daughter vies for fame in US
The Philippine Star 02/27/2004
young girl of Filipino ancestry is set to go all the way to becoming
an American idol.
A Filipino sailor in the United States Navys amphibious command
and control ship USS Blue Ridge watched his daughter perform and advance
to the elite group of 12 finalists on the talent search "American
Idol" on Feb. 18 with his crewmates cheering her on wildly.
Machinists Mate 1st Class (SW) William Velasco, assigned to the
ships engineering department, found out that his 18-year-old daughter,
Camile, would appear on FOX Networks popular talent search program
as one of 32 finalists on the shows Feb. 17 telecast.
Upon learning of his daughters success,
Velasco said, "I was real happy for her. I was excited to see her.
I didnt know what to expect." "I never told anyone that
my daughter was going to be on American Idol until they
put it on the night engineering orders and everyone came to congratulate
me on my daughters success," the 43-year-old Velasco said.
Camiles singing career began when she was 16, though she has been
singing and playing the piano since she was a little girl. Her first
performances were at Philippine community centers in Hawaii. He said
Camile has always been musically inclined, singing and learning to play
the piano since she was five years old. Camiles sister is also
a musician, a talent they must have inherited from their mother, Velasco
said. "I dont sing myself," he muses. After he and the
girls mother divorced, Velasco spent 10 years as a single father
stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
While single-parenthood was "tough" for Velasco, his mother
lived with him and helped him out. The girls also spent time with their
mother, Rennie West. When Velasco was assigned to Yokosuka, Camile decided
to stay in Hawaii with her mother, he said. Camile works as a waitress
at the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) in Haiku on the island
Hawaii and has ambitions of being a famous singer. She also sang and
played the piano occasionally at hotels.
She had the opportunity of a lifetime to
boost her singing career on "American Idol." The winner from
each season gets a recording contract. "American Idol
came to Hawaii and she participated in the tryouts," said Velasco,
a native of the windswept northern Philippine island of Batanes.
Camile did not tell her father she was auditioning for the show but,
after she was picked to perform, she e-mailed the good news to him.
They talked on the phone before the Blue Ridge left port last month.
Velasco waited nervously on the mess decks for his
daughter to make her appearance. He sat quietly by himself as the sailors
gathered around him erupted in loud applause when Camile appeared onscreen
to perform Brian McKnights "One Last Cry."
This was the first time Velasco had seen his daughter sing, he said,
adding that "I have not had a chance to see her perform yet and
I am very excited to see how she will do on the show. My daughter enjoys
singing hip-hop and R&B (rhythm and blues) songs. She also
loves to perform in front of a crowd." Sweeping the votes - this
may have been Camiles first
television appearance, but she swept up 27.8 percent of the votes (2.7
million votes) sent by text messaging and by telephone calls from all
over the US for a place at the top of the competition - a win predicted
by the contests judges, pop diva and choreographer Paula Abdul,
"American Idol" producer Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson. The
shows host, Ryan Seacrest, announced Camiles victory Wednesday
night and Camile was stunned at the
news. "Im so... Im just overwhelmed. Im excited,"
she told Seacrest. At his request, she again took up the microphone
to do an encore of her winning performance.
Velasco said his daughters goal is to attend a music college in
Sacramento, California, but he also admits that she wants to be a famous
singer. "I will always support her, no matter what career choice
she chooses," he said. After Camiles performance, the sailors
of the USS Blue Ridge let out bellowing cheers on the mess decks as
they congratulated Velasco.
Camiles proud stepfather, James West, said that after Camiles
win, "I got phones ringing off the hook thats my reaction."
West bought a satellite dish to hook up to his television once Camile
had cleared the initial
auditions on "American Idol" and made the cut for a place
among the shows 32 finalists. Camile performed in the second group
of eight appearing on the show. West extended a "giant thank you
to the people of Maui and Hawaii for their support ... Obviously it
not have happened without the wonderful no ka oi (community) spirit
of the people here."
IHOP manager Josie Segundo said Wednesday that "we already knew
last night she was going to win."
Selling Hotter Than Hotcakes - Ever since Camiles first TV appearance,
Segundo said, the restaurant has received countless calls and visits
from people all over Maui. "Theyre asking about (Camile),"
she said. Upon her return to Maui Saturday, Camile was greeted by a
throng of friends, family and fans and, according to her, she felt "off
the hook" as she teetered under the weight of several leis. "I
feel like Ive gone all the way already, especially coming back
to all this," she said. However, she cant wait to return
to Los Angeles. "Not too long ago, I was walking around and people
would keep on walking. Now they recognize this face."
West felt that Camiles modest attitude set her apart from the
rest of the contestants, saying that despite her victory, Camile is
"still the humble local girl. A month ago, shes a waitress
at IHOP and now shes getting all this adulation."
Before making the cut on "American Idol," Camile often sang
at IHOPs kitchen upon the behest of the other restaurant staff
and the customers would ask if the songs they were hearing were
from a new audio CD. Camile performed at IHOP Sunday and has developed
strong following of fans - most of whom showed up for breakfast.
Rennie said her daughter has yet to get accustomed to fame, saying she
is "still really shy." Rennie said both she and her husband
are brimming with pride over Camiles success.
The people of Maui have shown their pride over Camiles achievement
with gifts such as flowers and a limousine ride. Someone even mowed
the lawn for Camile and her family.