Arnel Pineda: Voice for the Hopeless

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oprah arnel
When Oprah guested Journey featuring the launch of Arnel Pineda as lead vocalist, she and Arnel clutched hands and bowed to each other in fond respect.

To Filipinos all over the world, Arnel Pineda needs no introduction. His well-known story  has been watched online by millions. [Just in case you missed Oprah’s feature, HERE‘s the link].  Oprah said,” Arnel gives all the credit to his mother) who believed in him long before he believed in himself.” Her prolonged hospitalisation prior to her death (to heart disease) when Arnel was 13 led to their family’s dire straits. “It was her voice that carried me through the pain that I was going through.  She was my biggest influence; she was everything to me,” the singer tearfully expressed.  When he started to be gainfully employed, he began to support his father who once left him (practically to the streets) to fend for himself; he also helped his younger siblings.

From literally singing for your supper to now being able to have anything in the world, what were some of the first things you were able to do for yourself?” Oprah asked Arnel.

He replied, “I put up a foundation called AP Foundation to try to help all these underprivileged kids in the Philippines.

His journey to Journey is a perfect inspirational story of how someone who in the world’s eyes had nothing… reached a stage of having everything.

The legendary rock band, Journey, (now a Rock n Roll Hall of Famer) had a ten-year void after its lead singer (Steve Perry)’s departure. How can a band play without a lead vocalist!?  Can you imagine the instrumental Journey album, Revelation, debuting at “No. 5 on the Billboard charts, selling more than 196,000 units in its first two weeks and staying in the top 20 for six weeks, a 2008 instrumental Journey tour bringing in over $35,000,000 and getting certified platinum by RIAA” and a subsequent sold-out instrumental World Tour?

Journey_publicity_photo_2013
Journey: Arnel, front center, with guitarist Neal Schon, keyboardist Jonathan Cain, bassist Ross Valory, and drummer Steve Smith.

Arnel Pineda filled very big shoes as the band’s lead vocals and from his heart to the top of his lungs breathed into Journey’s second wind.  Ten years after joining the band, Journey was inducted into the Hall of Fame without him getting inducted; he commented, “I’m okay with it.

Neal Schon had said of him, “Arnel makes me a better guy… just to know him.” and “By all accounts, Arnel is salt of the earth.Dean Castronovo said, “The best part about it was how humble the man was… beautiful heart.”

Yesterday, I had the awesome privilege to be on the same stage as THE rock star, Arnel Pineda.

Backstage, I also met his very beautifully fresh-faced wife, Cherry, just as humble.  I told them both that I have a faith encouragement blog and since Arnel is viewed by many as a picture of hope, could he share some words of encouragement?

He had to change and prepare for the 7pm program so I sat with Cherry in a precious time of sharing hearts and prayers.  She was very self-effacing, natural, and stunning even with no makeup.

I realized this was the woman who in pre-Journey days was key to Arnel leaving his old life of vices that once led him to a dead end.  She believed in and stayed with him when he was more of a liability than an asset, when his future was uncertain, more of a broken person rather than the builder of their family he is today.  She helped him to get serious about fixing his life and getting back on track to steward his gift of music. That refresh led to the gigs in Manila that one of his fans-turned-friend, Noel, found, recorded, and uploaded to YouTube which Neal Schon came across.

When her husband is on tour sometimes for months, Cherry holds the fort with their blended family. She says of him, “He is very responsible. He really protects his family; Sobrang bait. Wala akong masabi (so kind/ good. There’s nothing bad I can say of him). He is so good at taking care of the kids.

For our picture, I wanted Cherry to be in the middle but she insisted that I be in the middle so here’s a picture of me as their adopted baby (or more like mama).

Here’s an interview that the gracious Mr. Rockstar, Arnel Pineda himself granted for Butterflyinthespring readers:

Excerpts (Translated):

*What gave me the foundation to be who I am now, to be strong, [was] the amount of desperations, frustrations, rejections that I’ve experienced. 

*They have to embrace their God given-talent.

*While I’m still on earth… God has granted me another chance, a purpose, mission to become His voice when it comes to hopelessness.

*In my line of business… your height, looks, skin are big factors. If you put me next to who I’m with now—the iconic band, Journey— you’ll think “he doesn’t belong there.” Whoever has touched me or the hands/head of Neal Schon—- it must have been God convincing everybody that this is the guy that will do the job and spread inspiration… making me living proof that dreams really do come true.

This is my rock and roll moment with the authentic rock star. I call it my sayad-tambucho (sagging muffler) contribution to the song.

The body language shows his grace.

The crowd consisting of 4-year olds to teens to middle-aged to grandparents enjoyed his songs, many singing along with him.

Arnel Pineda is an awesome, amazing, altruistic person who by his humility and recognition of God as the Hand that has been moving in his life and the Giver of his talent is more than ten feet tall to me.  During the times when he looked like someone who in the world’s eyes had nothing— because he had God— Arnel actually had everything. With or without a human stamp, I know in Whose Hall of Fame his name belongs where he was chosen for the part before he could audition.

Several months ago, I attended a “David As An Artist” bible study under Ptr. Nomer Bernardino of an Artist’s Rise and Role, Challenges and Comforts, Achievements, Fall, Recovery, Sustained Greatness based on the life of King David who started out as a musician. That put in mind the seasons in an artist’s career. I pray for a very blessed career for the Philippines’s beloved Arnel Pineda for all the seasons of his career wherever God takes him, an immeasurably blessed family life for him and Cherry and all their children through all the seasons for their lives.

Dear Friend, if you’re in a season of desperation, frustration, or rejection, may Arnel’s story mightily encourage you. Your situation may not be financial because you might have every material thing you’ve ever wanted… it may be your health, relationship, grades, career, a traumatic event you’ve faced, failure, loss; you may feel alone in the crowd, helpless… but the same God of All who was with Arnel who in all things worked for his good, is the same God who is available to you. Every passing desperation, frustration, or rejection you may encounter will not be in vain; He will use them for your good.  He is for you and not against you. His plans are to prosper you and give you a hope and future no matter what your circumstances look like today. Don’t Stop Believing it!

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