Wednesday, March 15, 2006

MiG AyEsA : INXS true ("Filipino") WinNER


MiG Ayesa: A winner in his own right

"Was I disappointed? No. On the contrary, I was relieved."

MiG Ayesa was smiling widely – no, sir, there wasn’t any trace of bitterness in his face at all – when he said that, in answer to Funfare’s question on how he felt after he placed only third to Canadian JD Fortune in Rock Star: INXS, the recently-concluded three-month search (aired locally on Star World TV) for the lead singer of the famous Australian rock group to replace Michael Hutchence who died in l997.

"You know what," he continued, "I knew that winning that gig would really be great. But at the same time I realized that the competition was so fierce...All I wanted to do was hang in there till the end and be in the Final Three. Before the show started, I thought that just to be among the Top Five would be great. I never thought that I’d get into the finals. It was an extremely stressful competition so I felt relieved when it was over. I don’t think I’ll ever join a similar contest again."

MiG arrived early Monday morning on a PAL flight from Los Angeles and is going back Friday night. He came for the Ad Congress now going on in Cebu City and he’ll be back end of the month to participate in this year’s MTV Staying Alive Music Summit for AIDS/AIDS slated for Dec. 1, coinciding with World AIDS Day, at The Fort Open Field, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, Metro Manila.

Miguel Alfonso Ramon Legarda Ayesa was born on Jan. 12, l970 in the Philippines. Among his relatives is topnotch lawyer Katrina Legarda, MiG’s cousin. The Ayesas migrated to Australia when MiG was two years old.

Funfare sat with MiG at the MTV Studio at The Fort the other day after he shot a plug for the Music Summit. (Thanks to MTV exec Rod Nepomuceno for arranging the interview.)

Here are excerpts from the 20-minute one-on-one (which will also be seen on GMA 7’s Showbiz Stripped next Saturday, Nov. 26, starting at 11:30 after Hokus Pokus):

Why do you spell your nickname with a big M and a big G, with a small "i" in-between?

"Well, all my friends call me Mig, so I decided to just adopt that nickname instead of Miguel. However, using a small ‘g’ looks incomplete, so I decided to make it a big G. Also, I happen to be a plane buff and I just loved those MiG Soviet fighters. MiG stands for Mikoym Gurovich."

When was the last time you were here?

"Honestly, I spend a lot of time in the Philippines. Every Christmas, my grandfather would fly me over here to spend time with my cousins. I’ve been coming and going all my life. Most of my Christmases have been spent in Manila and Baguio."

You left the Philippines at an early age.

"I left when I was two years old; I grew up in Sydney. But I’ve been living in London for three years now, with my wife, Simone de la Rue (whom he married in 2002; they are childless). For the past four months, I’ve been working in L.A. – yes, on the Rock Star: INXS contest. And now, I’m in the Philippines. I don’t know anymore what country I am in."

So you’re in touch with your relatives, one of them lawyer Katrina Legarda, probably the best and the most well-known lady lawyer in the country today.

"She’s Superwoman! I’m very proud of my cousin Katrina."

So when was the last time you were in the Philippines?

"In January 2001. I haven’t been back since then."

Tell us more about Rock Star : INXS.

"I auditioned for Rock Star: INXS early this year. There were seven auditions all in all. There were auditions around the world – London, Manchester and Liverpool in England; all over the USA (New York, L.A., Chicago and Seattle); Australia; New Zealand; and even in Dubai."

Have you always been an INXS fan?

"Yeah, always been. Growing up in Sydney, I became attached to the INXS. I consider INXS music as the soundtrack of my youth. The first kiss I had with a girl was in a high school dance and the song that was playing was INXS’ I Send a Message. So I remember that song vividly."

Was that kiss torrid or tender?

"Oh, that was the most tender kiss you’ve ever seen. It did last for three hours, though."

Three hours!?! That should have made it to the Guinness Book of Records!

"Yeah, three hours. It was a very long kiss."

Were you chewing gum at that time so your lips must have, you know, stuck to each other?

