A Pinoy star is born

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

LET me share with you yet another story about a Filipino who excelled in the US, specifically here in North Carolina.

A year ago, I received a call at Raleigh, North Carolina from barangay (village) chairman Aaron Neri of Macasanding, in my beloved town of Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.

Aaron's younger brother Andy Neri is a resident of Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. Aaron was visiting his brother that time.

Andy was a year younger than me at Tagoloan Central Elementary School and at St. Mary’s High School but I knew everyone in the family because we were neighbors in our hometown.

I might forget that I am writing about Andy’s daughter Anthea Neri, and not him, but I have to mention the family for readers back home in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental who would understand better what I am talking about.

Andy Neri is a nurse by profession and served in the Persian Gulf War while his wife Emmeline Ho is a doctor from Cadiz City, Negros Occidental who graduated at the Southwestern University in Cebu.

We talked about a lot of things last week and I came to know that he has a daughter, a singer who is joining the relief efforts for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).

Anthea, the second child of four of the Neri couple, is a singer and songwriter who recently signed with Steven Hero Productions. She was born in the Philippines and can understand a little Tagalog and Bisaya.

For her rubbing elbows with personalities is not just about advancing a career but an opportunity to showcase her talents as a Filipino-American to the international stage.

The 31-year-old Anthea graduated from Western Carolina University.

She collaborated with Jerry Jean Media for her single “Stronger’ and is working on a new album with BxB studios to be released on the spring of 2014.

She performs Original Pilipino Music (OPM) at the Carnegie Hall.

For a bit of Throwback Thursday (or Sentimental Saturday when this article is published in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines), Anthea knew she was meant for something big when she sang to her mother using her old stethoscope while her father served in the Persian Gulf war.

While doing household chores, Anthea would sing to her cousins but they would only laugh at her, telling her how awful her voice was.

She told of how she joined the school choir and even the teacher wouldn't know where to put her.

“My voice just didn’t blend,” she quipped.

But her faith in herself prevailed when she represented the US as the East Coast Champion on the Philippines GMA 7 Pinoy Pop Superstar.

That time, she was taken seriously as a performer and she delivered her best on the world stage.

“I had a taste of how music can impact the world,” Anthea told me.

Today, no one is telling this granddaughter of Nong Dodo Neri and Iya Emma that she can't sing.

“Now I know anything is possible,” Anthea said.

In New York, she worked with everyone from Baayork Lee to Alex Timbers, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim and had TV appearances in the Rachel Ray Show, the CBS TV series Blue Bloods and the popular Netflix show Orange is the New Black.

She also performed at Carnegie Hall, where she helped raise over $14,000 for a medical mission in the Philippines.

The proceeds of the song “Stronger” will be donated to the Red Cross for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines.

More recently, Anthea and her team donated a percentage of the sales of one of her singles “Once in a Lifetime” to the Philippine Red Cross.

“I was super-excited to have a chance to be part of two benefit concerts, one of which was held at the Philippine Consulate and together we raised over $6,000 that was donated to charity organizations. One of the recipients was Doctors Without Borders,” Anthea said.

To the typhoon victims in Central Philippines, Anthea has this to say: “To all my loves in the Philippines, keep being strong, continue leading with your hearts and I love you all.”

Next Saturday, I would share with you her experiences as a singer and how she reached New York.

Till then. More power to her and to you, dear readers.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 28, 2013.


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