Bo Cerrudo: A Love Affair With Classics

Bo Cerrudo: A Love Affair With Classics
by Boy Abunda
(Star) Directline
Novermber 12, 2007

Now in his forties, he’s the artist formerly known as Bimbo Cerrudo. Why the sudden change of name? “I did it for favorable reasons,” says Cerrudo, who now goes by the abbreviated Bo. “In Japan, ‘bimbo’ means poor. In Italy, it means small boy. And in the US, it means you-know-what.”

Appropriately, the new moniker comes with a “new” repertoire. Bo, who gained public attention in the ‘80s with a remake of Wadab’s Pag Tumatagal, Lalong Tumitibay, has gone through the gamut of genres in his 20-plus-year career. He sang in theater (Miss Saigon, West Side Story), and in a slew of local beauty pageants. There was even a brief Latin Pop phase and occasional appearances on TV dramas and teleseryes. Yet for Bo, something was terribly amiss. “I was getting older, and nothing was happening,” says the singer who went through a mild depression in 2004. “I thought to myself, there must be something more.”

The answer would come through a friend’s invitation: A singing engagement in Davao where Bo would croon Broadway classics to a “mature” audience of doctors. By evening’s end, the show was a hit, and the singer reborn. “I thought, these people appreciate this type of music. What am I doing singing Ricky Martin? My teacher was right all along.”

Indeed, it was his “teacher,” classical singer Irma Ponce-Enrile Potenciano, who first saw potential in the dark and skinny 20-year-old with a big booming voice when he was at the University of Santo Tomas under a voice lesson scholarship, his prize for winning the Student’s Pop Singing Competition in 1985. “She used to tell me, ‘Tama na yung pop singing, ‘di ka bagay diyan,’” he says with a laugh today. “I didn’t listen to her. I was young, feeling matinee idol ako. Looking back, I realized I never really did make it big in the pop scene.”

Apparently with that big booming voice was made for the standards; think timeless tunes by Mario Lanza and Enrico Caruso, as well as classics in German, Spanish and Italian. While they sound more like music from his parents’ generation, Bo appears perfectly at ease with them. “Before, my wife used to give me new songs to study and it would take me months to learn them!” he admits. “Now, we choose our songs very carefully. We want people to feel good in our shows.” Recalling the countless twists and turns in his colorful career, the singer says, “I feel I’ve rediscovered my passion for singing.”

People have rediscovered him, too. Bo, who once performed at the Captain’s Bar of the Mandarin saw his show Tonight, Love stretch nearly three hours, thanks to an appreciative audience who would not let him leave even after endless encores. “They just didn’t want to stand up,” he says. “Our poor musicians had to bring out their archive of songs.”

Not that he’s complaining. Bo Cerrudo, who is accompanied by an 18-piece orchestra in his shows slated Wednesdays or Thursdays at the Teatrino in Greenhills, which runs until the end of the month, is only too glad to do it. “I’ve come to that consciousness where I don’t need to prove anything to anybody,” says Bo. “I no longer look at what I do as work. I just want to have fun and I think people see that in my shows.”

A host of the country’s notable individuals including former Miss Universe Margie Moran, Philippine Institute of Interior Design president Gerry Contreras, singer Maricris-Bermont Garcia and McDonalds chairman George Yang have graced the show and witnessed the talent that is Bo. Here are some of their comments:

Businessman and author George Sison shares: “Go and see Cerrudo Classico. You’ll be grateful that you did.”

“Many know Bimbo Cerrudo. Few are familiar with Bo Cerrudo. Experience the metamorphosis. It’s stunning,” says Gerry Contreras.

Says Philippine National Red Cross secretary general Corazon Alma de Leon: “Cerrudo Classico is a must-see for the young and old. Cerrudo is a talented singer and entertainer. An artist par excellance. Proudly Filipino!”

“I told my friends, ‘You’ll fall in love again after watching the concert,’”quips Alex Brillanters, dean of UP National College of Public Administration and Governance.

Catch Bo’s performance tonight, Nov. 12, and on Nov. 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29 at the Teatrino, in Greenhills. Show starts at 8 p.m. For details, call 722-4532 or 725-8691 loc. 116 or 0928-7347125.