"No, there was no room for chewing gum at that time."

Did you know that your Filipino fans were texting their votes for you on Rock Star: INXS?

"Oh yes, I appreciate that. I knew I had a lot of support from the Philippines and Australia. The producer of the show gave that information to me. He said, ‘I can’t tell you the exact figure but I can assure you that the Philippines loves you!’ That’s also one of the reasons why I came here – to show my face and to tell the Philippines that I’m proud to be a Filipino and to thank everybody for the support. It was overwhelming! It’s great to come home to the Philippines. I feel like a long-lost son being welcomed with open arms."

What do you remember most about the Philippines from your frequent visits?

"Oh, gosh! The food! But I do remember spending time with my cousins and Christmas shopping at Rustan’s and ShoeMart (SM). Spending time in Baguio, having fireworks on New Year’s Eve. I love the fresh smell of pine in Baguio. I spent a wonderful, wonderful childhood here."

Could you tell us more about your participation in the MTV Staying Alive Music Summit?

"The HIV/AIDS campaign is very dear to my heart. I knew several friends who died because of AIDS. I’ve been involved in shows that deal with it (AIDS). I was in a show called Brent which was staged in London’s West End."

Was Brent your first theater performance?

"No, it wasn’t. My first time on the West End was when I was 21. It was on a show called The Buddy Holly Story where I played Richie Valens (Played by Fil-Am actor Lou Diamond Philips. – RFL). I did it in Australia, produced by a London producer."

How many plays have you done so far?

"Three. The other play was called We Will Rock You where I played the lead role. I did that for two years. I left it to compete in Rock Star: INXS."

How long did the judging take place?

"Three months! It was like being in a job interview for three months. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, everything you said and everything you did and everything you wore and every thought you had was being judged. There were cameras everywhere, so you couldn’t relax. The only time you could relax was when you were in the toilet. It was stressful! We were judged not only during our performance onstage but how we conducted ourselves offstage. For three months, I averaged three to four hours of sleep every night. It was tough! It was harder than I had imagined. So I felt relieved when it was all over. I just wanted to return to my normal life again."

Of course, you didn’t end up empty-handed.

"Well, I got myself a recording deal with Universal Records in the US and we are busy with pre-production now."

Aren’t you doing any recording or a concert in the Philippines (aside from your MTV Staying Alive Music Summit appearance)?

"I plan to."

Aren’t you doing any Filipino song in your debut album?

"We’re still looking for songs for the album. Do you know any classic Filipino rock song?"

Are you familiar with any Filipino artist?

"I’m a big fan of Gary Valenciano and Martin Nievera. My cousin, Manuel Legarda, is a member of Wolfgang. In the future, maybe I can do a collaboration with Filipino artists."

Come to think of it, where do you think you went wrong in the Rock Star: INXS competition? Are you too wholesome to be a rock star?

"Possibly. That’s what they thought. But I tell you one thing: You think that rock is all about music; it should be all about music. Sometimes, people get confused when you get to live your life as a rocker. But I live the rock drama onstage; I don’t take it home with me. I’m actually very happy that I have a very stable life. I have a wife (who’s also into music and dance; born in England and grew up in Melbourne) that I’m in love with and we have a puppy. I think where I went wrong in Rock Star: INXS was the first time we had a chance to do an original song I did one called Do or Die. It was a heavy rock song, almost like a metal song. INXS said ‘It’s too heavy for us; we don’t think we can put it into our repertoire.’ The next time, I did a ballad, something light, called Home in Me which was very special to me. But I don’t think it was a very good choice."

Okay, how much of you is Filipino and how much is Australian?

"Biologically, I’m 100 percent Filipino. I’m a bit wholesome and that’s very Filipino, isn’t it? But, you know, I’m very proud to be an Australian as well. I love Sydney and once we have kids, I plan to move back to Sydney. We might have one in a couple of years, or sooner than that. I consider myself Filipino and Australian but I’m also a member of the Global Village."

FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo
The Philippine Star 11/17/2005

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