A Gift from Him (Life Story) by ChariceIf you want to know Charice, this is a must-read.
With a little editing by Frank A Hilario which he posted in his blog Pinoy Cinderella. The original was written and posted by Charice herself in her Tumblr blog in 2010 (http://charicepempengco.tumblr.com/post/356742539/a-gift-from-him-life-story).
My mom started to teach me how to sing properly. She knows everything because she was a vocalist in a band. It was pretty hard to be a student of my own mom. I wasn’t sure what to do. However, at some point, I felt I had to do my best. I felt that she was really counting on me, like she was thinking that I will be the next Her. She trained me for like 2 to 3 years. She’d been so strict but it had been really worth it.
When I was 7, my mom asked me if I wanted to join some amateur singing contests here in the Philippines. I was scared but I answered Yes. She picked a song for me. I was so nervous; that was my first ever singing competition. My legs were shaking. And now, the emcee called my name. I walked up from backstage, and I saw the people were looking at me. I just closed my eyes and remembered what my mom told me, “Don’t ever look to their eyes. Just feel your song, and focus! But still, you have to act like you’re talking to them. Singing is like Acting too.” The song [minus one] started to play. I was so shocked with the reaction of the audience! They loved my performance! I was so happy that time, seeing my mom teary-eyed, like she was very, very proud. After the performance, the part I hated most: Announcing the winner! I was staring at my mom and praying at the same time. The emcee called the 3rd placer, it was not me. And now, the 2nd placer; it was me! Well not bad for a first timer! Mom was so happy. Got a lot of prizes and went back home really happy.
After that first experience, I competed in 80+ singing contests in the Philippines. To help my family. We were poor. Then one day when we were watching TV, we saw a commercial for a sort of “American Idol” singing competition in the Philippines. My mom and I decided that I join the contest. We just thought, that’s my chance to be known in the Philippines because I’ve been dreaming of being famous here in the Philippines, like forever. We went to the venue and did an audition. The judges looked so serious. I got nervous when it was my turn. I sang a Whitney Houston song. And luckily they loved it! They told me that they were going to call me up to schedule me for the final screening.
After weeks, they called me. They told us that I was going to be on the next episode of the contest. [It was Little Big Star, Grand Prize 1 million pesos.] My mom was so nervous that time. She couldn’t even say a word.
We just prepared everything that we needed for the competition, and my mom came to my room and gave me a hug. A Good Luck Hug.
The next morning, we were all ready to go to the studio for the first round of the competition. I saw the other contestants. They were looking at me like they were going to bite me or something! The director called me and told me to go to the make-up room and get done. So I did. I felt it, it was coming. A few hours later and it was finally my turn. The director saw me and we went backstage.
The host called my name finally. Number 1, Charice Pempengco. I walked on stage and started to sing. Afterwards, I was a little bit sad because I felt that I didn’t impress the judges. They gave me a score of 90. I was so shocked; that was a big score! Then the director shouted, “Cut!” I went to my mom and hugged her. And now it was number 2’s turn. He sang a big Josh Groban song. He was really awesome, but it was the saddest day of my life right after the judges revealed his score. It was 91. I lost by just a point. I was so depressed. I just thought that I couldn't help my family anymore. We went back home so sad. I lost hope and everything. Every night I was telling God that maybe He was sleeping that He couldn’t hear me. My mom was playing my favorite song almost every day just to cheer me up. But I couldn’t talk or smile.
As the months went by, I didn’t realize that God was waiting for the right time. I just thought about it now. Some stranger posted my video on YouTube, and the Producers from Sweden saw it and they invited me to go there and sing some demos. Though it was really a big opportunity, I didn’t even think about me being recognized after that. I went to Sweden and recorded some songs. Stayed for like a week and came back home. After that, as I expected, nothing happened to me. I waited for how many months. And I lost hope again.
