The Australian Filipina is glad to share some excerpts of the interview by Radio Tagumpay of Australia's pride and joy, MiG Ayesa. Our very own Broadway, international music theatre and rock concerts superstar who has been based in New York for several years is in town to spend some time with his family.
It is lovely that MiG makes time to share an update of what he has been doing and to reconnect with his fans. In the interview, MiG shares his views on how the USA election was played out and its result, the COVID 19 situation and the Black Life Matters unrest. As an aside, this morning the world saw a sad and dark part in American history with Trump supporters storming and causing damage to the White House, let alone interrupting the proceedings of Congress.
On the brighter side, MiG shares his joy in being able to share his gift of music and helping towards good causes through doing online performances which defied the restrictions suffered by the world due to the pandemic.
The interview was undertaken by Radio Tagumpay presenters Violi Calvet and Criz Guze. It was recorded and transcribed courtesy of RT team member Andrew Russell. For your listening enjoyment while having a coffee or cuppa break, the links to the actual two-part interview in Tagalog and in English will be added will be added after the broadcast on January 11, 2021. We also share the video of his newly composed song Bigger, Better, Stronger
(UPDATE: LINKS TO THE INTERVIEW, NOW ADDED AT THE END OF THIS ARTICLE 11/1/2021)
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We are very fortunate to bring to you an update interview with one of Australia's favourite son who is a Broadway and international music theatre and rock concert superstar. Despite his stature and being busy, he has always made time for Radio Tagumpay.
Hi MiG, thanks so much again for obliging our request for this interview. The last time we spoke to you in Radio Tagumpay was last year, after the fundraising concert you did for NARRA.
Hello! Thank you! Kumusta ka Radio Tagumpay. Hello how are you? It's really nice to be here, so it's always nice to talk to you guys. You're so supportive of everything that I do be here and have a chance to speak with you.
VC: PLEASE SHARE WHAT PROCESS YOU FOLLOWED TO BE HERE IN SYDNEY
Oh, yes, well well, I'll tell you what, if you don't have to travel at the moment, don't travel because the process was really painful. I had to my flight was basically a one way flight where my ticket from New York to Sydney via Manila, via Papua New Guinea, via Cairns, via Brisbane.
And because my first port of entry into the into Australia was in Cairns. I had to spend two weeks in quarantine in Cairns. So it took me two weeks and two days to get here from New York City. I've got to say, being Filipino actually was the reason why I was able to make that trip, because it was the only flight that I could get in time from New York to Sydney. I had to travel via Manila and I would not have been allowed to have taken my flight or been in transit in Manila if it weren't for the fact that I was born there. I had to show my birth certificate.
Otherwise it would not have let me even be in transit there because of the restrictions of the pandemic. So, you know, it's it's been a very arduous task to get here. The process was painful, but, you know, at the point where I had to do it and there's no no other choice, I felt like because I'm here because I'm here for my parents, my father is not well and I'm here to just help my mum out and be here for my dad as much as I can be. It these moments that are very precious and very important to make these moments count.
So whatever it took to get here, I did it, but it's no pleasure.
PLEASE GIVE AN UPDATE ON WHAT INITIATIVES OR PROJECTS WERE YOU INVOLVED AFTER YOUR VISIT TO YOUR FAMILY HERE IN AUSTRALIA AND HELPING US OUT TO RAISE SOME FUNDS FOR NARRA AND ALSO RECONNECTING WITH YOUR LOCAL FANS.
Yeah. Well you know I was actually I've been at the beginning of 2020, I was actually very excited about the year I had all these gigs lined up, I had all these contracts and concerts lined up.
I was actually about to do a whole series of concerts with this group in the United States doing the music of Queen with the symphonic orchestras all around the United States; had all these contracts on ships that I was about to do. There was also talk of doing the music of Queen around here in Australia over the months of October, October, November, including the Coliseum, etc.
And then COVID came. And when COVID came, nothing else happened.
