Pilita Corrales Is Still The Top

Features Jul 27, 2018 at 3:22 pm

Pilita CoralesBy Marra PL. Lanot

Listen to Pilita Corrales singing. You’ll see the sun rise at sea, not the beating of angry waves on the shore. You’ll hear the gentle breeze in the treetops, not the tempest howling at night. For Pilita is not quarrelsome. Her voice is calm, smooth, and soothing, She chooses not to dwell on heartaches and personal tragedies.

Perhaps it’s because she’d rather forget her painful experiences. She can sing happy notes, though she can also stretch sad tunes to your heartstrings without overacting.

“Asia’s Queen of Songs” gives no clue, for instance, that once upon a time she and first husband Gonzalo Blanco separated. After the separation, Gonzalo Blanco (who died in 1981) had Pilita’s signature forged and abducted their little daughter Jackie Lou Blanco and flew to the United States. The distraught Pilita tried to find her daughter until, with the help of the National Bureau of Investigation, Jackie Lou was returned to her.

Years later, Pilita’s live-in partner, singer Amado del Paraguay, subjected her to ten years of domestic violence. He would get drunk and hit her. Once, she lost her voice, and another time, he threw a telephone at her and her ear bled.

Pilita was even shipwrecked at sea for nine days.

Now the love of her life is second husband, businessman Carlos Lopez. They had known each other for some 20 years before they tied the knot. The supportive husband takes the backseat during Pilita’s concerts. He manages Pilita’s businesses like the now-defunct Pilita’s Restaurant in Greenhills, and the Tangerine Meditereannean Restaurant, also in Greenhills, where Pilita sings.

Pilita was born on August 22, 1939, in Lahug, Cebu. Her mother is Maria Garrido, a Spanish seamstress, and her father was José Garrido, half-Filipino and half-Spanish and a high official at Coke. When Pilita’s father died, the mother opened a boardinghouse for Spaniards.

Pilita was sent to the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion Elementary School in Cebu, the Holy Family, and St. Theresa’s. She took up a secretarial course at St. Paul’s. In Madrid, she went to a finishing school and learned the “proper” way to walk, dancing, cooking, how to accept male visitors, etc. – in short, how to be a “lady,” or a housewife.

Soon, because her widowed mother didn’t want to return to Cebu, she, together with her six children, migrated to Sydney, Australia, in 1958, where they had many relatives. There, Pilita’s singing career began. She was the first female on Australian pop charts with the song “Come Closer to Me.” Concerts followed in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart, and Victoria. She made recordings and radio and television guestings. “My mother did my gowns,’ Pilita happily recalls, “so, I wore a different gown each time I sang.”

Pilita became so popular a street in Victoria was even named after her: Pilita. Pilita, in fact, was one of the pioneers of Australian television.

In 1968, she was back in the Philippines. She became the disc jockey of DZPI’s “La Taverna,” where she sang Spanish songs and played the guitar. She joined a variety show at the Manila Grand Opera House and at the Clover Theater. In the 1960s and the early ’70s, she had TV shows, “An Evening with Pilita,” “Your Evening with Pilita,” and “A Million Thanks to You” with the Wing Duo (Nikki Ross and Angie de la Cruz) as guests. She recorded Filipino, Cebuano, and Spanish songs for Vicor and Viva.

Pilita performed in Las Vegas, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, New York, Washington, D.C., and other parts of the world. She also performed with Bob Hope, Engelbert Humperdinck, Frank Sinatra, Matt Monro, Sammy Davis Jr., and Jack Jones,

In a Magic Show in the U.S., she even sang in a flying saucer. And during concert on the 17th floor of a Tokyo hotel, an earthquake occurred.

Pilita has appeared in teleseryes and in the movies. Tickets to her concert at the Theater of Solaire in late 2017 were sold out.

How does she compare performing in live concerts and appearing in the movies or television? “Teleseryes have moral lessons. But I get more satisfaction in front of a live audience. Kelangan makinig ka. You know if they hate you or love you.” About the recording industry, she thinks it’s “in a bad, bad state because of downloading.”

Today, Pilita Corrales likes staying home. She wakes up around 9 or 10 am, then goes down to her office after breakfast to check her email, study lyrics, goes to the grocery, goes walking for 30 minutes, and goes to bed before midnight.” I don’t know how to cook,” she declares. “I like salads, soup, fruits, fish. I love to listen to new music, new arrangement. I like watching movies. I don’t drink or smoke.”

Sundays she spends with her grandchildren Kenneth, Rikki May, and Arabelle (by Jackie Lou and actor Ricky Davao), and Janine (Pilita’s look-alike), Jessica, Diego, and Maxene (by Ramoncito Gutierrez, Pilita’s love child by actor Eddie Gutierrez, and actor Lotlot de Leon).

Describing herself as “basically a happy person,” Pilita’s Leo personality shines on stage in her favorite white, black, red, electric blue or tangerine color. She may be cool as a cucumber, but she’s all fire as she sways and bends backward, sultry in her tight-fitting gown, scintillating as the star that she is.