Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Jerson Trinidad, A Voice From Woop-woop

Here's a caricature of an old friend. How shall I label it? I'll try..

Jerson Trinidad WWW.
Pioneer Filipino-Australian Idol

Even before the internet, the initials “www.” for us guys here in the Filipino-Australian community meant Wagga Wagga Wonder, period.

Can’t argue. That was a period driven by rich, patriotic adrenalin. The boy with a golden voice comes from an Australian town so far away from Sydney, people refer to it as woop-woop (Australian for the middle of nowhere).

YouTube nothing, those were the days Pinoys in every Filipino food store would greet each other “Ayy napanood mo si Jerson sa TV kagabi; naku laglag ang pantinola ko!” ..and another..“Hanep si Jerson! Lalaking-lalaki!” (affectionate + a little sarcastic laughter) That translates to “Hey did you watch Jerson last night? Oh goodness me, my garters broke!” “Jerson’s incredible, he looked so macho!”

Jerson was television’s darling when he won Star Search in 1992, a singing competition to what is now Australian Idol. Wagga Wagga locals, including drovers, crowded it’s lone pub to see on television their local larrikin Jerson make waves in the Big Smoke.

His mum is Filipina and has settled in step with his father in Wagga Wagga until he moved out to Sydney to pluck his oyster. He indulged.

The following year Jerson became champion of the popular Bert Newton’s New Faces on Channel 10. Wagga Wagga was once again put on the map, topography of which included a proud Filipino Australian community. Soon boy wonder touched every microphone in Sydney’s night life. Session bands were desperate for him. He also sung solo, most of the time performing with imported OPM (Original Pinoy Music) artists from Manila. He was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of friends who sometimes spoilt him.

I can read Jerson like a book. He lived in a room in my house for a while, that was when I was still married to a fabulous singer. But that’s another story. Jerson banged on my piano all night long trying to capture some mysterious notes with grim determination. I told him “Jerson next life you should be a violin!”

There’s a wild and romantic man in Jerson which he longed to release via cool and expressive genres like soul, jazz and funk - yet his heart remained aloof of gender stereotypes. Then Jerson disappeared from Sydney. Mental posters were pasted all over Fil-Aus community’s nocturnal metropolitan walls—Jerson Trinidad is missing! Was he kidnapped?

Grand Hyatt Melbourne won’t let go of Jerson - that I found out when we were there after attending a Filipino fiesta where I was commissioned to do promotional caricatures for a Pinoy global media company.

Tito Edd, masaya naman ako dito. Dinadayo ang Hyatt dahil sa amin (the band) o dahil sa akin, hahaha! (“Uncle” Edd, I’m happy here. People come from afar to see our band, or maybe to see me.”) He was right. The Hyatt crowd wanted more and kept the bar busy. Fair dinkum, I heard this from a British patron sitting beside me. “Most awesome band I’ve ever heard, incredible voice that Jerson guy!”

Looking at my watch it was almost 1 a.m. and I thought drummer was tired when he rose up only to be replaced by a guest drummer who stormed in and made all our jaws drop. It’s the famous Guy Sebastian, the first Australian Idol!

Gee, I didn’t know he could play drums. However I know Guy’s a music teacher and need not be surprised. I learned he often jams with Jerson. Lots of souveneir photographs were taken after the show and with a big, white cloud of smoke as signal, I caught Jerson’s attention and finally snared the hostage:

EA: So what are you up to now, Jers?

JT: Working on an album now, Tito Edd, under Mustang Records. The album is called
Soul Dancing!

EA: Wow astig! Is that for mainstream?

JT: Of course Tito, it’s jazzy and a lot of funk style.

EA: I can’t wait. How long has Hyatt held you err…“hostage”?

JT: About 5 years now Tito and it hurts.. they don’t wanna let go of me! (giggles) although I’m beginning to like it here.

EA: Oh Jerson, that’s called the Stockholm syndrome, just like in the movie Dog Day Afternoon where hostages sympathize with the kidnapper. Ha-ha-ha, I guess it works out okay for both parties. So what do you mean there’s change soon?
JT: I’m off for Japan and will be there for 3 months.

EA: Why? You’re not gonna burn all karaoke machines there are you?

JT: Ha-ha, no Tito, I’ll be there on a social investigation mission. I’ll have to find out which big

hotel can keep me hostage and if the ransom can’t be paid by the next bigger hotel then you know…good for me, ha-ha-ha!

EA: I’m an ignorant and jealous Sydneysider, so what’s happening in your Hyatt Melbourne gigs?

JT: It’s great but regularity wears me out, except on occasions where there are international singer guests who stay at the Hyatt. Just recently I was doing a duet with
Jamie Cullum who was so gracious enough to get bored in his majestic room and came down to listen to me until he actually sang a song with us house band who are also Pinoys!

EA: That’s terrific Jers, am proud of you and the Pinoy talent. Who are you listening to right now?

JT: Frank McKomb, great jazz singer. He inspires me a lot.

EA: Who else inspires you Jers?

JT: Still the great Al Jarreu and George Benson Tito Edd. And they will be staying at the Hyatt, too this month. That means they’ll also get bored in their luxurious rooms, come down and shall jam with me (giggles again). Cough-cough.

EA: Hey Jerson, you’re smoking too much. Take care of your singing throat and leave some for me, hahaha! Seriously though, when are you coming back to Sydney?

JT: I don’t know yet Tito, but I’d love to. I was in Sydney last year front-acting for APO Hiking Society at the State theatre. There I saw again old friends. I was so teary-eyed, Tito, because they missed me so much!

EA: Maybe because you owe them money!:)

JT: Hahaha ay naku Tito mabait na po ako ngayon. (I’m a good boy now uncle.); but I’ll have to move on.

EA: Good luck to you Jerson. Does your mum still live in Wagga Wagga?

JT: Forgot to tell you, we’ve moved away already Tito Edd.

EA: Oh really? Whereabouts now?

JT: I visit mum now at Warrnambool!

EA: Huh? Now that’s even woop-woop-er!

JT: Ha-ha-ha, they love it there, the couple would never trade the vast space of land and sky for city living.

EA: Thanks Jerson, all the best and hope to hear from you soon… and good luck to your Japan stint. You won’t be lonely with all the Pinoy musicians there. Now don’t spoil yourself too much, you’re an artiste not a Yakuza layaw, Japrox! (Sorry, hard to translate:)

JT: Ha-ha-ha. That would be a cute title for a song! Thank you, too Tito Edd! By the way I love reading your blogs! A big hello to your readers! Salamat po sa inyong patuloy na pagtangkilik sa kakayahan ng mga Pilipino-Australyano (Thank you for continuously patronising the Filipino-Australian talent).

Watch Jerson sing Stevie Wonder's classic knocks me off my feet.

this article is published in Bayanihan News, March 2007 All rights reserved

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