Of course, all my live gigs were cancelled. So I was stuck in a situation where I just had to work from home. I'm just very fortunate that the previous year I started working with this company called Songdivision. It is a it's a company that does these team building exercises for corporations using music to unite people around their purpose. And it was the kind of thing we would do these things and huge live events. We just turn up and we'd kind of be a rock band. It would open up a general session for a conference. And from that point on, we'd write a song with the company for the company about the company in real time.
Apart from that, I things that I've been working on, really stuff that I really enjoy, I really love doing is like connecting with people online. And we've been doing that with a lot of collaborations, a lot of these collaboration videos that you may see from the place. It all started actually with me very shortly into the run of this pandemic lockdown, I saw on the ground posts from Brian May from Queen to jam with hm.
And he said, hey, come on, it's not that bad. I want to play play with play with me. And he started to play in the fall and just let him in in his lounge room, just playing the guitar. And he says, come on, jam with me, sing with me.
So I took that as an invitation to really go into it 150 percent. So I put a piano track to that. I sang on backing vocals to it and my drum kit was just a kick and a clap really was just stomping on the ground with my foot and clapping, just kind of bare bones sound effects. And I posted this video with all these elements and posted that, well, that was the beginning of the year because people posted were going crazy with the fact that, oh, my gosh, I can't believe you're jamming with Brian May mate. So everyone started to kind of do their own versions of that. I had musicians who are friends of mine in the U.K. and in Spain who decided to let's do this full band version of it. So they got Brian's original video and then they put a whole band arrangement to it. They got me to sing on it.
That's been the year 2020. But having said that, I also have been doing a lot of projects as well that I've been really excited about. The most recent one was a I was working with this lady who runs a performing arts school called the Three Stages Studios in Long Island, in Bethpage, in New York.
And it was when the pandemic hit and she was very distraught and very distraught for her kids because the kids who were coming to her school were getting so anxious and so upset about what does this mean about the future and what does it mean about that? I understand the implications of the virus. I don't understand why it's doing anything. Why is it getting worse? These kids really wanted to to have their say, but they didn't know how to do it. So I have written a song that I did with them.
CG: MIG, PLEASE SHARE WITH THE LISTENERS YOUR VIEW ON THE USA ELECTION, HOW IT WAS PLAYED AND THE RESULT; THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE RESULT FOR USA AND THE WORLD
Well, you know, the thing about the elections is that you have to trust and, you know, go with the system. Right. I mean, the thing is, it was a system, that needs revision, the college electoral votes. I think that system is in some ways, it's a system that needs to be completely revamped. It doesn't really have much relevance to the present day. It was created at a time when, you know, the American wrote the Constitution, that the states were more divided, were more evenly spread out throughout the country, and that there was a reason why the Electoral College was created. But now it's not so much like that, I think really should come down to the fact that, like most countries, it should be a popular vote.
Those people with the most votes should be the winner of the of the result. I mean, that's as simple as that makes it less convoluted. You get the most votes, you win. Sometimes you just have to if you don't like the result, you just have to go, well, that's just the system and you have to accept it. I mean, the same thing happened for when when Hillary didn't win the the college votes in 2000. Sixteen, you know, after a couple of days, you know, when the results came in that she was, you know, that that Donald Trump was going to be the president, she just said, whatever it is, I accept it. And I move on like any grown adults would do.
This is going on now with like saying you cheated in those votes. And it just it's embarrassing. I want to say it's really embarrassing and very disappointing, really disappointing. And it makes me disillusioned about a lot of things that I just can't wait for January 20, January one to happen so we can just get rid of this and just get on with the more important things, actually.
VC: WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON HOW THE GOVERNMENT IS OR WAS HANDLING IT AND ANY PROMISES OF THINGS GOING TO GET BETTER THE WAY IT'S HANDLED?
I hate to point the finger too much at people, because there's not not many people could have predicted that this would have been as bad as it is, even the experts who have been stumped about how this virus just keeps on reforming itself and manifesting into something different. And it's a lot worse than we thought it was going to be. And so initially, of course, there is so little information about this that I don't want to be able to say you should have done something when, you know, there were so many things that they had no idea about. Having said that, there were some strategies in place that were not adhered to or that were not taken advantage of. They did have a playbook in the United States of pandemic playbook of like if something would happen to this degree, they would at least have some strategies in place. Yet when this was brought to the attention of the officials and the government authorities, it was it was ignored and it was told, you know, it's too expensive. I think the the head of the communicable disease as for 11 billion dollars to implement what needed to be done, and they were just shut down saying, no, we can't do it crazy. No, we're not going to give you 11 billion dollars.
