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Moymoy Palaboy, superstar

By Pocholo Concepcion
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:43:00 07/09/2008

Filed Under: Internet, Entertainment (general)

MANILA, Philippines?The latest YouTube sensation is not a singer in the usual sense, but two Pinoy lip-synching siblings, whose uproarious antics have earned them fans worldwide, including Peter Cetera of the famous 1970s group, Chicago.

The novelty music video act that is Moymoy Palaboy debuted on the Internet in February 2007, purely on a whim. ?Trip lang, gusto lang naming makita sarili namin sa YouTube,? says James Ronald Obeso, a.k.a. Moymoy.

Since then, it has a garnered a total of 7.12 million hits for 22 uploaded videos.

Shy bro, not!

At first, James had difficulty convincing Rofil, his younger brother, who was very shy. But when Rofil finally said yes, deciding to wear a bushy wig to hide his identity, the act proved to be a rib-tickling bombshell waiting to explode.

Using a Sony Ericsson W810i cell phone with a 2-megapixel camera ? and with Rofil editing the footage on an HP laptop ? the first Moymoy Palaboy video, ?N Sync?s ?Dirty Pop,? featured only James.

Response to the next videos was phenomenal. Netizens couldn?t resist the way the boys put a twist to lip-synching, a refreshing update on the art of theatrical spoof. Giving their work a natural, raw appeal was the fact that the video was shot in austere surroundings, the cramped living room of their Pasay City apartment, with their aunt (?Mama Auntie?) casually wandering in and out of the frame.

So far, the most-watched Moymoy video is the brothers? versions of the Spice Girls? ?Wannabe,? currently with more than 2 million hits. The rest are not far behind, viewed by the hundreds of thousands. Rofil says they have upgraded from camera phone to a Nokia N73; and that he now edits on a new Acer laptop.

James notes that there are currently 7,400 subscribers to Moymoy?s YouTube account; these are the ones who spread the word. But who really are the guys behind Momoy Palaboy?

James, who turns 25 on July 17, was the male lead vocalist in a cover band, Passionista, which regularly performs here and abroad. James has been to Japan and Malaysia with the band, which is due to leave next week for a stint in Singapore. He opted not to join this time around, because Moymoy Palaboy has just been offered two hot gigs on cable and free TV.

Rofil, 22, describes himself as ?a nerd, the researcher? who loves to play computer games and tinker with electronic gadgets.

The brothers went to the same public elementary and high schools in Pasay where they were born. For college, they attended the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. James, a Broadcacting major, dropped out to find a job and help his mother, who was stricken with breast cancer. (She died in 2006.) Rofil finished a Business Management course and now works as an in-house sales rep in PLDT.

Fastfood roots

Before becoming a band singer, James sweated it out as a fast food attendant. One day he auditioned for ABS-CBN?s ?Star in a Million? singing contest, running into Christian Bautista and asking him for directions. The way James narrates how he fared sounds as funny as any Moymoy video: ?Binigyan ako ng card , number 3 raw ako. Pina-line up kami? nung tinatawag na isa-isa?1, 2, biglang lumaktaw, 4 agad. Hindi ako natawag. Kailangan pala du?n pogi ka??

James may look as ordinary as the neighborhood bums in Pasay, but it?s the least of his worries now. Moymoy Palaboy has crossed over to mainstream television, joining GMA 7?s ?Bubble Gang? where it reprises its gags in the segment, ?Iyo Tube.? It is also set to have its own short segments on MTV Philippines.

GMA and MTV wanted Moymoy so bad, they both offered the duo a talent management contract. The two giant networks are now Moymoy?s management partners.

Invitations to guest on other TV stations have been turned down, for now, to preserve the mystique and cult appeal of a music-driven act whose real voices are not heard.

The brothers are overwhelmed by the diversity of fans who regularly communicate with them on the Net. ?Maraming taga-Mexico, meron din sa Colombia, UK, US lalo na sa California, at Canada,? says James.

Just last Saturday, he adds, an American member of the audience at Bedrock, where Passionista was playing, approached James and said his brother was a ?big fan.? He introduced himself as John Cetera, and said his brother was Peter Cetera of the 1970s pop-rock group Chicago (who, it turned out, was also in town, incognito).

The Obeso brothers have added several communication lines because the fans have been engaging in discussions on the following social-networking sites: Multiply, Facebook, MySpace and Friendster. ?Napilitan kami, kasi ?pag Ginoogle mo ang Moymoy Palaboy, maglalabasan sa mga sites na yan,? says Rofil.

How do they choose which song to spoof? ?Depende sa trip,? James replies. ?At kung ano ang gusto ng tao,? Rofil adds. ?Yung ?Low? at Soulja Boy, request ng fans.?

As Moymoy Palaboy breaches its 15-minute brush with fame, the brothers are nonchalant about the prospects of getting rich. ?Kung ano kami dati, ganito pa rin naman kami,? Rofil says. ?Basta ako,? James quips, ?nakahubad pa rin sa kanto.?

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