Singer Mark Alain Echem shows better picture of Basilan and Abu Sayyaf

"Gusto kong sabihin sa ibang tao na I don’t blame them for having that impression sa Basilan, kasi totoo namang nagkaroon ng kidnappings. But I think Basilan deserves credit. You know, come to the place and then you talk," says singer Mark Alain Echem who grew up in Basilan.


Para sa ibang Pinoy, katumbas ng lugar na Lamitan, Basilan ang mga salitang "kaguluhan" at "kidnapping" ng Abu Sayyaf.

Pero para sa baguhang singer na si Mark Alain Echem, hindi naman lahat ng Abu Sayyaf ay masasama, base na rin sa kanyang naging karanasan sa ilang bandido noong nakatira at nag-aaral pa siya sa Basilan.

"Hindi po ako nagkaroon ng bad experience. Actually, kung makikita n’yo sila, maliliit sila, yung framework ng body. Tapos they’re very nice.

"Kasi there were only a few members of Abu Sayyaf that I got to meet. They’re very respectable. Some of them gusto nang magbagong-buhay, like yung tatlo na pina-surrender po ng mom ko," sabi ni Mark Alain.

Nakausap ng PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) si Mark Alain sa launching ng kanyang self-titled album under Sony Music Entertainment na ginanap kahapon, April 12, sa Patio Carlito restaurant.

Paano naman na-involve ang kanyang ina sa pag-surrender ng ilang Abu Sayyaf members?

"She’s not a politician. But she’s very close to some people from the military. So, siya yung naging middlewoman between the Abu Sayyaf and the military.

"Kasi my mom is also a Muslim. Nakarating sa mom ko na meron mga gustong magbagong-buhay. So, yung mom ko, tinulungan sila, siya ang nag-facilitate ng surrender nila," saad ng singer.

Ano ang puwede niyang sabihin sa ibang tao tungkol sa Basilan, lalo na’t ang na-create nitong image sa iba ay isang lugar na nakakatakot puntahan?

"Gusto kong sabihin sa ibang tao na I don’t blame them for having that impression sa Basilan, kasi totoo namang nagkaroon ng kidnappings. But I think Basilan deserves credit. You know, come to the place and then you talk.

"What’s good about the place? We have wonderful beaches and very fresh seafoods. I think those are the two assets of Basilan. Marami rin kaming rubber, marami kaming niyog."

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Paano nakatulong sa perspective niya as a person and as a music artist ang pagtira niya sa Basilan?

"As a person, it’s always great to grow up sa province kasi nakikita mo yung sitwasyon ng mga kababayan mo. We don’t have big buildings, we only have kubos, a few small buildings. There are only a few businesses sa Lamitan.

"So, growing up, nakaka-relate ako doon. When I came sa city and I see people from the province, nakaka-relate ako doon. And I think that makes me a better person. Kasi you have the capacity to relate to as many people. It’s good kasi naiintindihan mo sila, e.

"And as an artist, I didn’t grow up from a family that is inclined to music. Pero ako kasi mahilig talaga ako sa music, gusto kong kumanta."

SELF-TITLED SOLO ALBUM. Dahil nga sa hilig niya sa musika kaya sinubukan ni Mark Alain pasukin ang industriya. Una siyang naging vocalist ng bandang Frio at nagtagal siya rito ng ilang taon hanggang sa maisip nga niyang mag-solo at maglabas ng self-titled album under Sony Music Entertainment.

"This is my first solo album. I came out with an album with a band like five years ago. The name of the band is Frio. So, that’s how my career started," banggit niya.

Bakit niya iniwan ang Frio?

"Kasi the band is pop alternative. I felt that I could not maximize my potential as a pop ballad singer kung nasa band ako doing alternative which I’m not very good at," sagot ni Mark Alain.

Hindi pa raw disbanded ang Frio kahit humiwalay na siya sa banda. Naiintindihan naman ng bandmates niya ang kanyang dahilan ng pagsosolo. Magkakaibigan pa rin daw sila.

