I don’t remember when or how Bituin and I met and became friends. I do remember when I first saw her perform: it was the musicale Rent showing in Music Museum, and she blew everyone away with her solo part in “Seasons Of Love.”
In 2000 my friend Arnold Reyes became a Metropop finalist and looked to me for some help recording his entry “Paano Na.” My “suki” arranger Arnold Buena worked on the instrumental arrangement, and I helped out with the vocals by giving Bituin some directions so that the song would start out mellow, build up and fly at the end. A bit of "contest formula" that had worked for me in the past. "Paano Na" won 2nd Prize that year.
I didn’t get to see much of Bituin after that, but we’ve been in touch the past few years thanks to wonders of social media.
Last Easter was the 10th year anniversary of Mass Appeal, a choir I’m a member of that sings every fourth Sunday of the month at the La Salle Greenhills Chapel. To give this special anniversary mass a bit of “sindak” power, I invited Bituin to do the solo of “Joyful Joyful” (that famous Sister Act version) for our recessional song. The whole choir was over the moon with excitement when she agreed to do it. With her family and 2 babies in tow, she arrived middle of the mass and was apologetic about not being able to come earlier, but the absence of an opportunity for us to rehearse with her didn’t faze us one bit. We knew she would be awesome and she was, and the whole number was truly a joyful one for us all. You can watch that performance right here.
A few days after that, Bituin invited us to her upcoming gig at Balete@Kamias where she would perform Cole Porter and Gershwin songs. I watched the show with my parents who came all the way to Manila from Silang, Cavite (this cool couple found out about the gig through posts on Facebook – yes they’re both on FB – and gave me a call when they read about the show to ask me to get tickets) and a bunch of Mass Appeal choristers (including our musical director Inday Echevarria, choir founder and Route 70 vocalist Ding-Dong Eduque, Tux members Popo Suanes and Manny Aquino and a few others).
I found myself hanging on to every note and word Bituin sang. I was so caught up in her music that I forgot to order a drink! Ding-Dong and I talked about her on the ride home after the show. "Ang sexy ni Bituin kumanta no?" I remarked. Ding-Dong went, "Hindi na nga sexy eh...bastos na!" We meant it in the best way possible. I found the right expression later on and told Bituin through a thread on Facebook what we thought of her singing: "Ang libog mo kumanta!" It was the best compliment I could give her and I think she knew it.
What sets Bituin apart from many other artists is this: you have many great singers who aren't good actors, and many great actors who aren't good singers. Bituin is both an excellent singer and a trained theater actor. She combines her skill in stylizing and belting out notes with the ability to express what a song is really all about because you know that she understands her material. She's an intelligent and expressive storyteller with an awesome set of pipes. That's what makes her different. And THAT is what real singing is all about. Right now, I can't think of any other local performer who can do it the way she does. Certainly not at the level Bituin does it.
She performs again at 7th High's Apex Lounge on April 30. You can find details of that show HERE. Do yourself a favor: watch Bituin perform and treat yourself to some REAL singing.
My name is Trina Belamide and I'm a songwriter and record producer.
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