I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

Wrong on so many levels

Like everyone else, I was really stoked to find out that Charice Pempengco, that little girl with the big growling voice, was going to sing at one of the pre-inaugural balls for the new American President.

At least I was until I found out what she was going to sing.

The kid is singing God Bless America. Now that is just so wrong on so many levels.

God Bless America, 
Land that I love. 
Stand beside her, and guide her 
Thru the night with a light from above. 
From the mountains, to the prairies, 
To the oceans, white with foam 
God bless America, My home sweet home.

While we must of course avoid being too literal minded about songs and such, the fact remains that this is not an ordinary song. As far as anthems go, God Bless America is right up there with the Star-Spangled Banner and Hail to the Chief. 

It’s a song that is so steeped in American tradition and sentiment that, one would think, it is a song that only an American should sing. Or a foreigner wanting to become an American.

After all, what is she supposed to sing? God Bless America, land that you love,  your home sweet home?



Filed under: fandom, Filipino, pop-culture, society, vacuity, , , ,

45 Responses

  1. Oo nga ano. I completely agree with you!

  2. UP n grad says:

    She is a performer; At the right price, her agent will even convince her to sing ‘Oh Danny Boy” while balancing a dozen made-in-China plates during half-time at a Lakers-versus-Knicks game.

  3. Jeg says:

    I for one would gladly give her and her talents to the Unites States of America. Take her, Uncle Sam. She’s all yours with our compliments.

  4. BrianB says:

    Not really. I sang Star Spangled in the shower as a kid.

  5. cvj says:

    Lighten up Rom.

  6. rom says:

    cvj: funny advice, coming from you uncle. 😀

  7. Hey if Whitney can sing Lupang Hinrang why not. hehe. Please share this.

  8. rom says:

    israel: welcome to the smoking room! Consider your link shared. 😀

    Err … did Whitney really sing Lupang Hinirang?

  9. UP n grad says:

    The USA will gladly take Leah Salonga!!

    Actually, Charice Pempengco, too. Charice projected income flow (and the accompanying income-taxes) will pay for some of the consulting dollars that the US State Department paid to the Peace Institute and for the social security benefits that Abe Margallo has started to collect.

  10. Bencard says:

    i’m sure charise is on her way to becoming a u.s. citizen. why not? she could not even win a second-rate t.v. singing contest in pinas. what charise has accomplished, the likes of kuh, regine, za za or pops can only dream of. u.s. is where the real talents of the world usually go – think of einstein, von werner,barishnikov, caruso, garbo, comaneci, and yoyo ma, to name just a few.

  11. osuna says:


    you are a crab,

  12. rom says:

    osuna: welcome to the smoking room.

    hahaha! i suppose you mean I want to pull charice down? LOL! what? a person can’t complain about the repertoire anymore? 😀

  13. OneTamad says:

    I agree with you.
    It’s like Whitney Houston singing “Ako ay Pilipino” (and probably mangling it.)
    It’s more than just a song, it’s a statement, no matter how unintended.

    But then again, don’t we all sing this in some form or another?

    Osuna meant that you are a decapod crustacean. He is of a literal mind.

  14. Jeg says:

    u.s. is where the real talents of the world usually go – think of einstein, von werner,barishnikov, caruso, garbo, comaneci, and yoyo ma, to name just a few.

    Haha. Manoy, for a minute there I thought you were going to add ‘… and Bencard.’

  15. ma. lorahdel says:

    i cant see anything bad on singing about the song of America..maybe a a little Filipina can only do that..GO GIRL

  16. TCfromVA says:

    Filipinos were serving in the US Armed Forces and they’re not even US citizens back then and guess what they sang the Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, and America the Beautiful, and even recite the Pledge of Allegiance… what’s wrong with one non-US citizen artist singing God Bless America? What about those musicians playing Hail to the Chief and the Star Spangle Banner for the visiting US President to their country….you’re just full of envy that you don’t know what to do.

  17. victor m vinas says:

    this is exactly the same sentiment thrown at celine dion when she sang the same song at the atlanta olympics…CANADIAN PO SI CELINE…but if the AMERICANS don’t mind giving that singing honor to foreigners, why raise a brow?

