Sunday, April 17, 2005

Eyesore on Philippine TV

As I was watching my favorite Sunday noon time program SOP (trivia: SOP means Sobrang Okey Pare. But now, the network uses it as an acronym for seasonal tag lines such as “Summer’s Only Party,” etc.), I was surprised to see performer KEITH MARTIN onstage with Ogie Alcasid and Kyla. I thought he already left the country for good after staying off the limelight for quite some time.

But no. Keith Martin never left the country since performing on a major concert at the Araneta Coliseum (I think) about a year or two ago (or is it three?). I thought after months of vacation and partying in the posh streets of Manila, he got tired of the slow and third world life in the Philippines and decided to leave for his homeland… But nah. He lingered. He stayed. I heard he even purchased a condominium unit in a luxurious residence site in Makati.

I also hear that he still performs weekly in some five-star hotels and casinos in Manila and other Metropolitan cities. And he has this VJ girlfriend. In fact, I saw this couple around December last year at Greenbelt 3. My lady and I took the shabby taxi cab they rode on the way. Even the taxi driver was surprised to have Mr. “Because of You” as his passenger that evening.

Does he have the necessary papers? I recall that sometime last year, a reporter from ABS-CBN attempted an ambush interview with our “overstaying” foreign performer. All she received were skirts and kilts, and she never really got the answers she needed. And as an icing on the cake, Martin even made derogatory remarks about the reporter’s line of questioning. He even called the entire interview “stupid,” if I recall correctly. What a way to pay back the people that resurrected his career.

I was appalled to see him around in shows and other programs in local TV. I have to admit that his song “Because of You” became the national anthem of Filipino lovers because we are natural suckers to melodrama and romance. However, after a few months of making to the top of the Filipino music charts, economically speaking, there was a diminishing marginal utility for the song once it is aired and heard over and over again. The enthusiasm for the song slowly waned, and eventually diminished. And after multiple revivals from the country’s best singers (e.g. Jed Maddela, Kyla), I think his version has already been forgotten.

His attempts for a follow up were rather futile. He made a follow up album, but I don’t think it even reached platinum in record sales. His second single did not touch the hearts of Filipino romanticizers the same way Because of You did. Even in the Philippines, he is a familiar “one-hit-wonder.”

I really don’t know what his plans are in the country, but I do believe that he does not deserve as much attention as the other premier native vocalizers. In fairness, Keith Martin has a wonderful voice, but that is not a reason for him to stay in the country longer than expected. Are the immigration officials into this?

This just reflects our negative culture of colonial mentality in the arts. Even though his music was hit several years ago, Keith Martin’s presence was embraced by Filipinos by the mere fact that he is foreign. He was not the first one to do it on Philippine soil. Remember David Pomeranz? And the latest: the Cascades?! They capitalize on nostalgia and Western appeal just to revive their already forgotten careers. What hurts more is that we Filipinos get to pay them their value centuries ago even if their value in their native homeland is nil at present time.

Well, the bottom line is I don’t know why he is still here…

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