(First of 2 parts)

chariceIF you’re a fan of Charice Pempengco and Arnel Pineda, you might think I’m making fun of your heroes; so to be safe, skip this column and proceed to the Horoscope section.

If you’re still there, it’s nice to know we share the same irritation with anything that devours talents like it’s the Great Famine. It’s double the annoyance when you see the talents yielding like dumb sheep. It’s thrice the exasperation when you can’t change channel without seeing them being interviewed by Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah, Boy and Kris, Sharon Cuneta, Korina Sanchez, and the President of the Philippines.

What’s next, Charice on Al Jazeera?

I don’t have a problem with the country shifting export products from bananas to domestic helpers, to caregivers, to Mexican executioners, and now to miniature divas. I cry genuine tears of Pinoy joy after every Pacquiao fight; and the sight of those rattan chairs providing rest to celebrity butts in Hollywood makes me want to break into a patriotic rendition of Lupang Hinirang.

We should grab all chances of gaining international respect. But damn if we don’t have enough of Charice and Arnel on TV already! The Pinoy can sing, yeah, yeah. Now on to the next guest please.

Charice discovered singing at age 4 and started joining competitions in her province of San Pedro, Laguna at 7. It’s not stated how she fared in these amateur endeavors. My guess is that she kept losing because at that time she was still undecided whom to sound like—Celine Dion, Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey. She ended up idolizing the three equally and went on to win third place in ABS-CBN’s Little Big Star.

This early we already see two omens. First, Little Big Star is patterned after American Idol. ’Nuff said. Second, the Dionne-Houston-Carey triumvirate is the musical equivalent of the meteoric cataclysm that wiped out the dinosaurs. It’s the Apocalypse happening if by some crazy turn of events these three uber-divas get together in one act.

In 2007, a fan ominously named FalseVoice posted Charice’s performances on YouTube, sending our little diva flying to Stockholm, Sweden for a recording contract, then to the US for DeGeneres and Oprah.

That something is not so right about Charice’s instant rise to fame can be gleaned from the Oprah, where she was featured in the show’s World’s Smartest Kids episode. Wait a minute, Charice a kid? She was 16 when she appeared in Oprah!

We can argue at length about the coverage of this unrestricting noun “kid” to even include vertically-challenged presidents in the category. But a quick run through the list of the “children” who were featured in that Oprah episode might help:

1. Guyland Leday, 10, accordionist

2. Nancy Yi, 13, youngest best-selling author in Harper Collins history

3. Abigail Breslin, 12, Oscar nominee who brought one of the most popular American Girl dolls to life on the big screen

4. Lilly Gaskin, 2, geography whiz who can identify more than 100 countries in the map

5. Quincy Eaton, 9, danced his way the Oscars, the Grammys and the Superbowl

6. India’s Kishan Shrikanth, 12, youngest film director in history

7. Julian Pavone, the “Little Drummer Boy” who’s so young he still sits on his mother’s lap when not performing

8. Seven-year-old Rickie Taylor and Erik Linder, ballroom dancers

9. Quinn Sullivan, 9, guitar hero

10. Ethan Bortnick, 7, piano prodigy

11. Charice Pempengco, (age not stated), diva in the making

In the US, 16-year-old “kids” are getting pregnant. (to be continued)

SUN.STAR. DEC. 30, 2008