Tonight the young saw what a president looks like | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Last week was great. I must say that the absolute highlight was a last-minute invite to watch Josh Groban in concert at the MOA Arena. I knew the show was sold out, so I was over the moon.


I love Groban’s voice. His songs are beautiful.


And to have Lea Salonga with him, even for only two duets, was a fabulous bonus.


It was her birthday. Forty-eight? Oh my, time does fly.


Lea looked stunning, even sitting in a wheelchair. About a month ago, she had a skiing accident in Hokkaido.


But she was wonderful. Even from her chair, she hit those high notes as she always does, pitch perfect, effortless, and making it look so easy. They did “All I Ask of You” from “Phantom of the Opera” and “The Prayer,” both monster hits here at home and all over the world.  It was obvious the crowd wanted more. I know I did. I heard a lady behind me grumble, “Bitin!” It really was!


The audience loved Groban. He is an articulate and witty raconteur but he knows to quickly get back down to the business of singing. It is, after all, what he does best.


No gimmicks


The show did not have any fancy trappings or gimmicks. The sets were simple. Lighting was dramatic without getting in your way. The sound was superb. A huge LED screen was the main and only backdrop. It showed live feed of the performance as well as relevant video.


But somehow, I don’t think Josh Groban is big-screen material. I was distracted thinking he should have at least had his facial hair groomed. Also, that he could have used a haircut.


He had no costume changes.  Which is okay, I guess. But beside Christian Bautista’s Libiran suit, he lacked a little luster.  By the way, Bautista did a few songs as a prelude to the concert and then did a duet with his “idol.” He has a formidable voice.


The concert was flawless. I loved every single song, even those I was not too familiar with. It was a perfect night.


Well, almost.


When it was over, I was disgusted to see the rubbish people had no qualms leaving behind. Paper plates, cups, candy wrappers, bottles, popcorn bags, even a soiled baby’s diaper all strewn in the aisles and under the seats.


This would never happen in Japan. Is this a Pinoy thing? Judging from the stories about the Pasig and Manila Bay, I am inclined to think it is. What is the matter with us?


By the way, the unsightly debris was in the expensive section of the Arena. There were scalpers outside before the show. People in those seats paid huge amounts of money just to get in. Just goes to show you that the high price of a ticket does not guarantee the quality of the person using it. Shameful!




My friend from New York sent me a message a week or so ago. It is he who keeps me abreast of world events. He also loves to argue. This was at the time that US President Trump had called a national emergency. He wanted to know what I thought. My friend is a devout Republican.


I was not in the mood. And what I said next infuriated him.


I told him, “I really have not thought about it. Besides, it’s not my circus, not my clowns.”


“What has happened to you? You used to be so involved. But lately, I have seen you more excited over a recipe for steamed rice.”


And he was right. Seriously, I have often asked myself if I have slipped into what they call comatose complacency. A few people I know have actually given up hoping and praying. Sad.


So a few days ago my daughter and I fell in line to attend a democracy forum. I wanted to see if there was something still alive in me, if there is a little part of me that still gives a damn.


It was billed as “A Conversation with Hon. Benigno S. Aquino III, former president of the Philippines.”


And that’s exactly what it was. The ADM auditorium at Rockwell Center was packed.  They had to add chairs.


It felt good to see familiar faces.


Nationalistic songs played before the program. They made me sad.


There were no speeches. And despite the impending May elections, there was no campaigning. I was frankly surprised, and pleased.


PNoy walked in wearing a barong. The audience gave him a rousing welcome. His former spokesperson, Edwin Lacierda, moderated.


PNoy answered numerous questions, all pertinent and relevant to the times. He was personal, intimate, not bombastic, never defensive, factual, delivered in his typical self-effacing manner. He was candid. Humble. Fair.


He was comfortable and so was the audience. It was like chatting with an old friend.


He didn’t make light of questions from worried citizens; he didn’t belabor the obvious issues either. There were no insults. Nothing he said made anyone cringe. I regret not having taken down notes. There was much wisdom in his words.


I am glad I went. It was like taking a swish of fresh minty water in my mouth and it took the bad taste away. It was like taking a breath of fresh air.


When I went to bed that night I was happy. I thought: Tonight many young men and women saw what a president looks like.


Yes, I care after all.