DINGDONG AVANZADO is said to be one of the biggest comeback stories of this year!
It was a fearless re-introduction to mainstream pop music with an all original (OPM) album – DOWNLOAD, and one of the most successful local concert of the year – 3.25 at the Music Museum.
Together with his wife and diva, Jessa Zaragoza they joined us last Friday (November 23) during a casual lunch date at Dayrit’s Burgers and Roastbeef House in Tomas Morato. It was really a pleasant surprise because all of us were expecting to see only Jessa Zaragoza that day.
After our delicious lunch, we then took the opportunity to interview Dingdong, one of the icons of Philippine Pop Music who released some of the most memorable OPM hits like Tatlong Biente Singko, Paalam Na, Basta’t Kasama Kita, Maghihintay Sa ‘Yo, I Will Be There For You, and many more songs that gained nationwide recognition. Earning him the title as the original PRINCE OF POP.
A NEW ALBUM FOR THE ORIGINAL PRINCE OF POP
His new project under Viva Records, DOWNLOAD is his first solo album in almost a decade. The record is especially noteworthy because all 15 tracks are all original songs written by Dingdong himself, including the title track, which he co-wrote with Ogie Alcasid and Noel Cabangon, and the follow up single Limutin Ka, which features his collaboration with current rap sensation Gloc 9.
“It feels so great to be back on the charts, especially with original music. I am so overwhelmed. I didn’t expect things to turn out as well as they have. I just feel so blessed.” Dingdong said.
The album also gave DingDong a best male pop artist nomination at the recent Star Awards for Music.
Dingdong Avanzado is also celebrating his 25 years in the entertainment industry. He recently staged 3.25, an anniversary concert last November 9 at the Music Museum. The title refers to his breakthrough hit Tatlong Bente Singko released 25 years ago taken from his self-titled debut album under Dyna Records. This song became a pop anthem defining OPM pop music during that period.
The concert was graced by special guests, each of whom had an important role in his career including Rachel Alejandro (for whom he wrote the classic Paalam Na and wife Jessa Zaragoza and daughter Jayda. Dingdong did a duet album with Jessa in 2009 under Universal Records.
The concert also earned him a nomination for Best Concert Performance by a Male Artist in this year’s ALIW Awards.
It was a very special concert for Dingdong Avanzado. His first concert 25 years ago called SHINE ON was held at the famous Rizal Theatre (which is now the location of Shangri-la Hotel Makati). It has the same size as the Music Museum – and that is one of the reasons why they chose the place as the venue of his Anniversary concert.
He also fondly recalled that his front act during his first concert in 1987 was Ogie Alcasid, who is now currently the president of OPM where Dingdong is a board member. His special guest then was Regine Velasquez, asia’s songbird and now Mrs. Alcasid.
COMING BACK HOME
Dingdong and Jessa said that it was indeed a great year for the both of them. But they said that this was not the case when they first came back to the Philippines two and a half years ago.
“It was a real struggle. The entertainment industry is not the same as before. The turn-overs are really very fast. You’re a hit this Month, and you’re completely forgotten the next. Before it was just radio and television but now you have the internet. But despite all of these factors and the many competition, I am glad to say that we still found our place.” Says Dingdong
A real good year is an understatement actually. Dingdong and Jessa has projects left and right. It was the busiest year they’ve had. Dingdong was in 4 shows during the first half of the year with Rachel Alejandro, Jessa Zaragoza and Jon Santos. They recently bought a new house. And then Dingdong graduated also this year with a degree in Political Science.
“I am really thankful that I am still able to do what I love doing after all these years,” he says. “I thank all my fans for still being there to support me, and the new ones for accepting my music. I also thank Viva for believing in me. Of course, I thank my friends and family for providing the love and inspiration that keeps me going.”
After 25 years, he looks back and feels a deep sense of gratitude and fulfilment. He says, “It was never about just making it Big! It was about MAKING IT LAST.”
We asked Dingdong Avanzado about his thoughts on OPM.
“OPM is not dead, the Pinoy Rock Music Scene is flourishing right now. However, our pop music is very much confined to singing covers. The problem is not the lack of talents, songwriters or great singers. The problem is the lack of support from the public. If you look at your iPods you’ll see that around 80 – 90% of the music stored there are foreign. We need to reverse that. We need to educate people and inspire songwriters to write more songs. Bring our music out there again –be happy and be positive – keep on writing. One thing I’ve learned from joining OPM is that instead of focusing on the problem, make yourself a part of the solution. “
Dingdong also shared that Philpop and Filscap are working hand-in-hand in uplifting the status of OPM.
