Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The craze over Arnel Pineda's Journey

There is a craze in the Filipino internet community over the recent selection of the multi-talented Arnel Pineda of The Zoo as the new lead singer of the American rock band Journey.
You can just Google Arnel Pineda and one can see a deluge of heartwarming expression of pride over the Filipino "Cinderella-Man" whose life of rags-to-riches brings us to that scene in the award winning Forrest Gump where actor describes life as a "box of chocolates".
Arnel Pineda grew up experiencing the harshness of life in the Phlippines, mother-less at ten, with no house to go home to, with very little to eat,no bed to sleep on.
Yet, he discovered his God-given talent in music, packed his bags, became a recognized versatile singer in local bars.
And he never looked back.
Now, he brings pride to the motherland having been chosen as the "New Voice" of a once-all American, yet world renowned rock band Journey.
Journey is noted for rock ballads like "Open Arms" and "Faithfully", and upbeat tunes like "Don't Stop Believin'" , "Wheels in the Sky".
It was Steve Perry who carried the band in the 1980's because it was his voice that struck a chord in the hearts and ears of millions of Journey fans around the globe.
Steve Perry and the band separated.
Steve Perry went his way alone, and is remembered for the hit "Foolish Heart" in the mid-1980's.
But for the band itself, not a few people felt Journey really wasn't able to sustain their popularity over the years, without Perry.
There were lead vocalists that followed after Perry, but none seemed to come close to Perry's unique talent and charisma.
Last year, Journey through its guitarist Neil Schon planned a comeback but the problem was they were a band without a voice (or "that Voice").
Schon turned to You Tube and eventually found uploaded clips of the Filipino Zoo Band with Arnel Pineda at the helm.
It was not surprising that Schon was awe strucked at the Filipino talent.
The You Tube clips tell the tale.
Thus, the story of Arnel Pineda is not so much about his talent.
He has IT. No question.
Not only does Arnel have quality. It's his versatility that amazes me no end.
Personally, my favorite Arnel covers are "Faithfully", "Please Don't Ask Me", "Ever Since The World Began", "The Flame".
In my opinion, he sings the songs at par, if not better than the original.
He has a voice so similar to Steve Perry---only better.
And I am not exaggerating.
But it was the manner by which he was discovered that makes Arnel's story interesting.
I will not be surprised if there would be a deluge of video uploads of other bands, hoping they would score like Arnel Pineda did.
In this sense, Arnel Pineda is an inspiration.

Racists spoil the show
Unortunately, along with the overflow of warm congratulatory messages over Arnel's new fame, there is also a parallel barrage of ugly racist remarks hurled against Arnel Pineda, and Filipinos in general, in the internet.
I suspect it comes from American die-hard Journey fans who can't get over the fact that Steve Perry, would no longer be coming back to Journey.
Of course the internet will not provide proof, but one can get a feeling that the "white superior race" is behind the throwing of racist mud not only upon Arnel but the "small brown creatures" from the East.
Never have I seen such racial hatred that really struck home.
But most of all, I suspect these racial slurs are spawned by the fact that somebody can belt a Journey song as good as, if not better than Steve Perry.
And the guy's not "white".
Let me relay some of the terrible racist remarks you can read in the internet about the phenomenal rise to stardom of a Filipino named Arnel Pineda.
One (Adolf Hitler-inspired) comment stated that Journey should retain itself as an "all-American band".
This comment suggests that Journey will not be Journey if a non-American is part of the band.
Worse, the non-American is a brown-skinned creature.
Another merciless commentary complained to Journey band guitarist Neil Schon that he shouldn't have chosen a Filipino because "we cannot relate to small brown Asians".
Comments can get a lot worse.
One comment wrote: "He sings well but we can't dissociate him from that pizza delivery boy".
Another takes a nasty jab at the wrong perception of Filipinos being dog-eaters.
The comment stated: "If Journey performs in our place, I will hide all my dogs."
The racially-tainted comments are enough to make one fume.
But a very stark observation I made is that all the negative, hurtful, uncivilized comments against Arnel Pineda relate to things other than his talent.
I haven't read any negative comment about his superb, naked talent.
So the critics were personal, ad-hominem types.
It is a sad episode because I realize how alive racial discrimination is in America, even to this day.
And this is the supposed to be a land that proclaims the edict that "all men are created equal."
If this is not hypocrisy, I don't know what it is.
If you want to validate my statement, just Google Arnel Pineda and you'll see what I mean.
Journey band members have come to Arnel's rescue explaining to some of their fans that Journey has become global and has transcended issues on skin color.
Journey itself has not been spared from unjustified criticisms, accusing the band of engaging in "out-sourcing" cheap labor in Asia.
Arnel Pineda, in response to these racial slurs, just brushes them aside and hopes that the racists will "grow up".
But not all American Journey fans are rude.
I want to believe a greater majority of Journey fans in the U.S. welcome Arnel Pineda with Open Arms too:

Unifying figure
The significance of Arnel Pineda's unique experience is the unifying effect it evoked upon all Filipinos around the globe.
Filipinos from all corners of the world are requesting that Journey perform in their place.
Pineda's meteoric rise to music stardom has rallied Filipinos both home and abroad, in the same way Filipnos band together when Manny Pacquiao enters the ring.
Arnel Pineda assures that wherever he goes, he will always bring the Filipino pride with him.
Words spoken by true-blooded Filipino.
Thank you for that, Arnel.


anintelligentmind said...

Sadly there is always some negativity thrown when something positive happen. But I've found that most people who dwell in the negative aren't even worth the time it takes to respond

4everursarnel said...

hi, i have a feeling ur from dumaguete. i am a true dumaguetena who now resides in canada. anyway, i enjoyed reading your blog. i have been one of those who stalked anything about arnel on cyberspace since he became journye's lead vocals. his video clips never fail to charm me and i dont call it a day wihtout a dose of it. some people just cannot take the fact that steve perry is no longer coming back and that with arnel, the hardcore journey fans in my opinion are threatened that journey finally had the 'right deal' after several attempts to find a replacement close to perry. i dont expect him to be steve perry because arnel will be arnel. and i love him for the kind of voice he possess--raspy and deep and that his ability to sing a cover from the beatles to led zep, from john farham to heart shows his versatility as a singer.

4everursarnel said...

hi, there again..just realized you had my reaction posted as a blog which is cool, actually! :) thanks!

anyway, here i am again, surfing the net (considering its already close to 2am my time and a few hours to recharge for another day of hardwork).

a few minutes ago, i was left in total disgust when i read some "below the belt" racial comments about arnel and the filipinos in general. here is the site i am going to share which had those comments posted. you may probably find it way too offensive so my apologies in advance.

my point in sharing this is for us to be aware that even in the age of information, narrow minds still do exist that it's scary..
[note: such ignorant remarks are mostly found on the bottom part of the page]

thanks for your time, sir. all the best!

dscrimp said...

I have to admit that I was taken aback myself when I learned that Journey had hired a Filipino singer ... but after watching this guy on YouTube, I am hooked! My reaction was not one of racism, mainly just surprise. I find his singing to be infectious ... everybody I show him to becaomes a fan.

Anah said...


I consider myself a huge fan of Journey even before Arnel came into the picture This guy has a great talent and people should stop comparing him to SP.

Racial slurs is well alive everywhere. I'm a blogger myself and has received racial remarks in my blog about being married to an American guy. Yes it does hurt but those racists low life idiots can say what they want to say. There is a saying "Do not feed the troll.".

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Salamat po,


Jonny said...

Here's one foreigner who's glad to see Arnel in Journey!

I had the pleasure of seeing Arnel sing with Zoo in March 2007 - he was great!

I'm really proud for my Filipino friends here in Manila and in my home country.

Arnel has done the hard work, and he deserves this. Not only so, but the results I've heard with Journey so far are inspiring :)

Anonymous said...

