Charice: The luckiest loser

Album artwork of Charice' US-produced album

Do you know who Gian Barbarona is? Probably not, but that’s forgivable. Gian was just some boy who lost to Sam Concepcion in the 2005 ABS-CBN talent show, Little Big Star. Gian was 2nd place, beating that little girl who settled for 3rd. That little girl was Charice Pempengco, now simply know as Charice.

Now this girl Charice – you probably know her by now. You’ve heard her story. You knew about her appearance in a Korean show, wowing, among others, Korean supergroup Super Junior. You’ve heard about her YouTube videos that led her to different platforms from Ellen’s Warner Brothers studios set to Celine Dion’s Madison Square Garden stage. Recently, she became the first Filipino (some even say, first Asian) to debut at the top 10 of the Billboard 200.

She got lucky and she knows it. In one interview, she acknowledges that there are a hundred other girls in the Philippines who can sing exactly like her. She looks short and she’s not stick thin, breaking the mold of the American tween pop sweetheart. She’s  has superpowers others do not have, superpowers known as Oprah and David Foster. She has the machinery of a mainstream record label and publicists with the media savvy to make outlets like Perezhilton, Just Jared and Disney Radio like her.

But most importantly, she has the backing of the worldwide Filipino community. She recently stunned Toronto when she filled a mall with black heads during her album promo tour. Suddenly, she has a fan base far greater and stronger, even than that of Sam Concepcion’s and Gian Barbarona’s voters combined.

Filipinos rallied behind her because, like it or not, she is the Pinoy’s latest chance at finally cracking the international mainstream music scene, and we can feel that she actually has a shot. We have tried before with the likes of Banig, Lea Salonga, Jocelyn Enriquez and Jasmine Trias, only to achieve modest chart successes. (Don’t say Black Eyed Peas and Pussycat Dolls cause that’s different).

But amidst this Filipino admiration comes the bitter poison that comes with every stroke of luck one gets. Charice, dubbed by Oprah as one of the world’s most talented kids, is also the one of the internet world’s most hated. And most of these hatred come from Pinoys too.

Check out her videos on YouTube and even posts about her on blogs. For every positive post she gets, mostly from people who haven’t even heard of her before, there pops a Pinoy somewhere saying things like “Well, we really hate her here in the Philippines,” or “There are more singers here in the Philippines who are better and more attractive than her.”  There are some more Pinoys who are filled with inexplicable rage just because they can’t stand the singer’s singing voice or the way she speaks English.

Fact is, while some people think it makes them feel better to say Charice does not deserve her magnificent stroke of luck, she doesn’t deserve that kind of hate either. If she got noticed by the international audience, that is because she has talent to begin with. Go give her a chance. Buy her album and listen to it. Do you know, that even though she’s been trained all her life to sing big old-woman wailer songs, her voice and perfromance transcends well to contemporary pop music? Do you know she can rap? Do you know that given the right material, she can actually sound fresh, young and original? Do you know that given the limits of the materials (having been positioned to capture the tween pop Miley Cyrus/Taylor Swift market), she can actaully make her vocals stand out nonetheless?

Full disclosure: I, the writer, do not like Charice very much as well because the first records she made wasn’t really my kind of music and she is in that awkward phase where she doesn’t know whether to act like a kid or a grown-up so her actions come off as annoying (especially when she’s hosting ASAP, oh God). But I do not go flooding internet threads about her of my hatred and disdain. I may not be her biggest fan, but I want her to succeed. She works hard, she has talent, she’s got her chance, let’s all give her a break.

Charice, the talent show loser, may not be the best artist we can offer the world, but right now, she is our best chance. And there are only two things you can do for her: support her, or leave her alone.

(Note: By “support her”, I do not mean reminding the world every minute that Charice is a Filipino and typing “Mabuhay ang Pinoy!” or “Proud to be Pinoy” every minute you get. I tell you, that’s annoying and that doesn’t help her at all. Trust me.)



  1. I am a Canadian and I have never in my lifetime experienced a singer with a voice that stirs up emotions from deep within. Charice’s voice is beyond stunning. I don’t know what’s not to like about her. Her joyful self-confidence is a reflection of her youth. I do not know what the Filipino standard is but Charice is by far the best female vocalist to come out from anywhere in the world.