“We need to plug the market with our own music. You know why KPOP is big right now? Because, KPOP is a government led initiative. South Korea has an all out support to KPOP and they’re using it as a marketing tool to show the world Korean culture. And it’s working. That’s what we should do as well. Sa atin kasi colonial mentality pa rin ang umiiral. Yung culture natin nawawala na kasi walang suporta, kaya we’re being forced to embrace other cultures. Kapag concert ni JLO kahit 26 thousand worth ang ticket bibili tayo pero pag local artist concert kahit halos libre na wala pa din bibili.”
Another clear case of lack of support is with OPM’s latest rift with the Bureau of Immigration because of the refusal of foreign musical plays to pay equity fees for displaced local artists, Dingdong said.
“They’re (Bureau of Immigration) lawyering for foreign groups instead of supporting displaced local artists. The equity fee is in the MOA drafted by the Bureau of Immigration and for some reason they’re disregarding it, siding with the production companies and accusing OPM as extorting money from them. It was really an unfair statement. We have agreed however to revisit and revised the MOA because some of the provisions might be outdated already but we still demand that the two productions (Mamma Mia and Phantom of the Opera) to pay the equity fees. Kasi ang lalabas nun parang pinalusot namin yun dalawa at na libre sila. Yung mga nauna naman na productions nag abide sa MOA e, ang pinag-tataka namin ay bakit itong dalawa hindi.”
We also asked Dingdong about his take on the so called non-singer ‘performers’ who are now getting more offers from record labels than legitimate singers.
“An album nowadays is also a great marketing tool – not just for singers – anyone can have an album this days. Lahat naman tayo ay may kanya-kanyang panahon. They’re selling right now probably because it’s their time. Let’s not focus on that. We have to measure the totality of the person’s music career. How many albums? How many live shows? How many concerts? For me, coming out with an album is not a great indicator for a successful musical career anymore – the real gauge is longevity.”
DINGDONG TO SERVE THE ISLAND OF SYQUIJOR
Dingdong Avanzado is going to run as Vice-Governor of Syquijor under the administration’s Liberal Party ticket with the goal of changing the image of the province of SIQUIJOR.
Dingdong proudly explained that the province of Siquijor contrary to popular belief is not a scary place. It is actually a mystical island full of humble and kind people. However, the island is in a sorry state right now.
“My grand father is the first medical doctor in Siquijor and our house is located right beside the old church. Our province was down-graded from being a 4th class province to 5th. We have the most expensive electricity. Syquijor has the lowest crime rate which makes it a very ideal place to live in but we also have one of the worse hospital. People call it as a Mona Lisa Hospital, from the song Mona Lisa which has the line ‘You just lie there and die there.’ which pretty much describes it. For emergency cases, you’ll need to ferry or fly patients to dumaguete to be treated – that is if you have the money to pay for the trip and the luxury of time.” Dingdong explained
The singer’s reason for running is simple.
“We love Siquijor. Jessa and I want to retire in Siquijor someday. I also wanted to do something that is worth my while and for something that I really love. Gusto ko makita na yung fruits ng labor ko may patutunguhan. I was City councilor of 3rd District of Quezon City and in the span of three years I was able to market Quezon City as the City of Stars. I handled Quezon City’s Tourism Council as Chairman, tourism and marketing has always been my forte. Ok na naman ang Quezon City pero ang province ko hindi pa. Kung papalarin na manalo ang team namin, we will establish an economic team to turn things around. We will set the right foundation. Based on my public service background the team sees me as a spokes person – an ‘ambassador’ for Siquijor. Ako ang magiging mukha ng mga trade missions na gagawin for Siquijor. But of course we don’t want it to look like Boracay – maganda, madaming tourists pero hindi sustainable. We are envisioning Siquijor as a center for wellness and a perfect retirement destination. We want to attract the right tourist, preserve the natural beauty of the island and develop livelihood projects for our people. “
I can see the excitement and enthusiasm in Dingdong’s eyes as he sat there explaining what he’ll do if ever he wins office. But it’ll be a real challenge for the singer-performer because the incumbent officials has been in the Siquijor leadership position for 26 years already. It’s going to be one hell of a brick wall to slam for the Liberal Party’s ‘new bloods.’
But this challenging situation wouldn’t be the first for Dingdong Avanzado. We might also be wrong in saying that Dingdong’s is the best comeback story this year – if fate would allow it, maybe next year would be Dingdong’s greatest comeback story really.
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