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Jessica and the Pacman

Jessica and the Pacman
Ronald Roy — 2012 June 15

Jessica Sanchez, wow!!! Jessica was to me Jessica was to me a clear winner 4 weeks before Phillip Phillips was proclaimed the 11th American Idol (AI). Jessica used her diaphragm like Rice Stevens in Tosca, Shirley Bassey in Goldfinger, Ella Fitzgerald in One of Those Things, and Regine Velasquez in Ikaw.

Jessica can also “blues’em down” and “rock’em up” ala the late Filipino rock icon, Karl Roy, my nephew. Excitingly versatile, she can do Broadway, London, Milan—wherever! The world is at her feet, and she has not yet even started to blaze the professional trail!

Let’s not speculate if there was a racist slant in AI’s nationwide judging. Let’s not blame America if there was. Let’s not even blame ourselves for tolerating “racial” differences between, say, fair-skinned Visayans and dark-skinned Ilocanos. Racial discrimination is a forgivable foible of human nature.

In fairness to Phillips, he won because Americans easily relate to his uncomplicated country music, a genre so folksy it has withstood the tests of time since guitar-playing Roy Rodgers yodeled his first hit in the late 20’s followed by Hank Williams, Elvis Presley and the more recent Kenny Rogers. By the same token, we should not expect Americans to go bonkers over our Kundiman.

Thank you #9229, for remembering a little of my modest musical background. Yes, I cannot read notes. Crooning and songwriting have always been among my hobbies, and my musicality is rooted in the works of such classicists as Rimsky Korsakoff, Stravinsky and Verdi, and, in the contemporary pop world, those of Michel Legrand, Billy Joel and Louie Ocampo.

I was 5 years old when it all started. I often sat on a high stool tracing with one finger on Mom’s ivories the opera arias she used to spin on her phonograph. Thereafter, my interest shifted to singing and at age 11 even guested in an amateur contest aired on DZRH.

Fast forward. My biggest kicks came in the following order: 1. One evening at home when I was playing “Misty” on the piano, a strange romantic melody flowed out of my unschooled hands, and in an hour “Concierto ng Pagasa” was born. Two years later, it was arranged for the Philippine Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra’s presentation at the weekly Concert at the Park hosted by Tina Monzon-Palma. At the grand piano was the virtuoso Joselito Pascual, and behind the baton was Prof. Regalado Jose.

2. In 1966 at the Waldorf Astoria’s dining room, I directly sang to Frank Sinatra his yet-to-be-released “September of My Years”and my own comical parody of “Stranglers in the Night.” He guffawed with Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and a few others. As the 49 year old Chairman of the Board left, he turned and said: “Hey kid, when I was your age 17 years ago, I sounded just like you did!”

3. Months before he passed away, Manila Hotel guest Henry Mancini, after hearing Pascual’s keyboard interpretation of my work, “A Touch of Summer”, approached me to say: “What a beautiful melody, Mr. Roy, beautiful!” The composition is a favorite of Lulu Casas-Quezon, the mother of Manolo Quezon III, and, to my knowledge, was also Bubby Dacer’s pet tune before he was abducted.

4. On the request of LawAsia of the Philippines Chair Raul I. Goco, I wrote the lyric and music of the LawAsia Anthem which, for over a dozen years now, has served as the opening number of LawAsia’s biennial Conferences in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Each time I’m invited to judge a singing contest, I get my fellow judges to agree on a set of criteria. As a judge, I am partial to technique and expression. For example, Vic Damone’s technical finesse for a ballad is tops in the world, but nobody can hold a candle to Frank Sinatra’s expressiveness for the same ballad. Charisma is hardly a factor. Louie Armstrong had none of it, but he was number one among soul’s black growlers.

Judges and contestants must understand the entered songs. Lyric sheets are imperative for judging. Once, as chair of a board of five, I broke a deadlock between two crowd favorites by voting as winner an uncharismatic tenor, sending to cry her heart out a beauteous warbler. My tie-breaker was booed, hence, I explained: I’m sorry, but Alma did not understand “Send in the Clowns”, a very sad song from a musical play. She was smiling all throughout and even woefully adlibbed this way “…me here at last on the ground, you in mid-air, ha ha ha ha ha …” obviously believing it was a funny song about clowns.

I must confess I could not competently judge AI on television because I held no lyric sheets in my hands. Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson, professional musicians all, were competent jurors who did some researching on all the songs. Unfortunately, it was a national jury—most of whom did not understand the songs—that was governed by AI’s protocol. Jessica therefore did the right thing by graciously accepting the verdict.

If a singer understands the song, a lot of other things follow like body language, expression, real tears, real smirks, and what have you. Consequently, such a singer becomes a “performer”. Additionally, the singer must possess an attractive voice quality, control, range, voice placement, belting power and other attributes demanded by the songs he/she has opted to sing. To illustrate: Humperdinck is a crooner, a belter and a heck of a performer. Perry Como is only a crooner, like Mathis.

Jessica Sanchez will peak on the global stage within the next two years. She’s a bundle of “pure talent”waiting to be launched into the sky and explode like fireworks at the countdown from 10 on New Year’s Eve, alas, unlike the “pure muscle” named Manny Pacquiao who may have passed the peak that he had maintained for 5 years before his bout with Timothy Bradley!

I had Pacman the winner at 8 rounds to 4 and just like the rest of the world including Bradley himself, I was shocked by the split decision. At 33, he may have prematurely decelerated physically, emotionally, and mentally, 35 being recognized by science as the male athlete’s zenith.

I guess only Manny can explain things. For instance, I’d like him to disclaim the strategy I suspect he adopted after the sixth round that would have him coast out the first 120 seconds then step on the gas through the last 60 seconds of the round, in order to conserve strength and, more importantly, to “create the so-called lasting impression” before the bell rings.

At any rate, Manny has two more years before reaching 35, the age of mandatory retirement. That’s what doctors require, and only in highly exceptional cases can an athlete be extended, as in the case of Michael Jordan who was given an extra year.

Professional boxing is big, big business in Las Vegas, Nevada, the gambling capital of the world, where total bets sometimes surpass the projected earnings for the contending camps! Was there “conspiracy” in the Pacquiao-Bradley fight that ran in the millions of dollars beneath the official scorecards? Perhaps. But then again, in a world gone decadent, the presumption is: YES.

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