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In Focus: The Asia's Queen of Songs, Pilita Corrales

Pilita Garrido Corrales (born August 22, 1939 in Cebu City, Philippines) is a famous Filipina singer and actress, who is widely referred to as Asia's Queen of Songs, having produced over 135 albums in her music career spanning over four decades.

Corrales has two children, Lourdes Jacqueline Blanco (commonly known as "Jackielou" Blanco) and Ramón Christopher Gutíerrez. Both her two children are also well known celebrity figures in the Philippine Film Industry. Corrales was married in 1963, to the late executive businessman Gonzalo Blanco and separated soon after, while her daughter "Jackielou" was still a child. Gonzalo later died in 1981. Corrales gave birth to her second child, Ramón Christopher, in 1971. Ramón's father is actor Eddie Gutíerrez. On May 22, 2001, Pilita married Paraguayan businessman Carlos Lopez.

Pilita Corrales was born in Lahug, Cebu City, Cebu in 1939. Her father was a Spaniard and her mother was Cebuana. She is multi-lingual and speaks Spanish, English, Tagalog, and Cebuano fluently. After finishing her studies at Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion in her native land of Cebu, she went to Spain to enroll in a finishing school in music. In 1958, Pilita began her recording career after arriving with a shipwrecked troupe of performers in Melbourne. She left her mark by becoming the first woman to make the Australian pop charts with a local recording called 'Come Closer to Me'. She became a star of the Melbourne TV circuit and her first hit, Come Closer to Me, became part of a collection on which she’s billed as one of the Grand Dames of Melbourne Radio and Television.

Pilita holds the distinction of being the first female artist to top the Australian pop music charts long before Helen Reddy, Olivia Newton-John and Kylie Minogue. Pilita also recorded at least 3 LPs in the late 1950s-early 1960s: Pilita with Arthur Young: Pilita tells The Story of Love, I'll Take Romance and This is Pilita under Astor Records. Being one of the pioneers of Australia's early television years, a street was named after her outside Melbourne. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) recently featured Pilita and several pioneering female artists in Australia in the 2nd episode of the highly acclaimed TV special, Love is in the Air. Pilita returned to Manila during the mid 1960s to pursue a career in the Philippine music industry.

Her Philippine career began when she hosted a radio program La Taverna over DZPI where she sang Spanish songs and played the guitar. She performed regularly in stage shows at the Manila Grand Opera House. Subsequently, her reputation grew and during her international stints, she has performed with internationally acclaimed artists like Sammy Davis Jr. the Beatles, Bob Hope, Pat Boone, Frank Sinatra and Julie Andrews. She also appeared in movies, most of them musicals. Her film debut was a lead role in the 1968 film Miss Wawaw, and was followed by 11 more movies for the next two years. Pilita later recorded numerous albums in Spanish in the early 60s as well as numerous long playing albums in English, Tagalog and Cebuano during the 1970s under Vicor Music Corporation. Her multiawarded TV program at ABS-CBN, An Evening with Pilita (1965-1972), is widely considered as one of the benchmarks in Philippine broadcasting history.

Pilita frequently performed for Seeing Stars with Joe Quirino in IBC-Channel 13 after the martial law years where she demonstrated her range as a gifted performer of Spanish, English, Cebuano and Tagalog music. Aquarius Record Philippines produced a compilation of Pilita's Spanish songs in CDs like Noche de Ronda, Vaya Con Dios. Her signature song A Million Thanks to You was translated in seven languages. She eventually recorded songs composed by Filipino composers like Danny Holmsen, George Canseco, Willy Cruz, Ryan Cayabyab and several others. Under Vicor Records, Pilita interpreted numerous Filipino classics and introduced them to younger audiences.

Pilita first met Canseco in Your Evening with Pilita (aired on pre-Martial Law ABS-CBN) as a guest in the composers' portion of the show". For the show Canseco brought with him You're All I Love. Canseco later wrote Filipino lyrics for the song, which became Kapantay ay Langit, the first song Canseco sold to a record label in 1966. The song was first recorded by Amapola for the movie theme of Kapantay Ay Langit starring Marlene Dauden and Eddie Rodríguez. The song won for George Canseco and Amapola the Manila Film Festival award for best song of the year. The song did not fare well commercially, because Amapola had left (for her U.S. concert tours) and the song was not promoted properly, according to Canseco during an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer. But when Pilita revived the song, it turned into a classic and defied trends and time. "The song," Pilita said, "was included in my album Philippine Love Songs Vol. 1, which was released in the early 1970s."

Through the personal invitation of Sammy Davis Jr., Pilita became the first Filipino to sing in Caesars Palace. In her concert in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas during the late 70s, Pilita sang Spanish, English, Cebuano and Tagalog songs, all conducted and arranged by Ryan Cayabyab.

After receiving a 1965 Philippine Citizen's Award for TV as Best TV Female Performer, Pilita went on to receive Cecil, Aliw, Tinig and Awit and several other awards for her performances and lifetime achievement. In 1990, she received a Merit Award from the FAMAS Awards. In 1991, she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI) for bringing Filipino musical artistry to international audience. She also holds the distinction of being the first Filipino to win in an international music festival by bagging the Best Performer Award during the 1st Tokyo Music Festival (1972) where she bested numerous international artists including the highly-regarded Olivia Newton-John.

These days she operates Pilita, a restaurant-bar in Greenhills named: PILITA'S, one of Manila's prime commercial districts. She is also a highly-acclaimed host and comedy actress on Philippine television. With over 135 albums to her credit and an international profile with many appearances in Asia, the Middle East, Australia and North America, she still enjoys a reputation as “singing icon and living legend.”

In 2006, Pilita Corrales was handpicked by Associated Broadcasting Company (ABC Channel 5) and FremantleMedia to be one of the celebrity-judges for the first-ever nationwide search for the Philippine Idol together with composer Ryan Cayabyab and rapper Francis Magalona. She was a judge in the first Asian Idol held in Indonesia, representing Philippine Idol.

Clips from Autralian TV Channel Documentary

"Somos Novios"

Link: Buy Pilita's Spanish albums, 'Noche de Ronda' and 'Vaya Con Dios'.

Source: Wikipedia

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