"Music brings us together because music comes from the heart," Filipino pop-rock singer Yeng Constantino told The National, days before she kicks off the Beats on the Beach music festival at Abu Dhabi's Corniche on Thursday, November 24.
Constantino, 27, knows a thing or two about heartfelt singing. Her own music, which she often writes and composes, embodies the soul-stirring passion of classic Filipino folk ballads modernised with a spirited punk sound.
"Music evokes memories, whether good or painful," she says, reflecting the themes of many of her songs, including her biggest hits Hawak Kamay (I'm By Your Side), Ikaw (You), and Better Than Yesterday, a collaboration with Singaporean rapper Sheikh Haikel.
Constantino catapulted into fame back in 2006 after winning the first season of Pinoy Dream Academy, a reality singing competition where aspiring musicians live together for four months while undergoing musical training from the industry’s veterans.
She has since released six chart-topping albums, three of which have gone on platinum status. With a sound influenced by the work of music superstars Alanis Morissette, LeAnn Rimes, Avril Lavigne, and even American progressive rock band Coheed and Cambria, Constantino writes songs based on her own life experience. "My music is inspired by mostly people whom I love and situations that I imagine myself into," she says. Her 2014 hit Ikaw, for example, was composed during her engagement with now-husband Yan Asuncion.
Constantino has also played numerous shows across the world, performing for Filipinos living and working abroad.
“I feel honoured to perform for my countrymen who I consider as modern-day heroes,” she says. “Not only are they providing a better life for their family, they are also helping the Philippine economy in the process. So the pleasure is really mine to be given the chance to perform for them.”
Constantino says she’s eager to meet the thousands of Filipinos living in the UAE who will be attending her show, but also new fans and listeners of different nationalities who may be encountering her music for the first time. She has performed in the Emirates several times in the past, most recently in March of this year, but says she “will always come back, so long as they want me to perform.”
“Definitely, it’s the hospitality and warmth of the people in the UAE which makes me want to keep coming back,” she adds.
As she celebrates 10 years in the music industry, Constantino is also venturing into new and exciting territory. She is currently a judge for the Philippines's latest reality show sensation, Pinoy Boyband Superstar, a search for a new all-male pop group. After starting her own career from a talent show, Constantino finds it a privilege to play a role in training the country's next batch of music artists.
“I definitely find it inspiring. It is such a blessing to be given a platform to pay it forward,” she says. “I wish these new talents success even after the show.”
This year also saw the release of the pop-rock stage musical, Ako Si Josephine (I Am Josephine), which is based entirely on Constantino's discography. She is also currently performing shows alongside fellow pop sensations Kyla, Angeline Quinto and KZ Tandingan, in a concert series billed as a showdown of four divas.
“That’s something to look forward to — and I will keep announcing updates on social media as we go nearer each new milestone,” Constantino says. “There’s definitely a lot ahead.”
Yeng Constantino will perform at Beats on the Beach, Lagoon Beach, Abu Dhabi Corniche, on Thursday, November 24, doors open at 6.30pm, free entry, visit www.yasalam.ae