Guidelines for foreign musicians visiting the Philippines

Dear gods, Justin Bieber was here in Manila last night, while I was yearning to go to the Mr. Big concert (laziness won out in the end, but oh my Paul Gilbert, what I would have given to have been in your presence 18 years ago). I heard about the concert from someone in my yoga class when she told us how she had to accompany her daughter to the event. Kind of cool of her, really, I couldn’t imagine my mother going with me to a concert I desperately wanted to see when I was her daughter’s age. Then again, I wanted to see Bon Jovi at the age of 12, so maybe it’s not the same thing.

Anyway, Bieber. I’m indifferent towards the boy, since I haven’t really heard his music to know whether or not he is odious, but I do have to say that his face disturbs me. He looks quite girly, for one thing, and I can’t see why young girls are crazy about him. Then again (again), as a 13-year-old, I was heavily into Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall, so what do I know anyway?

Fine, back to Bieber. The boy naturally had interviews and appearances while he was here, and in this interview with, he encountered this question: “Miley’s flying in next month. What’s the nicest thing you can say to her about the Philippines?” to which he answered, “The nicest thing I can say to her about the Philippines? There are a lot of beautiful, beautiful women here.”

Why Miley would need to know that the country is home to beautiful, beautiful women escapes me entirely. And it’s just sad that that’s the nicest thing he had to say about the country. However, he barely spent any time here anyway, after which he might no doubt be either hard-pressed to figure out if there is anything nice to say at all or uncertain which good things to point out.

But anyway, this just puts me in mind of a list of guidelines that foreign musicians should know when they come here.

    1. You will be asked what you think about Filipinas, because people seem hell-bent on pimping Filipinas to foreigners.
    2. You will be asked what your impressions are about the country even if you’ve barely spent 24 hours here and have seen nothing but the crappy airport, the traffic jams, your hotel room, and your concert venue.
    3. You will be surprised by the amount of people attending your concert and how well they’ve memorized your songs.
    4. You will be expected to say “Salamat (Thank you),” “Magandang umaga (Good morning),” and “Mahal ko kayo (I love you all).”
    5. You will be asked when you’ll come back again, and you must gush that you really, really want to come back soon and stay longer.

The only proper way for you to behave is to answer questions politely, be generally complimentary about the country in, and make some effort to learn Filipino. In no way are you to badmouth any aspect of the country and the people lest some government official take it upon himself to declare you persona non grata and ban you from our shores–not that you should care, but act with some remorse and deliver a heartfelt apology in case you slip up. Then fly back to your country or the next stop on your tour, shake your head, and tell people around you, “My God, that country was so strange.” But don’t let anyone film or tape you saying that, because we’re a fierce bunch online and you can expect more howls of outrage.

May 11, 2011 by Lynn
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