winning the said award for the fifth time.

‘Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit’ director Laurice Guillen was given the “Lifetime Achievement Award,” while her daughter, professional actor, distinguished classical performer, and acting coach Ana Feleo was recognized as “ Best Classical Performer.”

At the recently concluded Paragala: The Central Luzon Media Awards, GMA News and Public Affairs dominated the News and Current Affairs category.

24 Oras

The Network’s flagship newscast, “24 Oras,” was hailed once again as “Best News Program.” This is the seventh time “24 Oras” was given the award, making it the only newscast to win the recognition since Paragala was launched.

Top-notch documentary program “I-Witness” won the “Best Documentary” for Kara David’s episode “Silaki” while travel and adventure program “Biyahe ni Drew” received the “Best Magazine Show” award.

Six out of Paragala’s Top 7 News Personalities also came from GMA. These included GMA News pillars Mike Enriquez, Mel Tiangco, and Arnold Clavio, as well as award-winning broadcast journalists Kara David, Ivan Mayrina, and Atom Araullo.

Various Kapuso shows also received special awards by various Paragala juries.

Pepito Manaloto

‘iJuander’ was given this year’s Paragala Pang Kultura, which was chosen by the Center for Kapampangan Studies. Earning the Paragala Pampamilya award was ‘Pepito Manaloto’ as it was the Jury’s choice of Holy Angel University’s Campus Ministry and Guidance Office. Infotainment show ‘AHA!,’ on the other hand, received the Paragala Pang-Likhaan as decided by the Communicator’s League, the official organization of the Holy Angel University’s Communication students.

Meanwhile, at the 10th EdukCircle Awards, Asia’s Multimedia Star Alden Richards and Phenomenal Star Maine Mendoza were recognized as part of the Most Influential Celebrities of The Decade for their impact among the audience and using their platform for social good. Continue reading →

Jessica Villarubin – The Clash Season 3 Grand Champion!

CELEBRITY WORLD PH

By Crispina M. Belen

 

Jessica Villarubin – The Clash Season 3 Grand Champion!

 

Congratulations to “The Clash Season 3” Grand Champion,  Power Cebuana Diva Jessica Villarubin!

From San Fernando, Cebu, the 24-year-old singer emerged victorious with her powerful rendition of “Habang May Buhay,” besting “Belter Babe ng Makati” Jennie Gabriel during the final One-on-One Clash last night lasr December 20.

Jessica recalls the most challenging part of her “Clash” journey and her takeaway from this experience: “‘Yung napunta po ako sa bottom two ng dalawang beses. Natutunan ko po na kahit dumaan man po ang maraming pagsubok, huwag ka dapat mawawalan ng pag-asa.”

The newest Kapuso singer also vows to put her heart and soul into every performance, “I’m really excited to work with Kapuso artists. Every performance na gagawin ko po, I promise to always give my best. I will continue to improve my singing,” she adds.

Along with Jessica and Jennie in the Top 5 were Renz Robosa of Pangasinan, Fritzie Magpoc of Las Piñas, and Sheemee Buenaobra of Caloocan.

“The Clash Panel” was composed of the “Original Concert Queen” Pops Fernandez, Asia’s Romantic Balladeer Christian Bautista, and Comedy Concert Queen Aiai delas Alas. The competition was hosted by Clash Masters, Total Heartthrob Rayver Cruz and Asia’s Pop Diva Julie Anne San Jose; together with Journey Hosts Rita Daniela and Ken Chan.

Jessica’s victory song entitled “Ako Naman” was extra special as it was composed by Christian himself. The hashtag, #TheFinalClash2020, also dominated the Philippines’ Twitter trends last Sunday night. 

As the Grand Champion, Jessica will take home P1 million in cash, a house and lot, a brand-new car, and an exclusive management contract with GMA Artist Center.

Meanwhile, former Clashers, the hosts, and The Clash Panel will unite in a festive celebration via “The Clash Christmas Special: Pasko Para sa Lahat!” this December 25, Friday, after “24 Oras” in GMA-7.

