There are succinct reasons why I did not post for the past few days, mainly because of the distractions in Dubai, but mainly because posting from here in Dubai isn't as easy.
I've had the opportunity to think about the ill will and the inherent parochialism of many Filipinos. It wasn't really my fault that something happened to the CD.
Dagger looks were the order of the day right from the occurrence. It was just something I knew I would never live down, and by extended effect, the whole of our organization. The contender's mother was on the lookout from thereon in the program, to see if any other shenanigans would occur. But of course by that time the worst was over and it was pretty much smooth sailing. Still, the crowd would have probably killed me on the spot had the worst happened. No, they probably wouldn't have killed me, but I just narrowly missed being lynched.
(It feels sort of "cool" to be the subject of a lynching. At least somebody cares enough with a passion to want to hurt you. It's a twisted feeling, and it behooves me well not to dwell on it.)
The judges had a twist in the announcement of the winners. The contenders were grouped into clusters of three. The first three names to be announced were those who were disqualified - I had expected Camille not to make it - but I know she is still young and good things may happen to her yet. That's the beauty of this entire process - she lives to fight another day.
Then the names of the three qualifiers were called out - and when the first name called was Jasmine's, the entire house went down. Even the neutrals were won over by her sweetness and charm. It is because of this fact that I believe she just has to watch herself and train well - the Riyadh crowd will, I hope, see her as the way we see her. Then Kim's name was called, to raucous cheers. There was, however, some derision because the first name called wasn't hers, even though the judges had patently made clear that the order of the announcement of the names did not follow any specific pattern. In any case, the scores wouldn't matter come the next round in Riyadh because they start from zero.
Finally it was down to the last name - and after a few tense moments, Alma's name was called. I was already betting on Tim or one of the other contestants, Ariel G. (a great vocal talent but not really a "Pop Star"). She too had a large gallery, and the cheering nearly brought down the house too.
All in all, except for that unfortunate incident, it was a great evening.
The fathers of the two qualifiers almost came to blows following the show. I admire their devotion and all, but I believe they are sending the wrong message to their daughters. Come on, no rivalry is worth it! There is some history to this --- our group began because of the dissatisfaction of the parents over the perceived (which was eventually validated as actual) discrimination by which Kim's father and voice coach applied to his students. Under his system, only his favorites were given the opportunities to grow. So eventually the parents who came to form SPA left his group to form their own (just about the same time I arrived in KSA, which was a blessing to all concerned). The charge of favoritism was finally validated with the opening of the TFC contest. The vocal coach refused to train any of his other charges who joined the contest - and two others qualified, Jasmine being one of them. The other went home to the Philippines for vacation and pulled out of the contest.
Now, as to the politics of this situation, I pretty much have no comment since I hardly know any of the parents personally. It's just surprising (and alarming) that Kim's mother wanted to seek me out and hunt me down for my perceived wrongdoing. I have no complaints with the handling of our organization of the entire matter, but even so, the rivalry, if at all, should be downplayed. There is enough room, and enough "business" for us to do our own community work. If at all, we should be exchanging information and sharing best practices.
I do, however, have some reservations since I trust my fellows in their perception that Kim's father is into the vocal training just for the money, and not much value-added at that. I'd like to meet him and share views with him on this, but I'm afraid it would be hard to give him that chance since I'm not much of a "glad-hander" to win him over, and I'm pretty certain he wouldn't do the same for me, either.
One part of me mourns this turn of events. Why do we have to persist in this kind of parochialism? Ennui? A need to compete? Genuine antipathy? And these are not even our day jobs! That's why I feel so sad that any ill will has to exist, and that I have to be party to its kindling. I would have hoped to build more bridges rather than burning them down.
I'm sorry that such a thing had happened under my watch, and if there's anything to blame, it is that we have put too much trust in technology when all of us knew that Murphy's Law grows geometrically with the introduction of more technology.
As to any lynching campaign, all I can say is: BRING IT ON! There is some good karma to have such notoriety. The lynched are also called another word. They are called saints.