Written by Danny Dingle, sent by Rod Dinle with introductory comment by Gin Quesada
(Note from Gin Quesada).The craving to see and patronize the legendary Superstar, Nora Aunor, is still very much alive. Her magic still attracts much of her fans inspite of her predicament. This was the observation of one of our kabaleyans in Australia, Rod Dingle, who has been priveleged to be Director and Master of Ceremonies of all her shows in the cities of Melbourne (Victoria), Brisbane (Queensland) and of course Sydney (New South Wales) where thousands literally came and watched.
Says Rod, “It is worth noting also that our producers – Mr. and Mrs. Nita Christian and Ms. Merlyn Demetriou – and even I, had to put up with so many intrigues and nasty comments about Nora Aunor and her ability (or in-ability) to perform. Sabi pa ng iba baka daw hindi niya kami sisiputin dito sa Australia. Well, she’s proved them wrong.
“Judging from the overwhelming response by her many fans in Australia, it goes to show that she is still well-loved, respected and admired by so many – young and old alike.”
Rod asked me to publish here in the Pozorrubio Online website for sharing, an article written by Danny Dingle, his brother, who was assigned personal ‘alalay’ of the Superstar during her appearance in Sydney – which was staged at the very heart of Filipino Community in Sydney – the Blacktown Workers Club. The article is a testament to The Legend’s ongoing phenomenon – after all these years!
The article below was originally published in a blog.
“The Nora Aunor Mystique: A Story for a New Generation”
by Danny Dingle
(The Sydney, Australia show of Nora Aunor last August 2010, and how a Filipino-Australian teenager reacted to the experience)
She came, she saw, she conquered!
It was billed as a three-city concert headlined by superstar Nora Aunor. Thousands of fans filled the concert venues in Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney who came to hear her golden voice. In the end, they all went home without hearing a note of her famous voice.
Instead, the audience heard a very public personal apology for Nora’s inability to fulfil her contract to perform. It became a meet-and-greet the fans show. To an outside observer, that might have been enough to cause a riot, to turn the expectant fans into an unruly mob, boos and all, for feeling shortchanged.
But nothing of the sort happened. When she began to speak and revealed the reason for her non-performance, they instead fell to a hush, content by the experience of seeing the superstar in person, privileged to be before her presence as if she were royalty. They respected her revelation and took her story into their hearts. They were relieved that at least, she can still speak. She explained her botched facial rejuvenating procedure in Japan that left her comatose for five days. To save her life, the doctors performed tracheotomy, but unfortunately damaged her vocal cords in the process. It was a bombshell revelation that confirmed what had been reported in the media. Many hearts were shattered that afternoon, many wept, as realisation strongly hit the fans that the superstar could not sing anymore. She tried, in the “Dahil Sa Iyo”duet with Kuya Germs. But the golden voice flat-lined, severely damaged. Nora is hopeful that it could be ‘repaired’ someday, but costs would be astronomical. The fans were full of pang-unawa, pagmamahal, pagkaawa and concern for her well-being.
I was one of the hundreds who came to pay homage to this great and rare talent when she came for her ‘Sydney show’ at Blacktown Workers Club (BWC) on August 29. I was part of the production team. My main responsibility was to coordinate with BWC management to allow safe and discreet entry of Nora and her entourage into her dressing room. Earlier, other supporters and I ‘dressed up’ the room with flowers, beverages, fruits and Filipino delicacies. BWC was packed to capacity, easily the biggest crowd in a long time for a Filipino artist who played the venue. Due to the high number of fans, I initially helped out as an usher, and people asked me the same question again and again: “Is Nora going to sing?” “Will she sing live?” “Will she just lip-synch?” I politely told them I did not know, but assured them that they would have a good time.
My 12-year old niece, Dominique, came with me. Her dad is a Bicolano, so she also considers herself one. She did not know Nora that well except for the occasional stories that I have narrated her. Due to staff shortage, she too was commissioned on the spot to be an usher.
What she witnessed that day—the adulation, the pandemonium, the fanaticism, the clamor for a spot next to the superstar for a photo opportunity, the applause with the mere mention of Nora’s name, her rags-to-riches story that Kuya German Moreno quickly retold, her success in multimedia (movie/TV/recording/ radio/stage/film production)—left my niece amazed. Nique observed quite rightly from what she was witnessing that Nora was adored like a rock star.
