How Pilita became 'Asia's Queen of Songs'

Posted at 07/04/12 4:53 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- The tag "Asia's Queen of Songs" wasn't a manufactured tag aimed at launching Pilita Corrales to stardom, but a title she earned after making her mark in the international music scene.

Pilita Corrales. File photo

The veteran singer was the first Filipino to win in an international music festival -- the first Tokyo Music Festival in 1972.

Despite having had her share of the international limelight even prior to the Tokyo tilt, Corrales didn't waltz into the competition with chin-up confidence, she recalled.

"I was very nervous because the song the George Canseco wrote was not a festival song. It was called 'My Daughter,' which was a very sad song, which he wrote for his daugther," Corrales said in an interview with "Pipol" that aired Monday.

According to Corrales, "sad songs" seemed out of place at the music festivals at the time, which often featured upbeat songs. 

"All festival songs, if you see international singing contests, they're usually happy or very strong. 'My Daughter' ... I don't know. Because all the songs were translated into Japanese, so all the judges -- quite a number -- maybe they liked the song, maybe it touched their hearts," Corrales said.


The venture would prove notable not only for the Philippines, which made its debut in the Asian music fest, but also for Corrales, who would later be dubbed "Asia's Queen of Songs."

"It was the first time that the Philippines was invited, and luckily enough the song won, and then I also won. When I came back, that's when the title came out," Corrales said.

According to the veteran performer, the international recognition only served to boost her celebrity.

"When I was already very popular, I had people knocking on the door and they said, 'Ma'am, may tao doon, may iniwan na susi.' 'Susi sa ano?' Susi daw sa kotse para sa akin na. It was like that before," Corrales shared, laughing.


Three decades after that win, Corrales now pays it forward by scouting new talents who can also earn international admiration for the country. 

Corrales is among the four mentor-judges in the Philippine version of the singing contest "The X-Factor."

With twice-weekly appearances on television and a golden voice intact at 72, Asia's Queen of Songs said she has no plans of retiring anytime soon.

"For now, no. Singing is something that makes you young. Singing gives you -- you can put out your anger, your faith, your love, your passion, in singing," she said.

"I really want to be busy all the time, as long as there is still the demand of people who want you to sing, I'll continue singing."