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Save the Children Philippines launches eSave Natin ang Pasko

CELEBRITY WORLD PH 

By Crispina M. Belen

Awit Para Sa Mga Bata Poster

Save the Children Philippines launches eSave Natin ang Pasko

From the pigeonhole:

Christmas is the most awaited season for most Filipinos, especially the children, but the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way the upcoming holidays will be celebrated—it’s going digital!

Save the Children Philippines is launching eSave Natin ang Pasko, an online fundraising campaign that encourages everyone to unite in saving the Christmas spirit through a series of joyous and meaningful activities to provide joy and hope to children. These include 22 million learners, who have been experiencing major challenges such as the lack of access to learning materials and internet connection, as they struggle to learn from home.  

The proceeds of the Christmas fundraising campaign will support the learning needs of children in poor households in Metro Manila, typhoon-stricken places in Eastern Visayas, and the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. It will also support children with disabilities, those from indigenous communities and from hard to reach areas.

“Even if classes are conducted through distance learning or will resume via face-to-face, millions of children will still need our support as they continue to be deprived of their right to education since their families do not have the means to support their learning needs,” said Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines.

eSave Natin ang Pasko also promotes the importance of a nurturing home through the “Mapagkalingang Tahanan” advocacy – where every member of the family, especially children, receives the support they need so they learn, survive, and are protected.

“Mapagkalingang Tahanan” emphasizes the critical role of parents, guardians, and caregivers in the continued learning of children and aims to provide them the knowledge and skills to facilitate their children’s learning. 

Also, in keeping with the tradition of Christmas caroling, eSave Natin ang Pasko features “Namamasko po!” – a fun group activity by schools, families, and companies showcasing their musical talent and creativity.

eSave Natin ang Pasko will be highlighted by a digital concert entitled “Awit Para Sa Mga Bata” on December 18 where Gary Valenciano, Lea Salonga, Martin Nievera, Regine Velasquez Alcasid, Ogie Alcasid, Arnel Pineda, Bamboo, Gian Magdangal, Lara Maigue, Kayla Rivera and Sam Shoaf will serenade the audience in the Philippines and those living abroad with Christmas songs. 

The digital concert will be produced by prominent theater artists Menchu Lauchengco Yulo and Michael Williams, together with Save the Children Philippines’ Bianca Elizalde. Catch Awit para sa mga Bata online on December 18, 2020, starting at 7pm. If you can’t catch the concert live, the video link will be active until December 19, 2020.

To watch the concert, make a donation through https://ticket2me.net/e/32182.  Each ticket costs P800. Your donation will provide one family with a Family Learning Kit to help children learn during the pandemic. 

Donors and participants who will pledge their support to eSave Natin ang Pasko will receive tokens of appreciation and a chance to be featured on the social media pages of Save the Children and its Ambassadors Katarina Rodriguez, Xia Vigor, and Ria Atayde. 

“Education empowers children especially those in dire situations, and supporting their learning needs will save their lives and their future,” said Muyot.

You can read about all the projects under eSave Natin Ang Pasko and how you can help here: https://www.savethechildren.org.ph/get-involved/esavenatinangpasko/

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10 years and counting for Alden Richards

CELEBRITY WORLD PH

By Crispina M. Belen

10 years and counting for Alden Richards

Alden Richards recording artist

When the name Alden Richards is heard, what fans and supporters easily remember  is his bedimpled cheeks, his natural charm, and his humility. The once aspiring artist made it big without losing his faith and genuine demeanor, making him well-loved on and off-camera. 

Though his early years in the industry were tough, Alden refuses to lose sight of how he started 10 years ago, pointing out that his struggles served as the driving force behind his success.

“When I was starting, ang dami kong pangarap, ang dami kong gustong mangyari sa buhay ko noon,” the Kapuso homegrown talent recalled. “As I go along the 10 years that I’ve been here, unti-unti siyang natutupad because of the support of the people.”

He continued to express: “My struggles pushed me to work hard para marating ko kung ano man ang narating ko ngayon. That’s what keeps my feet on the ground. Kasi if not for those hardships and struggles, hindi ko mararating kung ano ‘yung narating ko ngayon. So I really owe it to those moments. I don’t regret any of those moments that happened to me in the past.”

