Memo to the Dying 06:
To: Lea Salonga’s Filipina Identity
Estimated Day of Death: The Broadway Premiere of Allegiance
Suggested Final Act: Give Us a Voice Lesson
Lea, we love you. We will always be proud of you. We are grateful that you claim that you are a Filipina.
But really, you are not. Not anymore. You have crossed-over from being world-class to a world citizen. You belong to the world now, the world population consider you as “theirs”.
Edith Piaf was a world-class talent but remained defiantly French. Kate Winslet is a world-class actress but is still decidedly British. Michelle Yeow has international recognition but looks and acts Malaysian Chinese. But you – and Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and a handful of artists – have crossed international boundaries and become, well, global citizens.
Your body of work runs the gamut of archetypal polarities:
Waif (Eponine) and Princess(Jasmine);
Whore (Fantine) and Innocent Virgin (Cinderella);
Young Wonder (Annie) and Old Hag (Grizzabella);
Martyr (Kim) and Warrior (Mulan).
You can play any female archetype now and still be believable.
Saying that you are a Filipina is like saying Manny Pacquiao is a politician. It is a fact; but it is not true.
The downside of that is losing your right and privilege to comment on our national affairs. Of course you can always do that, the way you put a voice to the RH campaign, but we will consider it an intrusion. You are an outsider now. But before the premier of Allegiance drives home that point, there is one final act I ask of you.
Give Filipina singers a voice lesson.
You are a Lyric Soprano, right? If I am not mistaken you are light lyric. Do you know how many young female singers in the Philippines now have soft, clear, light voices like yours? None!. All of their voices are strained, stretched, and screeched to become birit queens. For the Filipinos, female stardom can only be achieved if you can reach High F’s – a tradition started by Regine Velasquez. Before her, the singing superstars were contraltos – Nora Aunor, Sharon Cuneta, Kuh Ledesma. But now, that voice won’t get you past the elimination rounds of reality shows. You have to shout and hit the ceilings. The only superstar with a low voice is an androgynous lesbian named Aiza Seguera. She is a rarity, how is that?
Please teach these people that singing is more than hitting high notes; and to be a singer is not about recording a song or performing on stage.
It is like saying Manny Pacquiao is a singer. It is a fact; but it is not true.