It was an ordinary rainy Sunday afternoon inside a Filipino Restaurant. As early as twelve noon, my fellow countrymen started to occupy the tables, preparing themselves for the upcoming show that will begin in a matter of minutes. The host of the event was busy memorizing his spiel in one corner while the sound engineer “Check-sound-check” the microphone and prepared minus one CD’s that will be used by the thirty-five semi-finalists. The restaurant crews were as busy as ever as Filipino food touch landed in every table.
It was the search for the next “Pinoy Idol in Singapore 2009” and the featured merienda of the day was Pancit Palabok.
Somewhere in the corner of the restaurant is a table for four. I sat there peacefully together with Eloisa, Jheng and my fellow semi-finalist, Raymond. I was leaning on the glass window beside me watching raindrops rolling down the pane. It was a heavy downpour. I was tempted to perform a raindance but I dropped the idea. "Feeling mo naman ikaw si John Lloyd!", Jheng objected.
The show opened with the host thanking the sponsors. He then introduced the four judges, one being a local artist-slash-businessman while the other three were past winners of the coveted title. Without further a do, one by one the finalists were invited to go on stage. Each one dared to strut their stuff to impress the not so impressed judges. All were vying for the “Idol” stature, some thousand Singapore dollars and a Philippine TV guesting in Unang Hirit, S.O.P. and Master Showman (Airfare sponsored by Cebu Pacific…It’s time everyone flies.)
The room temperature’s dropping but I was sweating profusely as if I’m swimming in my own excrement. There’s a fluttering sensation in my stomach and a lump in my throat. In my head was a merry-go-round of the lyrics that I’ve been trying to memorize since the day before. The words “Don’t forget the lyrics!” kept on touting my mind. I can’t speak. My tongue shrank. My heart was about to jump off my chest. It was at this moment that I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, locked my palms and uttered, “So help me God”.
Finalist number twelve Raymond has just finished singing his piece. It was Ariel Rivera’s “Sana Kahit Minsan”. The audience gave him a round of applause as he took his leave. Moments later, when the instrumental ending faded completely ("...sana kahit miiiiinsaaaaaannn..."), the host was back on stage to introduce the next perspirant….I mean aspirant.
“And now, our 13th finalist, please welcome Ms. E-be-ne-zer Dominguez!”, said the bald, vertically challenged, unfunny host.
“Ayos! Lapastanganin daw ba ang pangalan ko”, I said to myself obviously disappointed by the way this mongrel introduced me to the public as a she. I mean, I can understand that my name is not common and that some people find it difficult to pronounce. Fair enough. But seriously, does it sound like a girl’s name? Ever heard of Mr. Scrooge? A Christmas Carol?
Moving on, I took it as if it was pronounced correctly. I stood up, walked through the barricade of tables and chairs until I finally found my way to the stage – the room’s center of attraction.
“Sorry akala ko kasi pangalan ng babae yung Ebenezer”, the host’s way of welcoming me, whose apologetic tone isn’t worthy of my pardon.
I just smiled anyway.
Then a conversation between the two of us commenced. Maybe it’s a standard operating procedure for the hosts to ask questions so that the guest may feel more comfortable being on stage, or so I thought.
“What’s your profession?”, - I.T. po.
“How old are you?”, - 25 po.
“How long have you been staying here in Singapore?”, - one year and three months po
“Are you Single? Married? Separated?”, - Single po.
“By the way, you’re cute!”, - ah...eh...
“Oh you know computers? That’s great! Maybe you can fix me? Err, I mean my computer.” - ahh...sige po.
Finally the host ended the chat and introduced me once again to the audience.
So there I was, standing in front of the crowd. My eyes wandered one hundred eighty degrees and took a panoramic shot of the space in front of me. A space that is now occupied by hundreds of heads, each head with a pair of eyeballs staring at me, probably scrutinizing my brown Springfield long sleeves or analyzing my faded jeans or lambasting the white striped Lacoste shoes I’m wearing. There must be some kind of a fashion police hiding somewhere in the crowd Geiger countering my appearance…talking about paranoia.
But there were also some who doesn’t seem to care about my existence. I saw a few people busy with their mobile phones; some are still enjoying the scrumptious pancit palabok on their plates while others were engaged in conversations with their amigos and amigas. There was a guy talking in whispers to the lady on his left while looking at me… they both giggled like teenagers.
On the other hand, the judges were all smiles. I saw the local artist-slash-businessman scribbling something on a piece of paper lying flat on the judges’ wooden table. I thought that was my scorecard.
I was waiting for the floor to crack open and devour me whole into the abyss. This is why I hate coffee.
But there's no time to back out. I’m here. It’s now or never. My one shot, one blow.
The music started playing. The guitar intro of Edwin McCain’s “I’ll be” began to stimulate my auditory nerves. I took a deep breath, looked down; eyes closed and then whispered, “Lord sing with me.”
So was the genesis of my four minutes…
It’s show time…
To be continued…