The Filipino word sulit doesn't have a direct translation in English but the phrase "worth it" comes close to what it means. Then there's the Filipino language convention of repeating the same word twice to stress meaning so that if something is "really, really worth it", we say sulit na sulit.

Last Friday (16 January), I attended a concert that was sulit na sulit. It was the show of Filipino heartthrob and 'national treasure' Piolo Pascual. He was in Australia for the weekend, performing in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

Starting out his career as a model and later as an actor, Piolo is also a film producer and eco-warrior (not many people know this but he's advocated protection of natural ecosystems in the Philippines). 

Here's the kicker: he is so good looking that had he just stood on stage and did nothing but smile, I would have still paid for a ticket!

Imagine my surprise then that when he opened his mouth to sing, Piolo or 'Papa P' as his fans call him, can actually sing! (See his duet with KZ) I guess many of us migrants who left the Philippines at least over a decade ago would have missed the fact that over the years, he's bagged several gold and multi-platinum awards as a recording artist.

Like I said, he is so nakakakilig (or 'such a hottie' would be an imperfect translation) that had he stood there and read a book, and did nothing else, I would have still PAID to see him.

The second surprise of the night was the special guest, KZ Tandingan. Winner of the first X-Factor Philippines back in 2012, it's safe to assume she's got a great voice. But then you have to remember that the Philippines is the land of great voices so to stand out from the crowd means she must have a really, really great voice!

Rather than describe them to you, just watch snippets of her show's performance here:

* KZ Tandingan sings Adele's 'Rolling in the Deep', with auto-tune

* KZ Tandingan sings Imelda Papin's classic 'Isang Linggong Pag-Ibig'

And because surprises comes in threes, I have to give a nod to the band, which was led by Manila-based musical director Beth Martin. As overseas guests, Piolo and KZ wouldn't have had enough practice time before the show but you can tell when professionals are onstage because they deliver a seamless performance despite the time constraints.

Kudos to the organisers, the stage production and the front acts (I missed the first part of the show but several concertgoers said they were really good!). It was a great way to spend a Friday night and I hope they come back for another show.

Like I said, sulit na sulit.

Photo credits: Violi Calvert and writer's own

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