Ten years later, the Asia’s Multimedia Star remains on top of his game in fulfilling his dreams. He is now one of the country’s premier actors, a top celebrity endorser, a highly talented host, an award-winning performer, a chart-topping recording artist, a record-breaking box office star, and yes, even a successful businessman.

To celebrate a decade of breakthroughs in his career and to pay tribute to his fans’ unwavering love and support, Alden banners the country’ s first ever virtual reality concert – “Alden’s Reality” – slated to happen this Tuesday, December 8. 

A musical treat from the Kapuso star also awaits his fans as he is set to debut his latest single during his highly-anticipated concert. 

The song entitled “Goin’ Crazy” is a collaboration between Alden, GMA Music, and FlipMusic Productions. It was composed by Pow Chavez and was arranged by Rap Sanchez. It was also produced by Pow and Rap, with Kedy Sanchez as Supervising Producer.

“I’ve done a few singles in the past but this is one of my favorites. I’ll be launching the single and performance on the day of the concert. It’s very timely, especially because we’re all in community quarantine right now. Sobrang chill lang and I enjoyed recording it,” explained Alden. 

Reaching 10 years in the entertainment industry is a big feat. Alden attributes his success to the trust of his home network and his legions of fans who have been with him since day one and which continue to grow as he ventures into new projects.

He said, “Malaki po ang pasasalamat ko sa tiwalang ibinigay ng GMA sa akin at sa suporta ng mga tao throughout my career. I’m really grateful to them kasi I would never reach 10 years without these people.

“Kasi siyempre ang success is best experienced when you share it with other people who are with you. So doon po ako pinaka-blessed, to have people who encourage me, who give me unconditional love and support. That’s what I’m really grateful for and that’s what keeps me going in this industry.”

Produced by Synergy: A GMA Collaboration, “Alden’s Reality” is also GMA Network’s treat to loyal Kapuso as the country’s leading broadcast company marks its 70th anniversary. Joining Alden as special guests are brothers Rodjun and Rayver Cruz as well as OPM band December Avenue. The concert is directed by Paolo Valenciano. To be part of Alden’s Reality, visit http://www.gmanetwork.com/synergy.

Meanwhile, “Goin’ Crazy” will be available for streaming on YouTube Music, Spotify, Apple Music, and across all other digital platforms worldwide beginning December 9. 

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‘See You This Christmas;’ Another meaningful song from Nicole Laurel Asensio

CELEBRITY WORLD PH

By Crispina M. Belen

‘See You This Christmas;’ Another meaningful song from Nicole Laurel Asensio

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I couldn’t help but admire with all my soul and  might singer-songwriter Nicole Laurel Asensio for being so creative during the pandemic. While others succumbed to the anxiety and stress of  the situation, Nicole spend her time productively – using her gift of music from God!

In sharing how the song came into fruition, Nicole said she couldn’t help thinking: “Over months, we have taken to new realizations and revelations of the soul. Some who had never touched a wooden spoon before have now become masters of the oven. Some have noticed that office hours have multiplied as work extended far past cubicle confines. Blazers paired with boxers have become a fashion statement, Some slept and slept and slept cashing in on years of sleepless nights from once working tirelessly. Some, a brave few, our front-liners, have stayed on, fighting for us. After all, it was like we were in a backwards war, where the enemy was invisible and constantly around us and the only way to care for those we loved was to keep our distance and wear masks that hid our smiles from them.”

“But what of those who have gone all these long months without holding the ones they loved? What of those who have gone many nights expressing their innermost desires and intimate moments through lenses and screens? What of those who had to bid a loved one farewell through an iPad? What of wearing a mask under a shield, inside a car? What of those who lost everything they once owned and were left with how’s and why’s? What about those of us who sat here waiting this whole time for someone to return and bring back a sense of the holiday spirit we were used to somehow?”

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But she snapped out of it, reprimanding herself as she said “pull it back, Nicole, there is much to be grateful for… tragedies happen every year, don’t they?” But somehow this year was different for so many of us, because because it happened to so many of us, in so many different ways.”