    This has been the cliche line for charice but i will repeat it…GO GIRL, GO CHARICE!

  18. rom says:

    TCfromVA and victor: welcome to the smoking room, the two of you.

    TC: yeah, man. they were serving in the US Armed Forces. Don’t you think that makes ’em different from Charice even just a wee bit? hahaha. 😀 As for musicians playing songs for visiting presidents, that’s called hospitality. Again, isn’t that just a wee bit different from the situation Charice finds herself in?

    And why is it that whenever someone criticizes someone else, it’s always ascribed to envy? LOL? MAybe I should do that too, and accuse of being envious of me for having an independent opinion, eh? 😀

    Victor: Face it. Having a foreign national sing God Bless America sends the subtle message that the rest of the world loves america, and wishes to be american. Would Americans complain about that? Read your history, fellas. Songs are very popwerful instruments of hegemony.

    Every Filipino is right to be proud of Charice – yeah, go charice and all that – but then does that mean her repertoire can’t be criticized?

  19. Jeg says:

    I also proclaim ‘Go, Charice’ but in a slightly different context. 😀

    But I plead de gustibus non est disputandum. I just dont like her singing style, that’s all. Im sure many people do. Nothing even remotely political about my opinion about the kid.

    Oo nga, rom. Youre full of envy! Harumph!

  20. […] girl with the big voice who sang god bless america, susmaryosep, at some pre-inaugural show.  read wrong on so many levels, my thoughts exactly.  but i don’t blame young charice, who may indeed be wanting a green […]

  21. Bencard says:

    it looks like most, if not all, of the filipinos who have gained international acclaim in various fields came from simple, humble background, if not actual poverty, e.g., pacqiao, elorde, pineda, charise, rather than from the elite, educated, moneyed, or well-connected class. the rich and powerful in pinoy society come and go, hardly earning recognition in world circles.

  22. mayumi says:


    Charice Pempengco was invited to perform at the Realizing the Dream Fourth Annual King Day Commemoration & 2nd Annual Realizing the Dream Award Celebration. The event date was Jan. 18, at Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill and was hosted by Martin Luther King III.

    It was not a pre-inaugural celebration of President Barak Obama, it was not even televised, and it was a private reception. And President B. Obama was unable to attend the reception.

  23. flipmodej says:

    I dunno. What if she read about the history of the song she would go about (or at this point did) to sing? Or give a little speech about how its a huge honor for someone like her to sing a very valuable song?

    I’m not one to putdown, but I think she’s in a phase where she’s in demand due to her publicity and everyone around the world wants a round. Kinda like RIck Astley except he has a meme and everyone desperately wanted him due to that, but wouldn’t give in as easily.

  24. rom says:

    mayumi: welcome to the smoking room. thanks for the clarification. i hope you also checked the link i provided to see where I got the info. straight from the pony’s mouth, as it were … but then we are prone to exaggeration, aren’t we? 😀

  25. cesann says:

    Hey guys go visit the There’s an interesting article about Charice singing at two inaugural venues (there are at least 200 Inaugural Parties in and around DC and the US). Obviously, the Americans didn’t have any problem of her singing God Bless America. I wonder why.

  26. rom says:

    cesann: welcome to the smoking room. Of course the americans won’t have a problem. they’re not filipinos, and it’s god bless AMERICA. c’mon …

  27. cesann says:

    ROM, I don’t understand your response. If the host wanted her to sing those two songs why are the uninvited guests complaining.

    And this is a response to Mayumi. Only the pre-inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial was televised and not the other pre-inaugural balls (must be dozens of those balls/parties). Charice was invited to two of those balls/parties and not including the one at the Phil Embassy (she volunteered to do that for the staffs and their guests) So what’s your beef Mayumi.

  28. cesann says:

    ROM, I don’t understand your response. If the host wanted her to sing those two songs why are the uninvited guests complaining. And this is a response to Mayumi. Only the pre-inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial was televised and not the other pre-inaugural balls (must be dozens of those balls/parties). Charice was invited to two of those balls/parties and not including the one at the Phil Embassy (she volunteered to do that for the staffs and their guests) So what’s your beef Mayumi.

