An Evening With Pilita In Chicago

by Joseph G. Lariosa

GLENVIEW, Illinois (FAXX) – Like wine, Pilita Corrales is better than ever.

She never missed a beat. Her signature gyrating body language was still intact and her “melodious voice” never left her.

That is why when the hundreds –maybe 500 – who bundled themselves to watch her inimitable performance were not disappointed during Gerellie Productions, Inc.’s “A Valentine Show With Disco Dancing” on Feb. 14 at the Wyndham Glenview Suite at 1400 North Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago’s suburban Glenview, Illinois.

 

Loreto Figueroa, Jr., 54, who is now an employee of the Chicago Transit Authority, was pleasantly surprised when told that we just came from a concert of Pilita Corrales.  He said he was a student at the University of the East taking up banking and finance in late seventies. He said his classmates were always watching the stage shows led by Corrales at the Dalupan U.E. Theater. He is amazed at the enduring stamina of the Cebuana singer.

But another lady said she was ten years old in 1965 when she was already watching a popular TV show, “An Evening With Pilita,” from her neighbor’s television screen. She said Pilita might have found the “Holy Grail of youth.”

But Veronica Leighton, local publisher (Via Times) and TV anchor of (Chicago Philippine Reports TV), was guarded when sought for comment of Corrales’ one-night stand. She said, “I enjoyed the show. Pilita is looking almost the same – very, very pretty & sexy (is that salamat po doc?). Her voice is still melodious and has the same timber. Although, it seems that she’s having a little difficulty reaching some high notes with some of her renditions.”

FOUND “FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

Part-time photojournalist Marlon L. Pecson said Corrales’ stage presence alone is a testimony that she found “the fountain of youth. She looks like forever young. Most of her contemporaries have now retired or faded away.”

Corrales, however, was herself still astonished that she was performing under a very cold weather. She said when she got this call to perform here, she was always watching the news if the snowy weather will ever let her plane land in Chicago.

Most Filipino performers come to Chicago area only during summer season. Corrales’ appearance during the winter is a rarity for Filipino entertainers in the area.

“I will never leave the room. My hands are freezing. I am not used to cold weather. I can never live here, I will die,” she said. But what makes her happy was her brief escape from the everlasting traffic – “I miss the traffic in Manila” that is made more miserable by lovers dating during Valentine that is “celebrated for four days.”

Corrales was introduced by upcoming community singer, Evelyn Dela Rosa Tolledo, who revealed her ethnic identity from the Bikol region in the Philippine province of Catanduanes, when she belted the popular regional folk song, Sarung Bangui (One Night). She also crooned Ray Charles’ “You Don’t Know Me.” Tolledo, president of the Chicago-based Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest (BUSAM), and her BUSAM will be hosting the Bikol National Associations of America (BNAA) convention on July 25-27, 2014 at Hilton Rosemont O’Hare at 5550 N. River Road, Rosemont, Illinois. Tolledo won the Grand Champion Pinoy Karaoke Idol in Chicagoland recently.

Corrales opened with Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Barbara Streisand’s “Free Again” that brought down the house.

In between her sets, she would tell homespun, self-deprecating stories of her adventurous kababayans (countrymates) from her native Cebu, who turn to crimes in Manila, only to find their victims as one of their own. She even joked that her kababayans in Central Philippines, who have been devastated by mega-storm Yolanda (Haiyan), are still capable of smiling. “But with so many shows for fund-raisings (around the world), moneys were sent for help. We hope they go to the victims” an aside that put the crowd on edge.

But she also joked that she would also hear stories from her fellow Filipino performers of not being paid by their host promoters, a comment that brought chuckles.

Corrales mixed her repertoire with such Tagalog kundimans (love songs) as “Ang Pipit” (The Bird, a Levi Celerio composition Corrales popularized) and medley of Visayan, “Pobreng Alindahaw” (Poor Dragonfly), and Spanish, “Ya No Estas Aqui Corazon” (No longer are you at my side, Heart).

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE’S CRY ME A RIVER

She also sang a duet of “Dahil Sa’Yo” (Because of You) with singing priest, Fr. Joel Lopez, who also sang a medley of English and Tagalog songs, “Till I Meet You” (Regine Velasquez), “Kahit Na” (“Even If” by Zsa Zsa Padilla), Dadalhin (I’ll Take You by Regine Velasquez) and Justin Timberlake, “Cry Me a River.”

The Real True Diva composed of Jaimee Llenares, Princess Santos, Rachel Santa Maria, Marvelous Alberto and Christine Sunugan also warmed up the crowd with a collection of musical numbers.

When asked by this reporter of her secret, Corrales said, “I continue to improve my self. Try to change myself. Better myself from my last performance. I keep busy myself all the time.”

What about exercise? The Cebuana chanteuse said, “I walk 30 minutes a day.”

When asked about her food habits, Corrales said, “I eat every two hours because of my acid reflux.”

Corrales, a Leo (born Aug. 22), says she neither smokes nor drinks nor do drugs.

Her visit was her third in Chicagoland and she would be back in Manila Sunday, Feb. 16,  just in time for the taping on Tuesday of her TV programs, “Vampire” and “Confession” on Channel 5.

When she is not busy, she accepts privates shows and birthday celebrations.

Before she left, Corrales surprised Evelyn R. Tolledo, whom she called, “Pilita Junior,” with an invitation to appear with her in her shows in Manila. Tolledo said she was humbled but declined the invitation because of her busy schedule with the upcoming BNAA convention in July. “I will take a rain check” to this tempting offer, Ms. Tolledo demurred.

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PHOTO CAPTION:

PILITA BRINGS WARMTH TO FRIGID CHICAGOLAND-

Forever young Pilita Corrales flashes her signature gyrating form as she sought to let Filipino Americans and friends forget their very frigid weather just for a night Friday (Feb. 14)during Gerellie Productions, Inc.’s “A Valentine Show With Disco Dancing” at the Wyndham Glenview Suite at 1400 North Milwaukee Avenue in suburban Glenview, Illinois in this composite photo at left and at top right with other singers to Corrales’ left Rachel Sta. Maria, a member of The Real True Diva, and Grand Champion Pinoy Karaoke Idol Evelyn Dela Rosa Tolledo, President of Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest (BUSAM).  Photo below at right shows fans, including, Mylene Ongos Hilo (second from left), D.M.D., admiring Corrales’ performance before a standing-room-only audience. Others in the cast include Concert Priest, Fr. Joel Lopez of Chicago’s Sessionistas, and other members of The Real True Diva, namely, Jaimee Llenares, Princess Santos, Marvelous Alberto and Christine Sunugan. (FAXXPhotos by Joseph G. Lariosa & Marlon L. Pecson)

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