CONGRATULATIONS Arnel. As Filipino Mom of two of the most Wonderful children(bi-racial), my heart goes out to you for not having your Mom with you at your happiest moment in your life. Don't despair, you're blessed with that special lady in your life and the son that binds you together. I hope someday, you make it right by her with your "lady" in your life.
Take care of yourself and your Mom is watching over you,she is your Angel. Very very proud of you!

Anonymous said...

We, Filipinos shouldn't get ourselves caught in this low life illeterate white people. I can not believe there are still a lot of white ignorant people out there. But then again, I have realized these people's knowledge about Philippines is limited. I have spent half of my life here and have been working with decent, educated Americans and I have never felt so welcomed since I left home, and that's some 30 years ago. I know it's hard not to get personal with these racist negative comments, but I wouldn't lose sleep over it, just not worth it. They're getting so negative because Arnel is way MUCH better than whoever the band previously hired, and all these racists know it as evidenced by their viewing Arnel on YT in spite of their negative comments, and yes, that's hypocrisy big time! Arnel, keep rockin', my brother!!!

Anonymous said...

Let me start off by saying I am a American of Italian decent who is a huge Journey fan. I could hardly stomach the singers that followed Steve Perry and could barely find enough energy to see them when they came to my town in Concert and never bought any of there music since Steve Perry. Arnel is a breath of fresh air for a great group of musicians and the fit is like a well tailored suit. I will tell you that you should not group the entire country of white people just because of some idiots that are posting on the internet. All of our different races of people have racist among us who will just never let the race thing die. Nothing we can do about it but ignore them and just let them know how ignorant we think they are. Arnel is a genuine guy who deserves to be where he is at because he worked hard to get there and his race just doesn't matter to me or anyone who who has enough smarts to read what he has been through. I think if you really look around you will believe that the greater majority of Journey fans in the U.S. are welcoming Arnel Pineda with Open Arms.

Carlo C.

Anonymous said...

Haters are haters. Its all the same everywhere. Being Filipino myself, I have seen this hate in the Philippines too againts women, homosexuals, handicap ppl, to other races and so on. Lets ignore the hate and start lovin! Remember what the bible always says. Love thy your enemy. If someone trows rock at you, you must trow bread back at them.
AP is not just a gift to all the Filipinos, but a gift to mankind! His life is an inspiration to all the people who had suffer. Don't give up and Don't Stop Believing!PEACE!

Mark said...

Saw the show in CT last night with Heart and Cheap Trick. I rarely go to shows like this anymore because I'm discouraged at older bands that just haven't "got it" anymore. I would not have gone to this show on my own initiative, but somebody invited me to go with a group.

I'm glad I did. All three bands were fantastic.

Regarding Arnel, WOW. He's great. If Journey wants to keep the sound that they've had, then they've found their man.

Racists are sad, stupid, worthless people. Just ignore them.

mazey said...

Wow what short sighted people still in this world. It's a shame, what a real talent in this Arnell Pineda, regardless of his race. He does a fanstic job with the old Journey songs. He has re-newed my intrest in this band, but I suggest everyone do themselves a great favor and enjoy the new songs Journey has put on their newest CD, WOW. Please stop compairing him to SP, Steve made his choice and now the band has, thank GOD they found AP. Check out youtube he has so much energy, what a treat to watch. And he is very cute.

Anonymous said...

I've always love journey's songs even more so now that a Brother is the LEAD SINGER. I am so proud of you Arnel I would cry everytime I hear the songs. Let the racist remarks be your drive to do even better.I myself been there but thank God I'm still here. God put you with The JOURNEY and make the very, very best of it.With all of Life struggles you have been through you're blessed with a beautiful voice, let it be heard far and wide. May God bless you more and more everyday as you travel all over the world as an ambassador of goodwill through music. GOOD LUCK to you my brother and take care.

Anonymous said...

I love this site..the only one so far that has positive comments. Good Job!