  29. rom says:

    cesann: I’m complaining because i think it was an inappropriate song choice – one that seems calculated to send a subtle message that foreigners love america. sure she was asked to sing that, but she – or whoever is handling her – could’ve said no, or asked to sing a different song. It really is a question of cultural sensitivity, cesann. nothing more – but certainly nothing less.

  30. Chris says:

    Hey, it’s me again, your friendly “pal”.
    Nothing wrong about her singing God Bless. I just akin that to Borat singing Kazakhstan’s anthem to the tune of Star-Spangled or to Quentin Tarantino’s awkward wearing of barong during the Emmy’s announcement of nominees. It’s just a novelty thing really. Maybe she was requested to sing that to keep up to Obama’s global presidency.

    @Bencard: Monique Lhuiller
    @people who wants Charice to go away: I just bought the dvd /cd of David Foster and friends. She was awesome. I think she’s going to be around for a very long time.

  31. cesann says:

    ROM….you’re still wrong on so many levels. I don’t know if you’re here in the US or outside of this greatest country in the world, but I tell you if you or your family are given a free no string attached visa to come to this country and will have choice of whether to stay or permanently reside here I bet you my bottom dollar that you and your family will take that offer so does everyone else given that chance. In other words they might say they hate or don’t like this country but given the chance they will come here and stay here. And I don’t know what you do as far as work but obviously you’re not in the entertainment world. Charice hasn’t attained that super stardom status so for her to decline a big opportunity like singing at a pre-inaugural ball (one of so many) would have been suicidal. Declining an offer like that will be snubbish and that will be the end of her would be career here in the US. She might as well hang it up and just stay in your country to sing to your countrymen.

  32. rom says:

    cesann: you’re either an american or someone who has shed her filipino citizenship in order to become american.

    i am not in the states, but I visit. I have relatives there. And yes, the US is a land of opportunity. I don’t hate it, but I have turned my back on numerous opportunities to live and work there. Not all foreign nationals – even if they come from the third world – are willing to worship at the altar of empire.

    No, I am not in the entertainment world, but that doesn’t make me stupid. I know that Charice would have immediately fallen from favor if she hadn’t done as she was told. Just like a dancing bear would prolly be shot the minute it refused to dance. Think about that for awhile, will you?

    As for the notion of having a career in the US outweighing all possible considerations – well, that’s a fair enough assertion. In fact, some of the people who have reacted to this post have echoed my sentiment that Charice should prolly just go for an american citizenship while she’s at it. Better for her professionally.

    And as for her staying in my country, and singing to my countrymen, I don’t have a whit of disdain for that outcome, although disdain is apparently all you have for it. As I said, it’s all about cultural sensitivity.

    If you don’t get that, then you should have a pretty good idea why Americans are none too popular nowadays.

  33. mary says:

    It had to take someone from the US to invite Charice to sing their “sacred” song for us Filipinos to take notice.

    Charice sings Filipino songs too – I’m just wondering (and surprised as well) why no one from the Philippines invited her to sing the Philippine National Anthem and broadcast it nationwide.

    as for singing “God Bless America,” I do believe it was because of her voice that got her the part, and not for any “patriotic” reasons. Americans looove talent and that’s all there is to it. C’mon, Yo-Yo Ma gets invited to play that too – he’s not an American either.

    She can sing France’s National Anthem for all I care, and I’d be happy for her!

  34. 24o9racky says:

    so what ‘s wrong a youg girl filipina sings the 2nd national anthem of america?onthe other hand she did not presented herself to sing that. shehas been invited to sing. mind you all strangers who became u.s. citizen in america. did you or not forced to sing the american national anthem? charice has been asked , and this is because of the power of the voice she has.why just you guyscan’t be so PROUD that a girl like charice could do that for us. CHARICE JUST GOOOO GIRLLL

  35. LoloRoland says:

    The title of this column, “Wrong on so many levels”, is also a wrong title. There are only 2 lines that borders on allegation that this song must and should be sang by an American, the 2nd and the last line. This was a song resurrected by Irving Berlin (composed in 1918) when the winds of war roared across Europe and threatening to spill overseas, to the Americas. This song was actually a prayer for deliverance as American politics were against entering the war, thus God was Berlin’s recourse to save the land from invaders.
    It is not Charice fault if Americans themselves requested this song to be sang. Music knows no barriers and it has no nationality. A song has a soul that connects with the audience if arranged and interpreted correctly. A Canadian arranger and a Filipino singer conspired to extract what could be a telling message that brought out tears and thunderous ovation to the listening crowd.
    The USA is where Charice talent took root so it is apt for Charice to love this land, thus the second line of the song. And the last line is for her dream to becoming an immigrant as most Americans, including the forefather of the writer, I guess. Take heart……..

