In Woodside, live music thrives, makes Filipinos happy despite what’s happening in the world

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Joy Pascua belting a number. ‘Just a hobby.’ Photo by Mariel Padilla

Joy Pascua belting a number. ‘Just a hobby.’ Photo by Mariel Padilla

By Mariel Padilla

Eyes closed and microphone held to her lips, Joy Pascua belted out the last few words to the 1993 hit “Linger” during her sound check as the keyboardist, guitarist, drummer and bassist got in place behind her.

Pascua, a middle-aged Filipina performer, sang alongside Arianne Aldecoa in Woodside, Queens, on a rainy Saturday night at a Filipino restaurant called Promdi, located at 69-16 Roosevelt Ave. Promdi is one of several Filipino restaurants that offer live music and karaoke nearly every night of the week.

Waiters in t-shirts and baseball hats walked back and forth down the single aisle between tables with plates of noodles, fish, fried pork and roasted nuts.

“It’s hard to schlep it out here in Queens,” Pascua said, “but Filipinos out here are active and supportive because it reminds them of home.”

The musicians stood in the small area between the kitchen and the tables. About 75 people watched the performance while eating Filipino food, drinking beers and occasionally shouting requests.

Though performing as a solo artist on Saturday, Pascua is typically one of three lead singers in a local Filipino cover band: the FilHarmonic Band. According to Pascua, however, she is more of a “hobbyist” because she has a day job doing online marketing for the Actors Fund.

Pascua and Aldecoa alternated songs, singing dated Top 40 covers and Filipino songs, ranging from Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” to Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love for You.”

The walls vibrated with the speakers’ reverberation. During Aldecoa’s rendition of “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” a man stood up yelling “key change!” Another man, after finishing his beer, stood up to dance as his friends laughed and took pictures.

Arianne Aldecoa singing a Top 40 cover

Arianne Aldecoa singing a Top 40 cover

In between sets, Pascua and Aldecoa slipped in and out of Tagalog as they bantered with the audience. This was the second time that the two performed together, Aldecoa said.

A bouncer stood at the door, monitoring who came in and out of the building. The cover charge to enter was $10 per person.

“Everybody wants to do best practices and comply and make sure we’re not breaking any rules,” Pascua said.

Pascua noticed subtle differences in the community since the recent changes in presidential administrations, both in America and in the Philippines.

“It’s just people are more careful now,” Pascua said. “Filipinos, I think, like to just survive and not ruffle any feathers.”

Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, is a controversial figure due to his unconventional war on drugs and contentious political statements. Earlier this summer, an openly pro-Duterte Filipino restaurant in the area, Payag, closed down abruptly.

“The Filipino community is more conscious now of how they behave and how they conduct their affairs in public,” Pascua said in reference to the closing.

And yet, the Filipino band culture in Woodside is still thriving. Promdi has live music and karaoke scheduled every night of the week. Similar Woodside venues that feature Filipino musicians include Papa’s Kitchen, House of Inasal, Krystal’s Cafe and Perlas.

“Live music is the fiber of what makes Filipinos happy despite whatever’s happening in the world right now,” Pascua said. “Just come to a club like this and you know you’re going to have a good time, even if just for four hours.”

© 2017 The FilAm

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  1. […] October 16, 2017 By Voices of NY Source: The FilAm Original story […]

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