A trip to Palawan a new Whitney Houston discovered
PORT BARTON, PALAWAN: Among a people who love to sing, smile and dance – and mostly happy and positive – a music producer appears. “Smiley” could hardly found a better place. He landed in Palawan among myriads of islands in the Philippines. To get the whole story of Geir Tosaunet from Norway, you should have more than 60 seconds available. A book would definitely fit in better.
Beaches at sunset
In the small seaside town of Port Barton on the island of Palawan, I met “Smiley”. More precisely, at a small resort I followed the sound of live songs made world famous by Whitney Houston. And there I met “Smiley” and a very young singer practising well-known songs. Geir Tosaunet, his real name, is the only Norwegian who has been stranded here for years.
A tropic night
After partly living in Boracay and this area for 20 years, Geir is well qualified to give tips and advice on vacationing by the seaside. And he knows a lot about music, he knows how to play guitar, and teaching a young Filipina.
This melodic moment in a tropic night came up like a stolen moment from golden years with superstar Whitney. I didn´t expect to hear such a powerful voice, the distinct and memorable singing range by any, surely not by such a young girl. Her version of “Saving All My Love For You” will be saved in my ears for long time to come.
A Whitney experiences
The real reason why Geir appeared on Palawan was far more exciting than beaches and sunsets. The artist, musician and music producer has found a singing talent out of the ordinary. 13-year-old Bella was discovered three years ago when she sang songs by Whitney Houston at a restaurant. Then came the wave of Covid-19 and everything was postponed.
“At that time Bella was only 10 years old, and it was an even more unique and impressive experience because she was so young,” says Geir. Now back in the girl´s hometown to make an agreement with Bella and her parents in order to launch the talent as an artist.
“I recommend Palawan with powder sand beaches, magical sunset, clear sea water and unique experiences,” “Smilye” said. Even though, the most unique skill came out of his young singing-star to be.
Will open Resort
In the Philippines, typhoons are a persistent danger, and in December 2021, Rai, or Odette struck Port Barton with a significant damage. It severely disrupting the livelihoods of vulnerable farmers, fishers and the tourist business.
Some small hotels and guesthouses have opened, others are waiting for people who want to bring this seaside village back to top standard, Geir came across a property by the beach containing two main houses and some cabins for rent.
“I would like to open a restaurant and bar here, that could happen in the end of 2022”, he said. Geir previously was in charge of a small resort on Carabao, a neighbouring island to the more famous Boracay. On Boracay, he ended up 20 years ago in connection with a job as an artist, and for years he rarely looked back.
Have you been anywhere else in the world?
“I’ve been to the United States, and many visits all over the Caribbean. I love American music, and especially Johnny Cash. And I like Las Vegas, but first and foremost I enjoy my home town in Norway, preferably in the summer. Most of the year I’m on the go, as an artist in Norway and as often in the Philippines»
Advice for tourists
“The best tip for holidays in the Philippines is that tourists should make more effort and get to know the locals. The vast majority of Filipinas speaks good English. Palawan has many small gems not listed in all tourist brochures. Here El Nido is a famous starting point for trips to 40 islands, while the typical tourist island of Boracay with 700 hotels is something completely different»
This Province has stunning beaches and more fun in the Philippines.
“Smilye” is a man never giving up – “I won’t back down”.
From Cash to Bella
Live gigs and ongoing Johnny Cash shows in Norway, great interest in food, art and 50 guitars in Norway and the Philippines. In short, this is the life of “Smilye”. He is not like other tourists. Actually, he is not a tourist at all. He works as a music producer for several artists, and now has a potential international star like Bella soon to be launched.
In 60 seconds, you have become acquainted with a person who is not sitting still. On the other hand, it seems that Geir follows a moment’s command from a well-known Johnny Cash chorus: “I won’t back down”. No wonder the Norwegian keep on smiling.