It was in October 2005 when we live recorded my first album Café Bossa in the function room of Stonehouse Bed and Breakfast in Quezon City; February 2006 when it was released.
I had no idea it was gonna be a big hit - reaching double platinum status in a few months (that’s 60,000 units sold), perhaps one of the few albums to still enjoy commercial success before the onslaught of piracy. I have been singing professionally in hotel lounges and bars for about four years already by then to support my studies, but didn’t really think it would be my career - I was just having fun. And even when I was recording the album that day, what I remember thinking about the most was that we had to finish by 7pm - otherwise I wouldn’t make it to my gig at the Makati Shangri-la that night, hehe!
But Café Bossa and that well-loved song Para sa Akin changed my life. It gave me a musical identity no one can ever take away.. It allowed me to stay on the course of a musical career - and ten years later, to still be at it. Countless shows, gigs, tv appearances, recognitions, travels out of town and overseas, and eight albums after - my journey as an artist continues.
A lot of people ask me - how does it feel like, reaching this tenth year mark? What has changed? How have I changed?
Maturity seems to be my only answer at this point, and what a welcome change it is. Gone are most of my singing insecurities, replaced by acceptance and appreciation of what I can and cannot do. I’m done trying to defend my voice, or my singing style, or my kind of music - it is what it is. The frightened, squeaky girl inside me has also departed, replaced by this strong woman who just continues to soldier on in life and love and music. Life has taught me many things; the stage and the recording booth always ask me to be brave, to enjoy the process, to perform the best I can because to do less than that would be a waste. Ten years have taught me to just let go, have fun, and to be happy in my craft.
How does reaching ten years feel like? Surreal, I tell them, and I tell you now. All I have done with my life since then was to sing, and the songs don’t seem to add up to a decades’ worth. It just was, it just is, and I continue to be amazed at how time does fly when you’re having fun, how music can take you to a different yet equally comfortable home, how it bridges people and emotions, how creating it is as precious as life, how not one moment is ever the same..
I continue to be grateful to all the fans and the support from family and friends who still make my artistry relevant. Fans who message me on Facebook and tell me that my songs are their companions in traffic, while studying, how it helped them win a loved one, how it didn’t work out in the end. Doctors who say that they play my music to calm some patients down before an operation, and parents who named their children after me. Can you believe it? Haha!
I remember one particular afternoon in Pampanga after I had a mall show. A beautiful and serene person came up to me and told me how Café Bossa helped during her chemotherapy sessions.. and I could never forget that. My husband Joey, said, “that’s enough reason to sing for a lifetime”, and I agree, it is.
To my fans, let me tell you this: I will sing for as long as you wish me to, for as long as God blesses me with a voice. I love you all so much, though I haven’t met all of you, and one too many times in the ten years that has passed, when I was drowning in harsh self-critique and low confidence in my singing, it was one or two of you who would message me with encouraging words. You were all my lifesavers, at many points. Thank you all so so much, for believing in me, and for continuing to. Thank you for helping me reach a decade.
And to our Almighty Father who loves and cares for and blesses each and everyone of us beyond what we deserve, thank You for allowing me to sing. Thank You for all the gifts of love and life and music. All of this, is from You..
Happy tenth, Café Bossa. I can never make another album like you, and why would I? You were untainted and pristine, perfect in your imperfections. And I suppose that was what made you so relatable, and still a part of many playlists.
See you on Friday and Saturday as we celebrate Café Bossa’s ten years, my birthday, and new music launch! ElectroSitti, Music Museum, 8pm. Tickets thru Ticketworld 891-9999.
My bossa love always,