Who’s afraid of Taylor Swift

Posted on February 04, 2011

In the run-up to the lucrative Valentine’s season, local concert producers worry about foreign competition.

She may be young, talented, and famous, but American pop superstar Taylor Swift seems scary to many in the Philippines. Ever since the 21-year-old Grammy-Award winner announced that she would drop by Manila for a concert on Feb. 19, many local musicians, singers, and concert producers have scampered to modify their plans for the lucrative concert season leading up to Valentine’s Day.

Asia’s nightingale, Lani Misalucha, openly admitted that she declined to have a concert for Valentine’s Day "since people would save up to watch Taylor Swift, and skip all the concerts before hers."

Kuh Ledesma, who has always staged a concert during the Valentine’s season, was up in arms. She immediately urged the government to intervene, asking for more support for concerts featuring local artists by giving tax breaks to producers.

Ms. Ledesma, who will have a concert at the Plenary Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on Feb. 12 and 13, even asked authorities to consider prohibiting foreign acts from staging concerts during the profitable Valentine’s season, similar to the ban on foreign movies during the Christmas holidays for the annual Metro Manila Film Festival.


Composer and musical director Ryan Cayabyab, who will perform with actor Piolo Pascual at the PICC on Feb. 14, was less confrontational about foreign acts lording it over concert ticket sales.

But Mr. Cayabyab set aside his ego to plead for support for Mr. Pascual, something the maestro has not done for anyone else. "Let’s help Piolo Pascual before Taylor Swift," Mr. Cayabyab told reporters during the concert’s press conference last month.

The fear of Ms. Swift is not without basis. Tickets for her concert at the Araneta Coliseum, which cost as much as P12,680 each, were said to have been sold out weeks ago.

On the other hand, ticket sales to Mr. Pascual’s concert at the PICC were said to have been "less than ideal," prompting those handling the concert -- led by his home studio, ABS-CBN Corp. -- to resort to drastic measures to prop up the demand.

Just last Sunday, Mr. Pascual admitted on national television that TV host KC Concepcion is his girlfriend, and that they have been together since last October. Why he came clean about the relationship only now remains a mystery, but showbiz insiders could not help but wonder if Mr. Pascual’s admission was just a publicity stunt to drum up interest for his concert.

(Of course, fans are now looking forward to seeing if Ms. Concepcion will watch him perform at the PICC, or if she will have a "surprise number" during the concert since it might be the public’s first opportunity to see them together "officially" as a couple.)


When Mr. Pascual first mentioned that he would have a Valentine’s Day concert back in November during a press conference for a TV show, he said it would be staged at the 15,000-seat Araneta Coliseum.

But weak ticket sales allegedly prompted producers to move the concert to a smaller venue -- the PICC Plenary Hall, which can accommodate 3,000 people.

Mr. Pascual’s camp has denied this, saying the concert was really intended to be staged at the PICC.


Still many in the concert industry are surprised to learn that there is no event scheduled on Feb. 14 at the Araneta Coliseum -- the day of Mr. Pascual’s Valentine’s concert.

"It is peculiar to discover that Araneta Coliseum will not have a concert on Valentine’s Day itself," a concert producer said on condition of anonymity. "Usually, Feb. 14 is the first [day] to get booked in Araneta Coliseum since many concertgoers prefer to watch [concerts] at the Big Dome. It is just strange that the days leading to Valentine’s Day were booked, but not Valentine’s Day itself."

He said that if indeed producers of Mr. Pascual’s concert reserved the Araneta Coliseum and decided to move to the PICC: "They [Mr. Pascual’s concert producers] easily forfeited about half a million pesos in reservation fees."

Araneta Coliseum officials were unavailable for comment.

Mario Hernando, an entertainment columnist, said in an interview with BusinessWorld that the issue is not about Filipinos not being proud of local artists, but about how local fans are now used to seeing their local idols for free on TV, or in mall shows and fiestas.

"Honestly, you cannot blame local fans if they look forward to Taylor Swift’s first ever concert in the country, instead of getting excited [about] watch[ing] Piolo [Pascual] in a concert, since you see him nightly on TV," Mr. Hernando said.