Kuya Germs described Nora as ‘hindi lumaki’, a word not meant to be derogatory, but as a term of endearment. Dominique wondered how a diminutive lady can accomplish so much in the singing and acting fields, and command so much love and fanaticism. She had been to concerts of other Filipino artists, but the reaction was different. Not like this.
I began to explain to Nique. I asked her to scan the audience, to check out all the lolas—some of whom came with their canes, some in wheelchairs, and some supported (akay) by their children or apos. These lolas were Nora’s fans back in the Philippines. They treated Nora as their own daughter, so there was so much love there, a love passed on to their own children, who also became Noranians. They queued for hours to watch her movies, filled the studio where she was hosting Superstar, the country’s longest continuously running musical-variety show on primetime TV, went to her location shoots. They came to see her during the film festival parades, watched her movies in droves, and came to blows with rival fans during award-giving nights. These they did even if they were very tired and hungry, come rain or sun. When Nora fell in love, or had love teams, they were involved—kasi nga they considered Nora as their “daughter.” They bought her photos and the magazines with Nora on the cover sold like hotcakes. They hoarded Nora merchandise. Fans held vigils outside her home, especially around the time of her birthday on May 21. Nora was a big marketing exercise. And these fans were not just in their thousands. They numbered in their millions.
As we watched the spectacle unfold before us, I quickly realised that I was unconsciously giving Nique a crash course on popular Filipino culture from one generation ago. I pointed out to her about the intergenerational and cross-cultural parallels. Nora was the grand champion of Tawag ng Tanghalan, the forerunner of talent quests like the Australian Idol or the X-Factor today. We also had movies, television and radio, which are now enjoyed in their digital forms and continue to evolve into more sophisticated media. We had fan magazines, which they also have nowadays. There were screaming fans and over-fanaticism of the masa during Nora’s heyday, a behaviour that had been manifested, albeit in a more sombre degree, in the auditorium this afternoon.
Then it was time to go. As we left the auditorium, the avid fans lingered, lined up at the foyer, eagerly awaiting their chance to get an autograph or photo with the superstar. People were back to being devoted fans again, especially now that Nora was with an extremely sensitive condition that could render her losing her voice forever. At this moment, people were emphatising, sympathising, reaching out to give her their support, wanting to touch her, reassuring her, letting her know that they still love her dearly, hoping for one more glimpse of Nora, maybe a last hug. Nique had not seen such displays of affection before and she was clearly continuing to wonder about this fan behaviour, this outpouring of love. Nora was at her most vulnerable state, and she was the underdog once again, the api and kawawa persona played out for all to see. Up close and very personal. And the fans reacted and responded the way they have always done when Nora was down. (I learned later from my brother Rod, who also directed Nora’s shows in Melbourne and Brisbane, that these scenes were exactly the same in those cities—the outpouring of pathos for Nora was universal.)
Within minutes of us reaching home, a post appeared in Nique’s Facebook account: the words ‘Nora Aunor’ with a love heart symbol. It was a short, succinct message, but it said a lot. Without realizing it, I have converted my niece to the artistic genius, mystique and magic of Nora Aunor. She had become an instant fan. Nique is now clearly admiring and appreciating the enigma that is Nora Aunor. I’d like to think of this as a good thing as it guarantees that Nora’s legacy, and other cultural and artistic legacies from our generation, would receive, I hope, a continuous appreciation among the new generation of young Filipino-Australians.
Postscript: Nora extended her stay in Sydney for a private R&R. She had no official engagements after the Sydney show. But the BICOL Inc., a community organisation of Bicolanos, having been made aware that she was still here, invited her to the Feast of our Lady of Penafrancia on Saturday, 4 September 2010, at Lidcombe, New South Wales. Her presence had brought a lot of happiness to all her fans, devotees and kababayans. I acted as her ‘security’ and hawi-boy.
(c) 2010 by Danny Dingle. All rights reserved.
Rod Dingle | Winner, Australian Secretary of the Year (NSW)
State Secretary | FAME Inc.
Filipino Australian Movement for Empowerment, Inc.
All Mail to: PO Box 803 Blacktown NSW 2148 Australia
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