The Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) Fair is an annual summer event in Vancouver. Every year thousands of people attend the fair which runs for about half a month. It features amusement park rides, concerts, indoor entertainments such as dog shows, acrobats, and a lot more.
I was so happy when I learned that Lea Salonga was going to be one of the performers in the PNE daily concerts. I am a big fan of hers and whenever I would hear she’d performing in Vancouver, I would always say I’d go see her but something would come up at the last minute that I wasn’t able to go. This time I will make sure I am going to be there. I even told my relatives and friends about it and we all agreed to watch the show.
My friends had lunch in my house before heading to the PNE. Since I had to do some errands , my friends went ahead and just reserved a space for me. I figured I had enough time since it would only start at 8:00 p.m. When I got there at about 6:30 p.m., I was so surprised to find the venue so full. Security had cordoned off the area near the stage. I had to forcibly squeeze myself through the crowds to get to our spot. My husband and eldest son almost did not make it through. Luckily, they were able to convince the security guy to let them in. There were about 20 of us in our group including some people from our parish who managed to get through and sit with us. We had mats laid out about five meters from the stage. The crowd of about 8,000 was made up of mostly Filipinos.
The show started at exactly 8:00 p.m. When Lea came out of the stage, she was so surprised to see the large crowd. She felt overwhelmed at the sight of her kababayans who took time to see her perform. As expected, Lea did not disappoint her audience because her voice was magnificent as ever. My son even commented you could record her voice during the concert and not know the difference between a live show and a recording because of the good quality of her voice.
During the show, Lea asked who among the people in the audience were single. My son Arnie was one of those who raised his hand. She noticed him and said he is not qualified since he is too young and looks 15. The camera focused on Arnie and he stood up, took off his glasses and did a macho stance and declared he was 21. He had the crowd laughing and cheering because of what he did.
When Lea sang “Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal”, almost everyone was singing with her. Of course, we were singing too and reminiscing those days when we went crazy over her team up with Aga Muhlach. She was so thrilled and declared she would definitely tweet about it. I also enjoyed her version of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”.
Halfway into the concert, she said she wanted to sing one of the songs from the Disney movie, Alladin but would need someone to sing the duet with her. A lot of people were raising their hands but Arnie stood out from among them because he was standing and raising his hands and all 20 of us were shouting “Him!”, “Him!” so we got Lea’s attention. She asked him to join her onstage saying since she had been teasing him all night so he might as well join her. We were all ecstatic when he came up and my husband who was holding Arnie’s camera did not even have the chance to ask him how to operate the video on it. I decided to use my phone for the video and my husband just took the pictures.
When he got up on stage, Lea commented he did look 15 and asked him if he wanted anything…lyrics for the song “A Whole New World” or some water. He said he needed lyrics and when she gave him a copy, he also took Lea’s glass of water and drank from it. The crowd roared with laughter when he did this. He was a bit nervous when he started singing so his voice came out a bit shaky at first. Lea was surprised he could sing well. Each time, the crowd cheered when it was his turn to sing. I was so excited and nervous and even started crying because I was so happy for him. He was able to regain his composure in the middle of the song and he really did well. He got a big hug from Lea and she complimented him by saying she had been doing that (getting someone from the audience to do a duet with her) without knowing what to expect but she said Arnie did good.
We were all cheering and congratulating him when he came back! His hands were icy cold when I touched them. He was totally in Cloud 9! He said he could not believe his luck! It was a dream come true for him having been an avid Lea fan since seeing her in Miss Saigon at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Of course I had to share the excitement so I quickly texted my Mom and brother in Manila about it.
The following day, we saw some videos had been uploaded on YouTube and comments praising him about his good performance. Some even said it was staged especially after seeing videos of him when he joined Pinoy Pop Superstar in 2006. I am sure Arnie will never forget that experience. The three minutes of fame he shared with Lea is something he will definitely treasure for the rest of his life. To Ms. Lea Salonga, thank you for the opportunity! We all enjoyed your concert and hopefully see you again when you come back to Vancouver.