Maybe we knew would not be in this situation and other countries that have dealt with this pandemic in the way that it should have been. Australia is a great example of how we're in, for example, like, you know, you can call here in New South Wales that they have a cluster. You know, they have a few cases of, you know, what is it, seven yesterday or I'm not even sure the the actual figures. But when it happens, like from here, the whole country shuts down in a way which is the way it really should, because you don't want the numbers to rise.
I mean, I live in New York City and at one stage we were once the epidemic centre of the world. I mean, we were the pandemic epicentre of death. It was horrible. But because in New York, we took it seriously, we realised this is we have to wear masks. We all wear masks. Everyone respected each other's distance. And it was a kind of thing. Well, even though it was not mandatory to wear masks, we weren't in lockdown. We did what we could to make sure that we were being safe and being sensible with the way that we reacted with each other.
CG: WHAT ARE YOUR OBSERVATIONS OF HOW THE FIL-AM COMMUNITY IS COPING WITH THE PANDEMIC; WHAT HAD BEEN THE IMPACT ON YOUR CAREER AND ACTIVITIES.
I spent a bit of time there in the in New York with a church community that did some fundraising for the Philippines. And but I was really a chance to really see how they were coping with things because in isolation, you don't really know what's been going on. I know what I'm doing. I know what my world is very small and the world was just me and from my laptop and computer, I don't I wasn't socializing with anybody. I was really wasn't really getting out of the apartment.
So as far as me dealing with the Filipino American community, the first time I actually got a chance to see how people were coping with these things was when I went to that that church community in Queens and had a look at what they were doing and they were taking it very seriously. They're being very cautious with the pandemic. At the same time, they weren't also letting it stop what they were doing. They're just being very careful about what they were doing. So it's fantastic the resilience in them.. I mean, the Filipinos greatest exports are the frontline workers and first responders. A lot of them are Filipinos. And so these brave people are on the front line risking their lives at the same time.
VC - YOU MAY HAVE FRIENDS WHOSE HEALTH HAD BEEN DIRECTLY AFFECTED AND POSSIBLY PERISHED, SO OUR SINCERE COMMISERATION OR POSSIBLY CONDOLENCE TO YOU AND THE FAMILY. WHAT ASSISTANCE HAD BEEN GIVEN TO THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES?
Yes, the thing is, I'm not really sure how it was, you know, these people were were treated or I feel very I mean, for me that's the biggest heartbreak for me. The fact that, you know, people are dealing with this pandemic and have to say goodbye to their loved ones, the fact that they the restrictions on visiting people in hospital, the restrictions of of being with their loved ones, giving them solace in their, you know, in the last few hours, I mean, that's for me the biggest tragedy about this whole thing. I know that people are doing everything in their power to service their families and give them the comfort they need. I know there are certain groups - the Salvation Army and the Red Cross are doing all they can to to soften the blow of this. But at the end of the day, the tragedy is it's still there because what they want in their final hours or where they served their loved ones are sick is to have the comfort of their families.
Like my father was recently in hospital and he went through a very bad period. There's a time we thought we were going to lose him. And my mother was only allowed to have one hour visit and he was only allowed when our one visitor per day the rest of the time, even on his birthday call, when the man and his birthday, he was there by himself in the hospital bed. The best way is to serve these people and to serve families is by suffering and getting rid of this pandemic and taking care of yourself. And the only way we can do it is to practice social distancing and and stop the spread of the virus, because that's then the more you know when that happens, then these restrictions of meeting your loved ones are being with loved ones. They need to give more chance for our families to be together or to be at least feeling as though they're doing something for their loved one who is sick.
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*CG - welcome to Part 2. In this part of our interview MiG, the other issue in the USA that the world has witnessed occurred and also touched the other countries. And this is the "Black Life Matters". WHAT IS YOUR VIEW OF THE UNREST THAT FOLLOWED THE DEMISE OF GEOGE FLOYD AND ERIC GARNER AND OTHERS IN THE HANDS OF THE POLICE?