I have watched Arnel performed 22 years ago in Manila(i was 18 back then) during his YJOS/Shakeys days before I came to America. Back then he was already talented. We were young and awfully crazy at him! But seeing him performed live again...twenty some years later... is crazy wild! We saw him at the Seattle Concert on Sept 19. Arnel has amazing demeanor and talent! Very humble, grounded and such a deep soul! I hope that JOURNEY crew will look after him and not abuse his awesome voice. I also wish that Arnel will take care of his lady and his kids and love them the way his Mom cared and loved him. Arnel is a classy guy, classy guy attracts classy folks like us who are positive and professional!

Oh, yeah...all his new songs are great! Love the song "After All These Years"!!!

Spread the love and peace!!!

Anonymous said...

I am an African-American who loves Journey's music and wanted desperately to attend their concert when they came to my area. However, I was afraid to do so because they chose to perform in a city known for its racist citizens. I have always loved Journey's music but was never a true fan. That is until now. I wish I could say I am surprised at the negative and racist comments being made about Arnel but sadly, I am not. Arnel is an awesome talent who I hope will be with Journey for many years to come. The story of how he was found on You Tube is inspirational and gives hope to those of us who still have dreams we hope someday, one day will come true. God bless Arnel Pineda. God bless Journey.

thedude said...

as good as steve perry? jokes?

RealityCheck said...

Haters are loosers, they are just envious that a filipino got the job to their surprise. Steve Perry was great in his time. But he gave up the position he thought no one would dare occupy. Each journey front man may sing the same songs but they have their own style. One more fact that amaze me is that this men of Journey however old they are still want to entertain and work their music. Where then this Steve Perry? He seems happy in retirement. So should the Steve Perry fans. He doesn't want to sing anyways.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Although Arnel, no doubt, has amazing talent, I believe Steve Perry is better.

However, it is not because I am racist.

Note: Steve Perry is not "white", he is of Portuguese descent (born in America).

Anonymous said...

His parents came from the Amores Islands.

Immortal Undead said...

The sad part about this is that even here in the Philippines, people here are criticizing Arnel because he was merely discovered in Youtube and not because of his talent and i was... WTF???

Matt said...

I am a Journet fan of the 80s. I just saw them live a couple days ago. Arnel is great, he has an awesome voice that does the original songs justice and I like the new material. He also has great stage presence and energy, he is a great fit and I would see them again with Arnel at the front!

Anonymous said...

Yes there is racism in America but hold yer horses, it's very much the same in the Philippine whereas people with dark color are judge by their color. Just look at our talent search; how come those who win aren't really those talented but rather who have white skin? People who come from the ethnic minority are nothing but stereotyped and discriminated just because of their heritage.

Also, self-proclaimed nationalistic Filipino artist called him and Charice, 'monkeys'

Simon said...

Hi, I am a long time Journey fan from their start to now, and as much as everyone who is a Journey fan hates to see a band without Steve P., it is plain that Neal and Steve will never sing in the same band again. I wish Arnel all the best for his Journey with Journey, and hope that others will just enjoy the music. Arnel came from a very poor background, and I am just glad that he has found a place for himself which he has obviously earned.

Forget the racism, it does no good to any of us, music is supposed to bring us all together, so live and love.

chasewellness said...

Arnel sings well. He is sweet. He has a great story the Journey boys are capitalizing on (Americans are capitalists afterall). Absurd to say he is "better" than Steve Perry. Someone hasn't been listening closely. Anyone who knows much about music, and the emotion it can evoke (hopping around all the place is not the kind of emotion I am referring to), would not state such a foolish statement. Perry has ALL the elements that make a great singer truly phenomenal. It goes way beyond just hitting high notes. Arnel is good, but lacks some of the essential elements of music that makes a singer one of the greats. I am happy for Arnel though. He is doing well and I am thrilled he had the opportunity. The Filipino people are sweet people generally (except the low-class obnoxious ones on the message boards of Steve Perry's YouTube videos. I have seen a lot of trash there. Shocking and filthy at times.) The racism, offensiveness and crumminess goes in both directions.

Anonymous said...

I already know JOURNEY band when Arnel step in. I love this band now for giving inspiring melody.