MANILA, Philippines—They may have exchanged words of anger not too long ago, but on Wednesday night President Aquino and ousted Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona were seen enjoying the concert of classic rock group America at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Aquino and Corona did not exactly cross paths—the President was seated at the lower box section, while the former Chief Justice was at the patron section, three rows away from the stage—but a number of people in the audience could not resist talking about the sight of two public figures who hated each other chilling out on music.
The bachelor President, an avowed audiophile who had been seen at previous concerts with a female companion, arrived without a date this time.
A few hours before the show began, he was with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Chairman Cristino Naguiat and his wife, Tet, and other government officials at a Japanese-Singaporean restaurant in the Smart Araneta complex.
The restaurant’s staff told the Inquirer that the President ordered beef teppanyaki, among other dishes.
Corona, who had likewise attended concerts at the Big Dome, came with his wife, Cristina.
Music to forget by
Kalapana, a Hawaiian band popular in the 1970s, opened the concert. Its breezy island music helped set the mood for a relaxing night. Its most famous hits, “Nightbird” and “The Hurt,” were warmly applauded by the crowd.
During intermission, Aquino stood up, walked along the concourse near the food stalls, and was overheard saying he wanted yogurt. Not finding it, he proceeded to step outside the Big Dome lobby.
He returned just in time for America’s set.
Baby boomers and hippies
The group’s first four songs—“Tin Man,” “You Can Do Magic,” “Don’t Cross the River,” “Daisy Jane”—elicited loud cheers from the audience, which was composed of baby boomers, or those born between 1946 and 1964, and the hippie generation, or those who were teenagers when the band achieved worldwide fame in the 1970s.
Originally a trio, the band lost one of its members, Dan Peek, who left the group in 1977 and died last year.
But its two other members, Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell, both 60, have not stopped performing and recording since forming the band in 1972.
“We’ve been doing this for 42 years and we play an average of 100 shows each year,” Beckley said in between songs.
After doing a few covers of songs by Joni Mitchell (“Woodstock”) and the Mamas and the Papas (“California Dreaming”), among other oldies, Beckley and Bunnell, plus three sidemen, went back to playing the best of America’s hits: “The Border,” “Inspector Mills,” “Only in Your Heart,” “Lonely People,” “Sandman,” “Sister Golden Hair.”
“Lonely People” and “Sister Golden Hair” got the loudest applause, but “Sandman” particularly stood out for its grungy version, the cacophony of electric guitar riffs capturing the turbulence of the ’60s and ’70s.
When the band returned onstage for its encore, “All My Life” and “A Horse With No Name,” many in the crowd were singing along to the lyrics.
Aquino, who stayed to the end of the show, would most probably be back at the Big Dome to watch coming concerts headlining artists he listens to at home: Elton John on December 8; and Sting, whose show on December 9 has changed venues from the Mall of Asia Arena to Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Corona just might show up, too.