Well, now, the thing is the timing. I guess you can say that in two ways, two ways of thinking about this, that there's no doubt that the timing could not have been worse and also the timing could not have been better. Depends on how you look at it. But at the moment, the you know, because of the pandemic to be to be rallying in times together and risking the chance of being of spreading the disease at the moment is probably the best idea. However, I do understand the frustration. I do understand exactly what it's all about. I do understand that there is some systemic racism in the United States and in fact, in a lot of countries is this exists. And so I'm not surprised that this Black Lives Matter has been adopted by countries outside of the United States, because, you know, it's about time that this injustice injustices stop and it's time to have a look at these because we're all suffering. I think that's the whole point.
I mean that I think why it's all happening now is coming to a head is because we're all suffering. And it's like we've got so much going on right now. Saying we need to worry about is being unfairly treated by those people who are there to protect us as opposed to not make things worse. I think the frustration came from that. And I think, you know, George Floyd, seeing that on television affected us all. And I think that was just the last straw for some people. And I had so unfortunate that in these black life matters protests, you know, that there are those individuals who took this upon themselves as an opportunity to create mischief and to describe for their own to own their own advantage.
The movement is very noble, very beautiful in some ways. I mean, Black Lives Matter. I mean, really, it's almost like it's almost an understatement. Black lives matter. Black lives are important. Black lives are precious. Not just matter. I mean, it's just almost like the basic line of like but, you know, to mix that up with people who are then using these opportunities to loot and damage and create trouble, it's just very sad.
*VC - IN YOUR VIEW, HOW WELL OR OTHERWISE THE WHITE HOUSE AND THE OTHER GOVERNMENT UNITS HANDLED THE UNREST?
Well, again, I think there is so much better ways of dealing with it and because of the way that, these protests have ended up in violence from looting and such. But sometimes it was prompted by the way by the way, that the police had dealt with the crowds; well, there was a tension all over. That's the problem. When you have that much tension in the air, anything can spark off some violence in the wrong direction, but also that the way that the police handled these protests, which were in the vast majority were peaceful and protests that that need to be need to be told. These people need to be heard. It's the United States which is a democratic society, supposed to be the greatest democracy in the world. And if you cannot even have a chance to voice your opinion in the greatest democracy in the world and are beaten down with water cannons and tear gas, then I think we're all doomed.
So I think the way that it was treated was a huge embarrassment to the Trump administration. It was a travesty but I don't blame the police so much so in that regard, because they themselves were under a lot of pressure and there were people in there who were also not there for the right reasons. And so there was a lot of confusion. And in those situations, there's a lot of it's a tinderbox ready to explode.
*CG - What needs to be in place to address the great divide and promote more harmonious relations between the 'blacks' and the mainstream Americans?
I think the Black Lives movement has been is heading and pointing in the right direction. At least it's just a chance for, you know, black Americans and white Americans and Asian-Americans and, you know, Arab Americans. It's just to realize that we're all Americans. They're all Americans. I'm not an American citizen yet. I'm still felicie with a green card. But, you know, living in the United States, we're all living in the same country. We're all working towards one goal.
And I think I think what this pandemic has done in a sideline way, as horrible as it is, it's made humanity work together as a team. And I think this has been something I think we need to focus on that no matter if you're black or white or yellow or red or green or blue, this virus will affect you.
And so I think in a way that if we work towards getting this thing done, I think we I think that will definitely help heal some of these tensions. But at the same time, we we really need to have a look at the way that, you know, if you are if you do something that is considered a crime, whether it be, you know, you're either black or white, you have to deal with the consequences, whether you're a police officer or your opinion.
And I think that's the basic thing, whether you're a policeman or not. If you do something that should not do or should not be doing, then you should have to answer for it. When other black policemen or civilian. Yeah.
*VC - ON THE HOMEFRONT IN AUSTRALIA, WHAT IS YOUR VIEW REGARDING THE CONCERNS RAISED REGARDING DEATHS OF BLACK PEOPLE WHILE IN CUSTODY?