It was well into November 2020 and she was wondering why she was putting up a tree when it was more than obvious that she wasn’t feeling very festive. “I think I’ll stop for now, maybe try decorating again tomorrow.” 

It was in the shower, humming randomly of a melody she said, when she thought of all the people and opportunities she missed dearly, maybe even places she would have traveled to by now if not for the virus.  

“It’s been a long, long year waiting, pushing our dreams aside… sitting by windows commiserating, waiting for the city lights to come alive. Indeed, many dreams were shelved for now. But I couldn’t help but feel like despite it all, I was exactly where I needed to be. There is, after all, a reason for everything…..pick yourself up,’ I thought. The melody continued just as the hot running water built a faint steam. 

“Minus the fanfare, commercial craziness and lauded efforts we make to celebrate December…. What truly was the meaning of Christmas after all? Wasn’t it about giving HIM thanks, praise and glory for all he has done for us? And in that light, therefore, being kind to others, giving and  forgiving? 

“We’ll revel in the love of our savior above, ‘Goodbye Blue December, Hello, love.’

“Even if we recount everything the pandemic took away from us… and were left with our hearts quiet, perhaps, we could still celebrate the true meaning of Christmas without the fanfare.”  

After fifteen minutes,  the song was done. The steam cleared from the room, Nicole cleared away the lump in her throat, lit a candle, poured two small glasses of whiskey and tapped Ira Cruz on the shoulder. “I think I have a Christmas themed song. Would you like to help me navigate through the melody and chords?”

After she and Ira had made a simple demo, Nicole called her friend, a talented musical director and arranger, Nikko Rivera. Nikko and his wife would often have pre-Christmas dinners with her, and “I missed them dearly and thought it would only be right to ask him to arrange my simple composition.”

This time around there were some limitations, Nicole realized. She was working on a very conservative out-of-pocket budget, no recording sessions in public spaces and so “we each made use of our resources safely at home. We rounded up a collective of five savvy musicians with home set-ups to carry out my simple sultry tune. Lawrence Nolan on drums, Simon Tan on upright bass, Nikko Rivera on keys, Michael Guevarra on flute and Lester Sorilla, who after rigid protocols came over to record in my attic. The recording went smoothly and was complete in two days, then sent to Angee Rozul for mixing and Abbey Road Studios UK for mastering.”

Nicole knew that going big on production didn’t make sense at this time, and for an independent, self-produced artist, it also has its challenges following protocols. “So, we kept it simple with The Gward Inc’s most skeletal crew and shot the music video solo in a friend’s home. At this point I was just truly grateful that friends from different corners of the industry would chime in and help. The production was intimate, generous and heartfelt, My dresses were borrowed, my makeup was done by my classmate back in college, the location was lent by a friend… and I would just smile in my quiet moments, thankful and teary eyed because the people around me just gave and gave and I had no reason not to feel the spirit of Christmas. They gave pieces of their time and talent to make this project mean something to those who could not be with their loved ones this Christmas.

After the shoot, they had four days to edit and get the materials out into the airwaves. Nicole said “ I trudged back into the steamy shower (where I get most my ideas) tired, but fulfilled. As dawn creeped in I lit a candle and thought of my father in heaven, those friends who were also up there looking down at our crazy world, ex lovers who’d never know how much has changed in the years between us… and took a deep breath and thought. “We’re getting through… we’re doing it right…. We’re okay… by God’s grace, we’re okay…. And we’re exactly where we need to be.” 

We’re all a little broken, but strangely enough, we’re all a little stronger and hopefully, smarter too. We’re less about the decor and wrappers and more about the stuff inside, everything we’ve learned this year. After all, one way or another we have all survived something this year, we have all changed somehow, whether we choose to admit it or not. 

“Moving forward into 2021, one day we might celebrate with all the fanfare again. Life might slip back into the comforts we once knew, life as we knew it… But I hope we remember that we didn’t really need all of that glaze to draw meaning from a Covid-time Christmas, and that Christmas has not lost its meaning, but probably means more now.

“One day we will share our special Christmas, and If I get lucky, then I’ll never let you go. If Christmas is the season for giving love, I will always love you more than you’ll ever know.”

“See you this Christmas.”

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