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Famous modern-day Filipino: Arnel Pineda

Updated on April 22, 2011
Arnel Pineda - lead singer for legendary rock band, JOURNEY
Arnel Pineda - lead singer for legendary rock band, JOURNEY | Source

Arnel Pineda’s Journey to Fame

“Don’t stop believing,” that has always been the mantra of Arnel.

Growing up was never easy for Arnel. Born on September 5, 1967, Arnel Pineda grew up in Sampaloc, Manila. It was his mother who inspired him to develop his talent in singing and his parents encouraged him to join many amateur singing contests. He knew he has the talent but everything crashed when his inspiration, his light died when he was thirteen. His mother had been suffering from rheumatic heart disease. That illness left their family in deep debt. Because his father can’t support them all, Arnel decided to quit school and lived on his own.

He spent his first independent years on the streets, sleeping wherever he could. He earned small amount of money from collecting glass bottles, newspapers, and scrap metal and selling them to recyclers.

with his band mates
with his band mates


When he was 15 years old, Arnel became the lead singer of the musical group called Ijos Band. In 1986, he and other members formed the group Amo. In 1988, Amo joined and won the Philippine leg of the Yamaha World Band Explosion. They made it to finals in Hong Kong, but unfortunately did not qualify to win because of some technicality. The rules stated that the winning song should be an original composition.  

In 1990, they formed another band called Intensity Five. They once again joined the Yamaha World Band Explosion. Arnel won the Best Vocalist award and the band came in as first runner up.

Eventually, Intensity Five disbanded and formed another group called New Age. In 1991, during one of their performances, a talent agent spotted Arnel and asked the group to move in Hong Kong.

In 1999, Arnel caught the attention of the record label Warner Bros. and flew back to the Philippines on his days off to record a solo self-titled album—Arnel Pineda.

The Journey

In 2006, Arnel and his band mates formed another group called The Zoo. Videos of The Zoo performing cover songs by Journey, Survivor, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Air Supply, and other popular acts from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, began appearing on YouTube in February 2007. Neal Schon of Journey saw these video, contacted Arnel, and asked him to audition for Journey. At first, Arnel thought it was a joke but eventutal, he and his manager Bert De Leon flew to United States for the audition.

On December 5, 2007, Pineda was announced as the lead singer of Journey. CNN Headline News ran the story as part of their "News to Me" segment.

Since then, Journey has been into many concert tours and their album is a certified hit and widely admired by people around the globe. In an interview, Neal Schon said, “We feel reborn...We feel very fortunate to have found Arnel.”


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