Filipinos definitely have a soft spot for David Archuleta. The runner up from the seventh season of American Idol has been making return trips to Manila years after his run on the reality singing competition and even did a teleserye here in 2012.
Soon after that acting gig, though, Archuleta put his entertainment career on hold to serve a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
“A lot of people said that I was such an idiot for doing that,” Archuleta said during a presscon on Wednesday, October 18, for his comeback show here in Manila, which is happening today, October 20 at the Kia Theater.
“They told me, ‘Why are you taking a break, when you’re in a business where you have to keep the momentum going? You have to be constantly engaged with your audience or else people will forget you.’ That was hard. It scared me, when I was trying to decide whether I should go.
“But I think sometimes God asks us to do things that seem dumb to everybody else. He makes sense out of things that don’t make sense to the world. So I had to trust in that. I asked myself, if I were to lose everything, am I still willing to do this?” the singer said.
Despite strong resistance from people closest to him, Archulate went anyway and he says he has no regrets.
“It changed my life so much,” he said. “I will forever be grateful for that. It’s the greatest thing I’ve done in my life so far.”
He was only 16 when he first appeared on American Idol. Ten years, a million records sold and countless concerts later, Archuleta’s all grown up and living life on his own terms. During a roundtable interview, he gamely answered questions from the press in his trademark wide-eyed, aw-shucks manner, but it was obvious the young kid from Utah who charmed millions of audiences the world over has learned a few things and is more eager to share them with anyone willing to listen.
1. On developing opinions about controversial issues like religion and politics
“I was teenager when I started and people would ask you about your opinion about all of these things and I’m like, oh my gosh, I don’t even have an opinion about some of this. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve definitely gained an opinion about more things. I’m not afraid to be who I am. Whereas before I have to be politically correct, I can’t do anything or reveal anything about me that would be offensive to anyone.
“I think one of those was being a Mormon, for example. (People had these ideas that I) must hate this or that kind of people. Or you must have six wives or six moms, and I’d be like, just don’t talk about it so you’ll politically correct. But now I’m not afraid to be who I am, and that’s part of who I’ve always been. And I think with social media you can’t really hide things about who you are in your life. So I think people are daring to be themselves more, which I think is a good thing.”
2. On his personal advocacy for mental health and children's welfare
“It’s great that there’s a Mental Health Awareness Month. It definitely helped inspire Postcards in the Sky, my new album (which comes out today). I was trying to understand my own anxiety, my own issues with things like bullying and abuse. Also, people who are close to me, including my family, suffer from depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. It doesn’t make you a bad person, because you didn’t choose to be like that. You didn’t choose to struggle with something like that. But it doesn’t have to define you. Like Moana says, ‘They’ve stolen the heart from inside you, but this does not define you. This is not who you are.’
“And then I’ve always a big advocate of kids (issues), so even in the US tour, next week I start my tour. I partner with (an organization) where they sponsor kids who are orphans, and finding homes for orphans. That’s a big thing for me. Kids are innocent but they don’t have a voice for themselves. I’m a big advocate of people who don’t know how to speak up for themselves or who don’t have their own voice.”
3. On turning off social media
“When I was in my mission in Chile, I didn’t have social media. That’s when I gained more confidence than I ever did because I wasn’t constantly comparing myself to other people. Sometimes we need breaks. I think we all need breaks. In my song 'Numb', which is on Postcards in the Sky, there’s a line that goes, ‘Everybody needs time away to wake up with the sun on their face.’
“You can share good things on social media, but we also need to have the strength and will to be able to put the phone away. And sometimes there’s that fear of missing out, but you know what, I did it. And I really found myself.”
4. On Mormons
“There’s a lot of stigma about Mormons. I’m just trying to be me, I’m trying to say that you know what, I’m a Mormon and this is who we are.”
5. On trying new things
"You don’t have to be perfect to keep trying things. I didn’t know how to act. But I did 'Nandito Ako'. You don’t have to be perfect to find joy in what you do in your life. That’s something that I constantly have to remind myself. Just to take a breath and try not to overthink everything.”
6. On people’s expectations of him
“The (record) label would literally tell me in meetings that ‘We want you to be a white Chris Brown.’ Or, ‘We want you to be a Justin Bieber.’ They would say that. They always want me to be someone else. Instead of just me. I felt like I lost a lot of my own values when you compare yourself to other people or artists. But you don’t have to be like somebody else to be good enough. You just have to find who you are and let that shine.”
7. On being invincible
“Being invincible is when you realize that the strength doesn’t come from you. The times when I felt the strongest was when I felt supported by something bigger than me and trusting that God is there. Whether there’s 20,000 people watching or I’m by myself in the mountains, I feel the strength that somebody up there knows who I am and is watching and guiding me and wants me to be happy. I guess I feel invincible when I receive strength that’s beyond my own.”
8. On his idea of success
“What is your character? What choices are you making? Are you trying to be a good person? Are you working hard? Are you trying to improve? Learn new things? I think that’s where success comes from.
“It’s also about surrounding yourself with the people that you trust and love. It doesn’t matter if they’re the top manager, or top agent, if they’re not honest, and yeah you’re making a lot of money, I feel dirty. And you don’t feel successful doing that. So I would say being around good people with good hearts, you feel that much more successful.” — AT, GMA News
David Archuleta Live in Manila happens on October 20th, Friday, at the Kia Theater, Araneta Center, Quezon City. For tickets, call Ticketnet, visit ticketnet.com.ph.
Paul John Caña is a writer and live music geek. Check out his blog manontheotherside.blogspot.com. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @pauljohncana