Colon, Jones, Magallanes, and Arlington Pond—these are some of the familiar street names gracing the landscape of Cebu. Each one bears the legacy of influential foreigners who left their mark on the nation, and even the world.
Considering the Philippines’ long history of colonization, it’s not surprising that we find these street names in our cities—a reminder of the diverse tapestry of cultures and influences that have shaped our nation over the centuries.
But have you ever wondered if there are streets abroad named in honor of Filipinos, particularly someone with Cebuano roots? It’s a fascinating thought, and indeed, there is such a street! While our streets in the Philippines often bear the names of foreign dignitaries and explorers, there are instances when the world recognizes the contributions and significance of Filipinos, even outside our borders.
Pilita Street: In Honor of the Great Dame of Victorian Radio and Television
In this instance, we proudly highlight a street named after a Filipina, specifically someone with Cebuano heritage, in a foreign land. This story showcases not only her remarkable achievements but also the enduring impact of Filipino culture and talent worldwide. It’s a testament to the global reach of our people and their enduring legacy beyond our shores: meet Pilita Corrales.
Hailing from the vibrant city of Cebu, Pilar Garrido Corrales embarked on a transformative journey in pursuit of her passion for music. After completing her studies at the prestigious Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion in Cebu City, Pilita set her sights on further refining her musical talents by venturing to Spain for advanced music training.
The year 1958 marked the auspicious beginning of her recording career, which unfolded in the captivating landscapes of Australia. It was in this far-off land that Pilita Corrales etched her name in history, achieving a remarkable milestone as the first woman to grace the Australian pop charts with her recording of “Come Closer to Me”—long before Helen Reddy, Olivia Newton-John and Kylie Minogue.
This pivotal moment opened doors to the Victoria Television circuit, where her first hit, ‘Come Closer to Me’, became a part of the collection, cementing her status as one of the “Grand Dames of Victorian Radio and Television”—a title that honored her a street name in the ‘70s in the Forest Hill district of Victoria.
Captivating audiences with her repertoire of English, Spanish, and Filipino melodies, Pilita Corrales left an indelible mark on the music scene. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, she crafted at least three remarkable LPs under the renowned banner of Astor Records.
In a significant moment, Pilita shared the stage with several pioneering female artists in Australia, a testament to her standing in the music industry. This memorable occasion unfolded during the second episode of the highly acclaimed TV special “Love is in the Air,” produced by the Australia Broadcasting Corporation, further solidifying her legacy as a distinguished artist.
In the mid-1960s, Pilita decided to return to the Philippines and pursue a career in the country’s music industry, and up until today, she remains one of the icons who have helped shape the music and entertainment industries—even in Australia, with her latest engagement in 2015, where Australians still recognize her as one of the luminaries of their generation.
More recently, she graced the screens in the Netflix film “Ikaw,” where she shared the spotlight with her granddaughter, Janine Gutierrez.
Indeed, Pilita Corrales stands as a living testament to the enduring power of talent, dedication, and a passion for music. Her journey from Cebu to international acclaim, her pioneering contributions to the music industry, and her ability to bridge cultural divides have cemented her as an enduring icon, inspiring generations of artists and captivating audiences around the world—worthy of being honored with a street name abroad, and hopefully here in the Philippines.