The harsh weather and pouring rain didn’t stop the surprise 70th birthday bash for “teen-looking” songstress Carina Afable given by her family and close friends at the Verdugo Room of the Castaways Restaurant in Burbank last Saturday, March 1st. Carina’s celebration was not only intimate but had a lot of “personal” touch put lovingly into it by her family of around 100 people.
As perky as she always is, Carina was ravishing in a radiantly-looking lace-embedded red and white long dress. It was no surprise to me to see a room packed with so many lovely-looking people, who were mostly her closely-knit family who all must have inherited her charming genes.
This writer was grateful to be among those very close friends invited in the celebration, since Carina and I have been friends since the early 80’s, when she obligingly agreed to be our featured star endorsing the first Filipino yellow pages we published.
A natural performer since she was six years old, she landed a television career at the young age of eight years old and appeared in shows such as “Chelsea Dance Time,” “Spotlight On Carina,” “Kiddie Land” and “May I Sing To You..”
In her teens, Carina has traveled throughout Asia, Canada and the United States, appearing in roadshows with the likes of Pilita Corrales and Victor Wood. But as luck may have it, she met fellow singers, Norma Ledesma and Linda Magno and they formed a trio called “The Hypertensions” in 1974.
At the height of her career in 1979, Carina left for the United States, subsequently followed by her five kids: Richie, Robert, Cherry, Ronnie SIlos and Christopher Bell.
In 1983, settling in LA’s San Fernando Valley, Carina formed a band with Alex Lagman, whom she still continues to work with on weekend gigs. However, after eleven years, she finally retired from her day job at Anthem Blue Cross and now resides in Las Vegas with her beloved husband Samuel Gray.
Most of Carina’s grandchildren performed for her. Sean,(son of Richie) sang “New York, New York,” while younger sisters Katrina and Nicole played the saxophone and flute; Grandson Jed and granddaughter Melissa (Robert’s kids) performed an acoustic version of “Lucky I’m In Love With My Best Friend;” Sabrina, daughter of Cherry, performed a dance routine and Riley, son of Ronnie, sang a rendition of Justin Timberlake’s “Pusher Love.”
Highlight of the evening was the performance of the “Hypertensions” (Carina, Thelma and Norma) when they sang their signature songs:”Have You Never Been Mellow” and a Dreamgirls medley of the riveting song “One NIght Only,” with Cherry, Ana and another guest singer, Ninette Tenza-Umali as back-up.
A surprise serenade was sang by veteran singer, Ric Manrique who soulfully sang the songs: “Maligayang Bati,” “Maalala Mo Kaya” and “May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You,” which made us all somehow electrified.
Finally, Ninette Tenza sang “The Nearness Of You,” while Carina and husband Sam danced romantically, while the rest of the rainy night was filled with revelry through DJ Fernando’s dance music
In another part of town, at the Kapistahan Grill in Eagle Rock, another rocker-singer friend, Malou Zagala-Toler, a fellow alumni of Saint Joseph’s College Quezon City, celebrated her milestone 50th birthday on Saturday, February 22nd, filled with all her friends, mostly entertainers singing for her or played their musical instruments.
In sharing her birthday celebration, Malou thanked all of us who came to be a part of her memorable evening by singing “Piece of my heart,” “Give Me One Good Reason,” Bonggagahan, “Dirty Little Secret” and “Just a guy” (composed by daughter Jasmine). Toward the end of the evening, we were all in awe in witnessing Malou’s daughter, Jasmine singing a heart-rending song she composed entitled “Thank You Mom.”
On Sunday, February 23rd was John Phillip Yu’s (JP) unforgettable 1st birthday celebration at the newly-opened Kusina FIlipina Restaurant owned by Jun and Amor Miranda in Eagle Rock. The cozy restaurant was brimming with guests which led me to make a comment to JP’s parents, Noli and JoAnn Yu that “it seemed like the FIl-Am community of LA were all there to greet JP on his birthday.”