Sa katunayan, nakipag-collaborate pa siya sa kanyang dating bandmates na sina Raz Itum at Tristan Climaco, na nagsulat ng ilan sa mga kanta sa album.

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Isa na nga sa produkto ng collaboration na ito ang carrier single ng album, ang "Maghihintay." Pamilyar sa ilan ang kantang ito dahil matagal na rin itong pinatutugtog sa radyo kahit hindi pa nagagawa ang album ni Mark Alain.

Kuwento niya, "’Yang ’Maghihintay,’ nagawa siya two years ago pa. My bandmate, na bahista din ng Frio, sumusulat siya ng kanta. He came to me one night and sabi niya, ’Uy, may kanta ako para sa iyo.’ Kasi ballad nga yung forte ko. Sabi ko, ’Sige, let’s record it.’

"So, nag-record kami. Sinubmit namin sa radio stations, nagustuhan naman nila. So, even without an album, tinugtog po nila. It’s been in the airwaves for two years.

"Then finally when I decided to come back to the country last year from the US, naisip ko bakit hindi ko ituloy yung album ko kasi medyo pamilyar na yung song and it’s really doing well sa radio."

Ano ang ginawa niya sa Amerika?

"I spend some time with my mom. Kasi under asylum siya. I’m from Basilan, so I think you get the picture. Yung dad ko is still in Basilan and taking care of our business. Yung twin brother ko, si Mark Rolen, is based in Cebu. And ako, nandito ako sa Manila."

Nagpapasalamat nga si Mark Alain sa Sony Music sa pag-sign up sa kanya.

"It’s a dream come true for me, so I’m really thankful sa Sony Music for this blessing. I promise to give my best because I want to make them proud. Sana tangkilikin ng mga tao ang album. Sana magustuhan nila ang mga kanta ko."

Bukod sa "Maghihintay," kasama rin sa album ang mga kantang "Sa Piling Ko," "Loving You," "Isang Araw," at "Ika’y Mapapasaakin."

ROCKER-LOOKING BALLADEER. Rocker ang look niya, pero ballad ang mga kanta niya. Bakit ganito ang packaging sa kanya?

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"One day kasi I decided to grow my beard and nagustuhan naman ng Sony Music, so I decided to keep it. Yun din kasi ang gusto namin, kasi most ng ballad singers parang formal and clean looking, so we want to break away from that."

Sa hirap ng kumpetisyon at sa dami ng male singers ngayon, ano ang iba niyang puwedeng mai-offer sa mga tao?

"Ako, sincerity ang ino-offer ko," sagot ni Mark Alain.

"I’m not here for the money, I’m not here for fame. I’m just here to be able to express myself and to share my music.

"And I hope to make a difference in my own little way in the music industry. We have a lot of very good singers, so I hope to be able to leave a mark in the industry through my music."

Kung siya ang mamimili, sinong female singer ang gusto niyang maka-duet?

"Siyempre ambition is free, so I would say Charice Pempengco," sagot niya.

"I believe so much in her vocal prowess. And obviously, she made it to the international scene, napakagaling niya, e. Gusto ko siyang maka-duet for the sake of singing and for the prestige of it."

OPEN TO ACTING. May mga singers na nagbe-venture din sa pag-arte. Gusto niya rin bang maging artista?

"Given the chance, why not? I’m very open to that. I don’t have any experience in acting but I’m very open to undergo workshops to learn more about the craft."

Okay din ba sa kanyang sumabak sa sexy roles?

"If I have the body, it’s okay. But for now, I think have to go to the gym first."

Sino ang crush niya sa showbiz?

"Anne Curtis at saka si Kris Aquino," sagot ni Mark Alain.

"Si Anne, obviously she’s very pretty. She has the body and she’s very young and eloquent, as well.

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"Si Kris naman she’s very smart and I love the way she talks. I love her opinions. I think she’s very balanced in her views."

At 25, single daw si Mark Alain ngayon. Mas gusto na muna niyang ganito para raw makapag-focus siya sa kanyang career.


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