  2. i so agree with you. i hate those posts saying proud to be pinoy and stuff like that as much as i do with the haters… & as what i ahve observe, they only post that on videos of people who gets recognition abroad… can’t we be proud of people making it big here in the philippines??? who gave a damn to charice after little big star? NO ONE! they were only proud because she made it to hollywood… and she wan’t even discovered by ellen in the philippine. technically she was discovered thru a video of her IN STAR KING in SK. when we watched LBS we were already familiar with cahrice because we saw her join a LOT of singing contests before and shes really good, but we knew that with talent alone she will not win in the kind of system the philippines have.

    i do not like charice and i still believe that there are a LOT of filipinos who can sing better than her, but i don’t go hating and posting rude comments about her…( well i did rant about it with my sister at the beginning :P) but yeah…

    and it just sucks that the haters are filipinos as well.. & this happens to every artists… you cannot watch a decent video of srah geronimo, ladiva or kyla without anyone saying they are pangit, or pango,or retokada… hell, most of them judge them but how they look and not with their singing. crab talaga ang mga filipinos.

  3. hayz! that’s so Pinoy! Crab mentality, I guess! Or no, these Pinoys may have really the point to hate her but like what you’ve said, let her succeed on her own way. She doesn’t deserved to be treated that way. If you don’t like her, then leave her alone!

  4. give her a break for a not-so-obvious reason.

    1. charice is inherently “political”, through the whole story of her life and success.
    the “amerian dream” actually happened now within the philippines, disliked sure by some outdated powers. and it happened already before oprah kicked in and became catalytic.
    because those youtube play counts were significant already before, and audience was mixed already before.

    2. charice is versatile and she is interested in future, not on the past. this is about style.
    if she does not harmonize well within ASAP, this may be due to weakness of directors also. so far, it was only PP that really “modernized”, and looks like did in a good way.
    but the most important thing is, charice is exactly successful internationally because she is like she is.

    in western showbiz, especially european (which is often used as input to US projects, in it’s “underground state”), it is fully legit to a woman on stage to break most societal rules, especially about how a woman “has to behave”! now please get that! it is part of personality and creativity. I am totally not a fan of amy winehouse, but not from the general fact she is “different” but in her case my heart is feeling negativity in the root. but so many other female rock singers can be boyish, dorky, lesbians (like joan jett), IT DOES NOT COUNT! they are megastars because they are what they are and can entertain with quality.

    please, give charce the freedom to be who she is, or you will ruin her career.

  5. Its true that Charice wouldn’t be where she is right now without the big people behind her but the thing is they are supporting her because she made them believe in her. Whenever Charice is given a chance she seizes it, performs with all her heart & CREATES her own opportunities. Charice has that attitude that commands your attention, the same stage presence that most Filipinos see as cockiness/boastfulness. This is what separates her from the rest of our local singers.

    Most of those Charice haters whine that there are better singers than Charice whom they feel will be a better representative if only given the the same opportunities. I find this excuse lame because Amy Nolasco, Philip Nadela & Rhap Salazar were also given the same venues where Charice first performed ( Star King & Ellen Degeneres respectively) & nothing happened. In this digital age, NOTHING is hindering those “better singers” from being discovered. ALL Filipino singers/artists from those in ASAP, PARTY PILIPINAS down to local competitions have videos in Youtube as well. So, my only question is why are they not being gobbled up by international producers/ machineries that many think Charice was LUCKY to have?

  6. am just wondering, Did Charice harm anyone personally or otherwise. Why hate her? The poor little girl is just making a decent living like all OFWs are.
    If she’s lucky, that’s her fate. I think everyone will do the same given such opportunity. BTW, I’m an OFW and is proud of Charice not only because she got an extraordinary talent but also of the inspirations and messages in her singing and attitudes. To all haters, walang personal, trabajo lng ginagawa ni charice. mabait na bata yan.

  7. I’m glad that Charice has the patience and perseverance to go ahead despite derogatory remarks hurled against her by some Pinoys who “hate” her for no reason. On the other hand, compared to the ever-growing number of fans she has, the haters are only a trickle. Charice continues to soar to the top at a dizzying speed, and nothing can stop her, particularly not the raging-mad Pinoy haters.

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