  36. Juan DelaCruz says:

    Who the fuck posted this garbage?

    I think this guy/girl is just trying to be funny.

    OK! We got the joke…


    Freaking moron…

  37. Juan DelaCruz says:


    Don’t even try explaining your logic to that ass.

    He/she obviously already made up his/her mind that his/her trash will rip. It’s just a complete and total waste of time to argue with somebody who’s IQ is less than 90.

    His/her rhetoric is baseless, and should only be treated as a nuisance crap…

  38. rom says:

    LoloRoland: the USA is not where Charice’s talent took root; and yes, I recognize that she would be far better off as an american citizen. but see the thing is, not every flipino wants to become an american.

    Juan dela Cruz: I posted this. What of it? You don’t like what I wrote, you can always find something else to read.

    The two of you, welcome to the smoking room!

  39. ksafan0 says:

    People with crab mentality. You mean Celine Dion should’nt have sung it or you guys are dumb innocent.

  40. […] over the idea of Charice Pempengco singing “God Bless America”. Smoke got it right, wrong on so many levels was exactly what this […]

  41. Multizony says:

    Hey Rom. She was invited to sing at Barack’s inaugural. Barack as in the president of the United States of America. What’s she supposed to sing, “Leron Leron Sinta”? How can it be wrong at any level when she was invited. She did not seek the job, Rom. She was invited as in “she was asked”. Get the picture, Rom?

    In retrospect, the whole thing turned out brilliantly. The audience (Americans) loved her performance and it’s coming down the annals as one of the best renditions of the song in history. IN HISTORY!, Rom.

    Only one thing left to do, Rom. Apologize Rom. Be a man and admit you are wrong. Are you a man Rom?

  42. rom says:

    Hey Multizony.

    She was invited, sure. But did they point a gun at her head so she didn’t have any choice but to accept? If she had wanted to, she cold have politely declined. America, after all, is supposed to be a land where you can make a stand for your principles and be respected for it, isn’t it? She couldn’t have done that? Do you get the picture?

    It doesn’t matter how brilliantly it turned out, Multizony, unless of course you believe that the ends justify the means. Which I don’t.

    Btw, I’m not a man. If you were half as smart as you’re trying to sound, you’d have figured that out right away. LOL!

  43. Multizony says:

    I don’t get your logic Rom. You said, “If she had wanted to, she could politely declined.” Your assuming or rather wishing she wanted to decline. What’s a good reason for declining, Rom? What principle would she be fighting for by declining to accept the invite?

    It’s becoming increasingly clear there’s no getting through your thick skull. You started with a hopelessly wrong premise and of course you are only too willing to dig yourself into a deeper shit hole to defend your stupid self. You know in your heart you’re wrong but like selfish, stupid fools before you, you refuse to just apologize, admit you were wrong and move on.

    I pity you Rom, you would put on the shoulders of a 17-year old Filipina what you could not accomplish yourself. You have no shame and you deserve my full contempt.

  44. rom says:

    Are you being intentionally dense Multizony? I’m not assuming anything other than that she had the freedom to go one way or the other. And neither am I arguing about the wisdom of either course of action. In fact, I said somewhere else that for a girl in her position, playing toady is prolly the best option.

    Still, there would some who would call that selling out. Now Charice and her mom can go entertain empire all they want. But see, that’s their choice, right? And if they have every right to make that choice regardless of what people like me think, then I am under no obligation to applaud them for it either.

    As for your sympathy, keep it. You’ll need it for yourself when you realize that you’ve only been playing sycophant for someone with true talent, rather than finding your own way.

  45. Yes, I agree with this post completely. Maybe she could have sung “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. 🙂

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