2007, I met the guy who posted my video, Dave Dueñas is the name. (We’re friends now.) One time, a big show in Korea emailed my friend Dave and told him they wanted me to be on their show. We were so happy but we never thought about any lucky chance afterwards. I went there with my mom. And the Koreans went Gaga over my performance and I got recognized in Korea. But still, I couldn’t believe that they really believed in me. Not until Ellen DeGeneres saw my video and invited me to her show. That was such an amazing experience. My mom and I were so happy when we first went to Los Angeles. We couldn’t believe it! I got a standing ovation on Ellen’s show and she gave me an iPod. One night I talked to God, and thanked Him. Realized that He was not sleeping. LOL.
The next morning, someone called my mom. Since we weren’t good in speaking English at that time, my mom didn’t understand what they were saying, I grabbed the phone and talked to them. They asked me if I was Charice. “Yes!” I said with an excited expression. Now I was floored when they told me that Oprah Winfrey wanted me to be on her show. Oprah was my favorite talk show host! We flew in to Chicago and performed there. I got a standing ovation and Oprah cried.
I woke up early with a smile on my face. We were going back to the Philippines in a few hours! We went straight to the airport, checked in and went to the gate. Finally we were on board. But we got nervous when two policemen got in the plane and asked for Raquel Pempengco, my mom. We didn’t know what to do. We just raised our hands. They told us to get out of the plane, and so we did. They asked my mom if my mom was working for Harpo. She said No. They asked me if I’m special or famous or whatever. I said No. They asked me a one-liner question: “Then why Oprah wants to see you?” I got chills! My mom was crying and asked me, “Did you break the doll of Oprah?” I said definitely No! The Policemen guided us going to the car waiting outside the airport going back to the Harpo studio. We were nervous thinking about what’s gonna happen. Then we made it to Harpo. The staff told us to proceed to the conference room. We went there and had some snacks. Then someone opened the door and said "Hi" to me. It was Oprah. She sat in front me and talked to me. I told her the story of my life. And I told her that I was losing hope. But she told me to stop and let her talk. She told me the most amazing words ever. “Don’t lose hope, I promise you, something big will happen.” Mom and I cried. We felt it. That was it. The chance we’ve been waiting for so long. Oprah gave us something [some money] we could use on our way back to the Philippines.
My mom was still in shock when we got back to the Philippines. Meanwhile me, I was looking for my “Dream Journal Drawing Book.” I love to draw. This was my drawing book with celebrities inside singing with me. I was telling myself that I could send it to Oprah. And I did. My mom did.
A few days later, Oprah’s crew called me and they told me to go to New York for some interviews and stuff. We went there and met the other people of Oprah. I was sitting while they were trying to set up the camera. Few minutes passed. Someone was calling. I couldn't answer it but they told me to pick up the phone. So I did. A big voice talked, looking for… me. It was Andrea Bocelli and he invited me to be part of his Birthday Party. I cried. And I remembered that my 1st page on my dream journal was to have a duet with Andrea Bocelli. I thought that Oprah was making my dreams come true. After Andrea Bocelli, Oprah invited me again to her show. I sang the first song that I’ve ever learned. And it’s a Celine Dion song, My Heart Will Go On. After the song, Oprah talked and told the audience that a working mother with a seven-year old son was watching via satellite. I looked back to see Celine Dion. She invited me to her concert at Madison Square Garden. And she wanted to dedicate the song to my mom. Celine and I sang together in front of 20,000 people watching. I didn’t know what to think that time. I just gave my best. And the 20,000 people gave a standing ovation for us.
Some people who watched the concert uploaded the video Duo on YouTube and it reached 4 million views. I was the happiest! After all these, I met my other favorite singers, Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and it was all in my Dream Journal Drawing Book. Thanks to Oprah.
After those big Gigs, we came back to the Philippines, never thinking that now every person in Manila knew me. I was like, “This is my dream, finally.” Today, I’ve got a lot of guestings on TV and everything. But still, my Family and I always have time to bond.
Last night, before I went to sleep, I talked to someone. Felt sorry in the first place that I was blaming Him. But very Thankful that He did those things to me. You know, after losing hope. He gave a gift to me to use it not only for me, my family, but for all the People. Use it to inspire everyone. Now everyone’s asking me, “Where did that voice come from?” Well I guess there is only one answer:
It’s a Gift from Him.