NEW BEGINNINGS By Bum D. Tenorio, Jr. (The Philippine Star ) Updated March 04, 2012 12:00 AM
Filipino international singing phenomenon Charice.
The Chasters are what the fans of Charice around the world call themselves. They are friendly yet fierce, up-to-date and down-to-earth, happy and hip, beautiful inside and out. All these are also the characteristics of their idol.
In Japan recently, I discovered that Cha is very famous, where the mere mention of her name either to a Japanese immigration officer or to a cashier at the Lawson convenience store will elicit that sweet, revered smile. It’s also not unusual to hear — no less than from a Japanese top honcho of a multinational company or a Literature professor from Sophia University — the lines “Charice is my life” and “No Charice, no life.”
I should know. I heard them. I met them. I horsed around with them at the Tokyo Disneyland.
But the Japanese fans of Charice, called All Japan Chasters (AJC) — with 20 “official officers” and thousands of “unregistered” members — observe propriety that they want their personal love for Charice be separated from the positions they have on their business cards. Their being Chasters keep them “sane” and “human.” Every time Charice is in Japan, they meet her at the airport with a certain degree of candor without necessarily exhibiting too much sense of familiarity because they give the singer her own privacy, “her own moment to feel tired and relax after a long flight from LA.” They are guided only by their love for Charice — a certain kind of love that streams from their unconscious effort to be mesmerized by her musical genius. Oh, they can also sing all her songs, even the Tagalog ones, with pride, with feelings. Some of them have also learned to sing Lupang Hinirang after they saw Charice on TV singing it in one of the fights of pugilist Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas.
When I met up with some of the Chasters in my hotel in Tokyo early February, I cringed when they intimated that they had a banner for me that read “Welcome to Tokyo Ninong Büm of Charice!” Thank heavens they did not unfurl it as I alighted the car, otherwise I could have turned into Frosty the Snowman in the middle of winter in Japan. They also had bouquets for me. I was both flattered and flattened. They also wrote me cards peppered with Thank Yous for being one of those who looked after Charice when she was growing up in Gulod, a barrio in Cabuyao. All these information they learned from archiving articles written about Charice.
In the cold afternoon when they brought me to meet the Niponggo-speaking Mickey Mouse at the Tokyo Disneyland, the members of the AJC wanted to pamper me no end. I had to politely caution them, through Ninfa Tanaka, a Filipina member of the AJC who married a Japanese, that I was definitely not Charice therefore I did not deserve such glorious attention. Noboru Okamoto, who goes by the English name John, spoke up to gently explain: “But you took care of our idol. You taught her pronunciation and English. We will also take care of you.” I rest my case and chased Minnie Mouse instead.
The only thing the AJC requested from me was to tell them stories about Charice. I obliged and regaled them with the humble and humorous side of Charice. I updated them that her movie with Salma Hayek and Kevin James titled Here Comes the Boom will be shown in October this year. I also told them that Charice would be the only female judge in the local version of the worldwide hit talent search, X Factor, on ABS-CBN. As for the resurgence of Sunshine Corazon on Glee, I said I knew something about it but my lips were sealed for the moment. And if plans push through, Charice will do the lead role in the musical film version of a Broadway musical soon. The heat is on in Charice!
Charice is so loved in Japan that her album “Charice” (2010) and “Infinity” (2011) became No. 1 there. At the Disneysea, I hummed “Pyramid” and “Louder” as I navigated my way to the washroom and was surprised that the four Japanese boys behind me also knew how to sing the songs.
Not only that, another proof of Charice’s popularity in Japan — her concert tickets have been sold out months before her Infinity Tour, her first solo concert tour in 10 Asian cities, in Tokyo (March 14), Kobe (March 16) and Nagoya (March 17). This early, many Japanese Chasters, including the corporate leaders and the led, have dyed their hair blonde. Why? Charice, they found out through the Internet, is doing her Infinity concerts with blonde locks. I wonder if the Filipino Chasters, another group of warm, well-meaning, intense yet loving supporters of Charice in the Philippines, will also color their hair when they troop to her concert at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on March 9 and the Cebu Waterfront Hotel on March 11. On their own, they promote her concert by staging motorcades around Metro Manila, the recent ones were done last Feb. 26 and yesterday.
Because the true-blue Chasters around the world — including those in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Poland, Portugal, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Korea, China and the Philippines — are well entrenched and updated in the life of Charice, they also know her concert schedules by heart. Included in her Infinity Tour are Dubai (March 2), Singapore (March 5), Jakarta (March 7), Hong Kong (March 19) and Korea (March 21). In all these concerts abroad, the AJC members told me, tickets have already been sold out.
All these adulations of the Japanese Chasters for Charice, a singing dynamo who first learned to use her powerful vocal chords on top of their dining table at home when she was four, remind me of one story Cha told me when she started to shine in the US in 2008. After one of her four guestings on Oprah, a man named Mr. Schultz went up to Charice to commend her for her beautiful, emotion-filled voice. “I have become an instant fan,” he told Charice. After exchanging short pleasantries, Mr. Schultz asked Charice if she cared for Starbucks coffee. The little girl said she doesn’t drink anything with caffeine but when he insisted, Charice just mentioned in passing that she had a collection of Starbucks mugs. The man and Charice parted ways. The following day, a truckload of Starbucks mugs arrived at the hotel where Charice was staying. Later on, Charice learned from Oprah that Mr. Schultz is the chairman and CEO of Starbucks.
Charice does not drink coffee, yes, but like caffeine, she keeps the AJCs and all the web-savvy Chasters up while surfing the Internet to watch her thousands of videos on YouTube that now have more than 260 million hits. The Chasters are unrelenting in their love for Charice. Their happiness quota is reached when they hear from their idol — via Facebook or Twitter.
And the best they hear from her: “Lab yo!” That’s how Cha expresses her love for her fans.
“Lab yo” all for loving Charice.
(For your new beginnings, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may want to follow me on Twitter @bum_tenorio. Have a blessed Sunday!)
Last edited by clothes_w on March 10th 2012, 12:55 pm; edited 1 time in total