Again, this is not an issue that's just happened recently. This is something that's this is a situation that's been happening for as long as I can remember. Even when I was in high school, I was taught in the university I was studying. These cases were of, how there's so many more deaths of black people in custody in Australia than whites. And it's the same in the United States and it's the same in so many countries around the world. And it is a product, I guess, of of maybe we don't understand the situation. Like, for example, I think there's a huge sense of depression that takes over the native Australian community, when they find there's no there's no way out or they find themselves, there's no upward mobility, there's no way of getting past what they are. You know, there's unfortunately alcoholism is played a part in this. There's a whole series of of social factors that contribute to why they're you know, they end up in the situation that they're in. And for, you know, for I think for a lot of Native Australians, they find themselves feeling that there's no way out or there's no way out of this and that this is is always going to be like this.
And I think the way that we need to to help them is to show that there is hope to show that there are ways of getting out of this situation that they're in, that it's not hopeless. And, you know, I think that's why, you know, when we celebrate Aboriginal or native Australian heroes, it's so important to do that because these heroes have risen above their circumstance and have made something really special. And I think we celebrate those people, not for ourselves of Australians, but I think for us to show our Native Australians that they are as capable as anybody in Australia to get out of the situation that they're in. And I think there is some sense of systemic racism to a point in Australia. And we do have to look at that. I think that's something that we just have to be aware of and know that it does exist to some degree.
*CG - WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE AND MESSAGE TO THE FIL-AM AND THE FIL-OZ COMMUNITIES REGARDING THEIR ROLE IN HELPING TO PREVENT THE COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION OF THE VIRUS.
I know the Filipinos love a celebration whether you're in America or in Australia. They love to get together and they love to eat and love to share their adobo and and pancit and you know, halo halo. Halo halo is probably the word we should never use at the moment ie "mix mix" Don't mix mix.
I think thank goodness that at the moment we actually have this the technology that allows us to stay in contact and stay in contact safely, virtually as hard and sometimes boring as it is to always say in front of a computer, we have that availability. And so I know this is not forever. This is something that will pass.
*CG - ON A LIGHTER NOTE, PLEASE GIVE YOUR NEW YEAR'S MESSAGE TO OUR LISTENERS AND YOUR FANS HERE IN AUSTRALIA.
Well, all I can say is that we will get through this.We are going to become bigger and better and stronger. From what we've learnt in the past. We have still a way to go. This is not over yet, but together we do the right thing and listen to the people who we need to listen to the experts. They're here to help us. This is not a conspiracy. This is a real issue that we all have to be responsible for. We are responsible for our own actions. In that case, we are taking care of the community. It's about being selfless. Of course, we really great to go out and enjoy yourself and socialise. But that's not it's not about you anymore. It's about your parents, about those people who do not have the resilience of this disease. It's about taking care of each other. That's what it's about.
Wonderful MiG. Maraming salamat. Thanks for the heartfelt message to our listeners and your sharina based on your personal observations and your firsthand experience. Thank you for always making time for us.
Thank you very much. I appreciate that. And to you also to everybody that I know, this is we're all going through a really hard time right now. But I promise you, this will pass. Just hang in there. Wonderful.
Oh, wait, wait, wait, wait. Hang on, guys, I just want to say before I go, I just wanted to talk to you about I just finished doing the song and this video for this group of kids in Long Island in New York with talented teachers Laurie and Davis and their kids. This amazing song, it's called Bigger, Better, Stronger, and it's about the fact that we are going to get through this and we're going to be better because of it. And it gives us a song of hope for the kids, especially because it gives them something to look forward to.
So I'd love you guys to play it. And I hope you guys enjoy. The song is called Bigger, Better, Stronger.
-end of Part 2 -
Links to the actuall interview of MiG Ayesa aired on January 11, 2021:
Radio Tagumpay - January 11, 2021 - Interview of MiG Ayesa - Part 1 by VioliCalvert | Mixcloud
Radio Tagumpay - January 11, 2021 - Interview of MiG Ayesa - Part 2 by VioliCalvert | Mixcloud