Last Saturday I had the honor of seeing the legendary rock band Journey perform. For those of you who do not know Journey recently added a new lead singer to their band, who sounds very much like a prime Steve Perry—the band's original iconic voice.
It is quite a Cinderella type of story for those of you who have not heard the Filipino Arnel Pineda. He was a struggling musician in the Philippines for several years as the lead singer of a Journey cover band.
Legendary lead guitar wizard Neal Schon came across Pineda singing Journey songs in his cover band the Zoo on YouTube. He contacted Arnel and asked him to audition to be Journey's new lead singer and the rest is history.
As remarkable as this story is Arnel just like the face of boxing's Manny Pacquiao. They are both from the Philippines and they both have inspiring rags to riches stories of overcoming utter poverty in their homeland.
Pineda, just like Pacquiao, grew up extremely poor in the slums of the Philippines. They both left their homes in their early teens to seek income to provide for their families.
Both lived on the streets and sold what ever he could to survive. According to Pineda's biography he was sleeping in public parks and benches and would collect bottles and other recyclables for money. Arnel often rationed a Marie biscuit as his meal for two days.
It is common knowledge to most that Pacquiao too lived on the streets living in a cardboard box and had to sell stolen cigarettes to eat as he struggled to pursue his boxing career.
Both of these stories have a lot in common—two inspiring Filipinos overcoming their extreme circumstances to become huge international superstars.
Then of course we know Manny Pacquiao is quite the Renaissance Man, also being a musician as well, singing his infamous renditions of "Sometimes When We Touch." Although most of us would pretty much unanimously agree we would rather see him entertain us by beating the living crap out of his opponents in a boxing ring, he is so good at what he does (fighting) that we accept him doing a number of almost ridiculous other endeavors such as politics, music and acting.
That pretty much sums up Arnel Pineda as well, he sings so good that millions of Journey fans young and old are just won over by his pure amazing talent alone.
When I was in the bathroom a group of 50-something-year-olds said Foreigner (another legendary band opening up for Journey that night) would be the best performance tonight unless this "new Filipino guy" can really channel that great original Journey sound.
Well the sold out Verizon Amphitheater crowd gave this "new Filipino guy" several standing ovations that night, and I must admit I was so utterly inspired that it was hard to hold back the tears.
In 2010 Arnel Pineda was invited by Manny to sing the Filipino national anthem for the Pacquiao-Clottey fight in Texas.
Just as Manny Pacquiao destroys his often much larger opponents in the ring right before my very eyes when I attend, I now have that same highly potent sensation of adrenaline whenever I go to a Journey rock concert, and it is even more so motivating to know just what both of these legends of our time went through to get to where they are at.
As cheesy or cliche as it may sound both of Pacquiao and Pineda are real life examples of why we should all be singing to ourselves: DON'T STOP BELIEVING.
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