Meet Karencitta, the Ce­buana

Sounds Fa­mil­iar

The Philippine Star - - ENTERTAINMENT - BABY A. GIL

For a few years now, I was fear­fully un­der the im­pres­sion that Filipino pop mu­sic has been des­tined to stay mired in Tad­hana,

Dahil Sa ‘yo and the pained mus­ings of Moira de la Torre. I was hop­ing for some­thing ex­cit­ing to hap­pen but had no idea what it should be. And then, lit­er­ally out of the blue, it was there. Sur­pris­ingly, it turned out to be hip-hop and even more sur­pris­ing, with a mix of English and Ce­buano lyrics. The song is Ce­buana which af­ter be­ing up­loaded on

Spo­tify last Novem­ber was named Top Most Vi­ral Mu­sic on the site. The mu­sic video notched a stag­ger­ing one mil­lion views in only 24 hours af­ter it was up­loaded on YouTube. A few weeks ago, the song be­came the theme of the Sin­u­log Fes­ti­val in Cebu.

The honor was un­of­fi­cial. No procla­ma­tion was made. But ev­ery­where you go in Cebu, pick out any of the fes­tiv­i­ties and you will surely hear “drop your glasses/ n shake ya asses/ I wanna get witchu/ and I’m feelin’ real nasty…ari ba, ari ba…” chanted to pul­sat­ing beat.

What hap­pened was a dream come true for 22-year-old Karen Ann Cabr­era who goes by the by­line of Karencitta. Af­ter years of try­ing to make it in show busi­ness as a singer, ac­tress and song­writer, she went to bed nurs­ing her hopes as usual and woke up to a mil­lion hits. Not only that, she had al­ways wanted to write and per­form some­thing dis­tinctly Filipino and prefer­ably in her na­tive Ce­buano. She felt that she was able to ac­com­plish that with Ce­buana.

Karencitta was born in Aus­tralia of Filipino par­ents from Cebu. She came home when she was four years old to com­pete in the Lit­tle Miss Philip­pines con­test in the TV show, Eat, Bu­laga. She did not win the ti­tle but she was named Lit­tle Miss Friend­ship. “From that time on, I knew I wanted to be in show busi­ness,” re­calls the tall, reed-thin and bub­bly Karencitta in her mix of Los An­ge­les English and Ce­buano.

She con­tin­ues: “I had lessons in ev­ery­thing. Singing lessons, danc­ing lessons, vi­o­lin lessons, act­ing lessons, even swim­ming lessons. My par­ents sup­ported my dream.” She also de­vel­oped the dis­ci­pline of go­ing to au­di­tions like X Fac­tor and

Miss Saigon here. “I live in L.A. now and 90 per­cent of an ac­tor’s life there is spent go­ing to au­di­tions. I go ev­ery­where. I was do­ing all right. I was get­ting small roles like in Grey’s Anatomy and How To

Get Away With Mur­der and I was work­ing with pro­ducer Jon In­goldsby.”

It was In­goldsby who hooked Karencitta up with Tc, a then only 14-year-old pro­ducer from Aus­tria. “I liked the way he used the vi­o­lin in his work. That was im­por­tant to me be­cause I wanted to mix old and new, hip-hop and na­tive Ce­buano. I also in­sisted to Jon that we use the Sin­u­log beat in the song. It took a while to con­vince him but he fi­nally got it and it was all that I wanted.” Ce­buana has opened up a lot of doors for Karencitta in the Philip­pines. “And to think I never won any­thing and didn’t make the au­di­tions here.” Her con­tract with Viva Com­mu­ni­ca­tions cov­ers con­certs, she is guest­ing in the JaDine Rev­o­lu­tion show at the Araneta Coli­seum tonight; record­ings, she has plans of re­leas­ing an al­bum soon; and films, a mu­si­cal ti­tled In­dak is now in the works. Then, there is still L.A., where she has es­tab­lished a base and the al­bum with In­goldsby. As for us, we now wait for what Karencitta will do next. She says, “It is my con­scious de­ci­sion to be­come a trend­set­ter.” We are in for in­ter­est­ing times. The Top 20 tunes in the Philip­pine Vi­ral Chart that con­quered last Novem­ber are the fol­low­ing: from by Zhavic; by Zac Efron and Zen­daya from the sound­track of by the Ex Bat­tal­ion OC Dawgs; by Drake; by Dua Lipa; by Shanti Dope; by Keala Set­tle also from by Loren Allred from the same movie; again from the sound­track of the TV show by Zhavic; by Na­dine Lus­tre. by Dar­ren Es­panto; by Bazzi; by Shanti Dope fea­tur­ing Gloc-9; by Rudi­men­tal feat. Jess Glyn­nie, Mack­le­more and Dan Ca­plan; by Shanti Dope; again from by Ziv Zaif­man and Hugh Jack­man; by Bumkey; by Korean pop idol Vin­cent Blue; About You by Gra­cenote; and by Be­cause.

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