Finally, Singapore! (Why I Don’t Handle My Own Bookings)
Finally, Singapore! At long last, a negotiation between producer and this talent’s management has been secured that would result in my voice and songs finally getting the chance to be heard in this foreign shore. I thought it would never happen.
Singapore and I have quite a delicate history. I was supposed to sing here year 2008 and when that didn’t materialize, and with each passing year resulting in inquiries that never got settled, I was getting convinced that I’ll never be given the chance to sing here.
Until now. Finally, our stars have aligned. And with much ease, mind you.
Let me take you back to third quarter of 2008, a time of much personal turmoil for my mom and me. You see, my former manager and I had a falling out - and it was ugly, heart-breaking, and in hindsight, given how my career started, quite a sad ending.. I really wish we had separated in better terms. Manager-less, my Ninong and I took on all bookings and inquiries. My Ninong did well, I must say, while I did poorly.
So poorly, in fact, that in that window in my career when I was arranging everything myself, an inquiry from a prestigious PR firm in SG came in: they wanted to launch and represent me in SG along with another Asian artist, and to start off they wanted me to open for Diana Krall!
I was beyond excited! They even flew me and my mom to SG for one day just to meet and discuss plans. Everything was set. This was my opportunity to be introduced to the discerning SG market, and subsequently, hopefully, the rest of Asia. And of course, the chance to open for Diana Krall!! Diana freaking Krall!!
Mama and I flew home to Manila, returned to our daily routine. At around this time too, there was to be a show in the US, and I went to the embassy for visa application on the scheduled day.
SG people and I were in constant touch, exchanging emails, going over everything. I think I was generally numb around that time, reeling from doing all the bookings myself, wrapping my mind around the fact that I was going to open for Diana Krall, and sad and hurt with how I left former management. Finally, the day arrived when I was to fly to Singapore. Mama and I packed our things, went over everything -
And that was when I realized I had no passport, that it was still at the US embassy.
I HAD NO PASSPORT.
I COULDN’T FLY TO SINGAPORE…
GOODBYE, OPENING ACT FOR DIANA KRALL, and God only knows what else..
Crying, I wrote an email to my contact and tearfully explained the situation. They never replied, and I totally understand. I was such an idiot, such a stupid, stupid idiot who blew this really big, once in a lifetime opportunity.
It is one of my biggest regrets..
I’ve come to acceptance, of course. But that was also when I realized that I could not be trusted upon to handle my own affairs career-wise, that it isn’t my strength, that someone else has to do it for me.
This, plus the fact that I hate talking about my talent fee with other people, especially with close family and friends, acquaintances. I never really know how much to price myself - that this is best left to professional handlers and to the naturally-occurring law of supply and demand. And in our close-knit society of gossipmongers, word travels lightning-fast - a single conversation can be twisted, a price given can be interpreted as “ang mahal naman ng tingin niya sa sarili niya e ganito lang naman siya”, etc etc. How do we, artists, protect ourselves and the talent we earn and make a living from?
There are others who excel at it, who sing and handle their own bookings, but not me.
Thankfully, in November of 2008, I was given the chance to meet with renowned talk show host and talent manager, Tito Boy Abunda of Backroom, Inc (now Asian Artists Agency, Inc). He was responsible for the careers of Ariel Rivera, Dessa, and Martin Nievera, to name a few, and continues to be one of the very few people in show business who have maintained their dignity and credibility. But beyond his genius (I swear, this person knows so much about everything!) his most shining characteristics are his kindness and generosity. Joey and I are very blessed to have him in our lives, as our Ninong, mentor, and friend.
I will never forget our first meeting. He talked a lot about maintaining my “core”, how I was “queen” already, and as such, career-wise, there is nothing much to change, only a few embellishments here and there, strengthening and support in PR, etc. When we reached that awkward yet essential part in the conversation, that of commission, I was very surprised when he said that his management agency charges a minimal fee, because in his very own words, “wala nang kikitain ang artista, kawawa naman“ (kung lakihan pa).
Ang bait niya, noh?
That was also the very first time I met Jonathan Valdez, the handler who was assigned to me who, until now, manages my bookings, and very efficiently, and seamlessly, handles all pertinent details. All I really have to do is to show up, sing, and do the best that I can at every show. He makes my singing life so easy, and I will always be grateful to and for him.
There was another instance in which a close family friend asked me to sing in a fundraising show for their church. They didn’t want to talk to my handler because he might charge highly (which is a very false misconception - because all handlers charge current market value fees, a range that they arrive at through their experience at negotiations). But because we were really close, I said yes, marked the date -
Then forgot about it. #facepalm
Jonathan was working on another booking on the same day, not knowing that I said yes to another one. Of course, since my arrangement was verbal while Jonathan’s has a written contract and all, guess who I had to cancel and apologize to?
Again, ladies and gentlemen, dearest friends, these are the reasons why I don’t handle my own bookings, why I pass every single inquiry on to my management.
Still, there are others who insist that we go “under the table”, who tempt and wheedle their way in, who ask that I give a “friendly rate”, para lahat daw nung pera mapunta sa akin, para hindi na ako makomisyonan. Of course, I say no. In Matthew 22:21, when Jesus was asked if it is right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar, Jesus replied, “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”. The command is crystal clear.
My management and I have an agreement based on good faith. Why would I endanger that relationship with deceit and mistrust? Why would I go behind their backs to gain some money when it is ill-gotten? How different would doing that be from the actions of a common thief?
All provisions and all booking inquiries come from God. He sees everything.. He knows everything, even our very intentions. Why would I cheat on His goodness? If I fail and sin repeatedly in other aspects in my life, at the very least in this area, I can meet Him and proudly proclaim that I am clean.
Forgive me for sounding so serious. These sentiments have been with me for years and this is the only time I got to write about it.
We are at the hotel now, will be napping in a bit because our flight was very early. We’ll be playing two sets tonight at the Blowfish Bar with my super galing guitarist, Erskine Basilio. I’m very much looking forward to finally sharing our music with our kababayans here in Singapore. :)
Thank You, Father, for finally bringing me here.
See you all later!!
Tickets to tonight’s show at anightwithsitti.peatix.com :)