By Alex P. Vidal
VANCOUVER, Canada — With the skyrocketing popularity of his only son, 12-year-old Nhemy J.J “Wonder Boy of British Columbia” Cepeda, Jr., many experts here believe it’s only a matter of time before Nemecio “Mang Nemy” Sr., 68, and son will achieve stardom in music and entertainment world.
Filipino-Canadian junior Cepeda has been chosen as the lone teen singer from Canada to perform in a big celebrity concert for leukemia to be showcased by the world’s most popular and leading recording artists led by Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez in Times Square, New York on April 23 this year.
The young singing sensation from Surrey, a main-stay in the “FYE (For Your Entertainment) Live,” Vancouver’s version of ABS-CBN’s “ASAP,” is being supervised hands-on by his parents, Hannah Domingo, and the senior citizen Cepeda; but the father, a retired military officer in the Philippines, who served in Vietnam War, is touted to be a “disciplinarian” father who wields “iron hands” on his son to ensure that the singer, who has evolved into an all-around musician (he now plays piano like a professional singer), does not skip practice sessions “or else.”
This early, observers have already seen some similarities between Cepeda Sr. and the late popstar Michael Jackson’s father, Joseph “Joe”, whose image as a father became tarnished from the late 1980s onward, as the media reported stories told by his children that he was heavily abusive toward them. When he managed his family, he allegedly ordered each of them to call him “Joseph”, which contributed to several siblings being estranged from their father. Joseph is also alleged to have engaged in several extramarital affairs; two affairs resulted in the birth of two other daughters, Tawanda and Joh’vonnie, born in 1972 and 1974, respectively.
Q: How do you see J.J. 10 years from now?
A: I hope I will live that long to see him reap the fruits that we have planted today. He will go places, for sure.
Q: Are you a tough father?
A: I love my son. That’s it.
Q: How do you feel when some people compare you to Joe Jackson?
A: Joe Jackson is a good father. If he is evil as what most fans of Michael Jackson have been trying to portray him, do you think Michael Jackson would become who he was? Micheal Jackson owed his success to his father whatever the critics of his father have been saying about the old man.
Q: Michael Jackson claimed that from a young age he was physically and emotionally abused by his father, enduring incessant rehearsals, whippings and name-calling, but also admitting that his father’s strict discipline played a large part in his success. Do you do the same to J.J.?
A: As I said, I love my son. No father in his right mind in this world will do something to his son that will ruin his son and the name of the family.