Tuesday, June 27, 2017

116. Is That Who I Think She Is? PILITA CORRALES for EMBASSY CIGARETTES, 1956

Sometime in the 1950s, an imported cigarette brand was launched in the Philippine market---EMBASSY CIGARETTES. EMBASSY Extra, which came in soft packs of 20 sticks, were made available through W.D. & H.O. Wills,  a British tobacco importer and cigarette manufacturer in Bristol, England. It was one of the founding companies of Imperial Tobacco. EMBASSY Filter was introduced in 1962 and, by the late 1960s, was the most popular brand of cigarette in the UK, taking 24% of the market in 1968.

EMBASSY CIGARETTES was promoted through radio program sponsorships—in a stragety that was utilized by most major consumer brands in the 50s. It sponsored DZBB radio musical shows—one of which starred a young, up-and-coming Cebuana mestiza singer, 17 year-old Pilar “Pilita” Garrido Corrales.  Fresh from a finishing school in Spain, Pilita sang her way to audience’s hearts with her repertoire of  romantic Spanish songs and native ditties. Pilita became the signature model for EMBASSY CIGARETTES, and the small ads even featured her singing schedule n DZBB.

In 3 years, Pilita would move to Australia, sailing in 1959 with with actor-magician John Calvert for some engagements. En route, they were shipwrecked off Australia’s northern coast and rescued by the Navy. The duo went on to perform in Sydney, Darwin and Melbourne. Pilita was an instant hit, and was featured on the popular TV shows. Pilita was signed up by Astor Records and  became the first female recording star in Australia to score a hit on the pop charts with the song. ‘Come Closer To Me’—long before Olivia Newton-John and Kylie Minogue.Considered as one of the ‘Great Dames of Victorian Radio and Television’, Pilita was honored by having a street named after her in the 70s. in the Forest Hill district of Victoria.

 In 1963, she returned to the Philippines to establish her career in her own country,l where she gained further fame. Her signature song A Million Thanks to You by Alice Doria-Gamilla was translated in seven languages.  Her recorded songs with George Canseco became classics; foremost among these is “Kapantay ay Langit”, which Pilita turned into a hit.  In 1972, she was named Best Performer at the 1st Tokyo Music Festival (1972), singing Canseco’s “My Daughter”. She bested international artists including the highly regarded Olivia Newton-John. Pilita was also the first Filipino to sing in Caesars Palace.

Indeed, her enduring fame and popularity outlasted the cigarettes that she first endorsed in 1956. In fact, almost 50 years after, in 2007, Pilita was chosen to become ANLENE’s Bone Health ambassador  in a TV commercial that featured her with her trademark back-bending singing pose. ANLENE is a calcium- and vitamin-rich milk specifically formulated to build stronger bones


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