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Elvis Honored in Manila on Anniversary of His Death

  • Ira Mellman

Monday marked the 33rd anniversary of the death of U.S. pop singer Elvis Presley. His life was celebrated half a world away.

It might sound like Las Vegas, but this gathering of studded bell bottom pants, long sideburns and blue suede shoes took place Sunday in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Chito Bertol is founder of the Elvis Presley Friendship Club:

"To us, Elvis was the greatest," said Chito Bertol. "No one can compare as Elvis. When Elvis was gone, we have to continue. We have to continue."

Twenty-two contestants representing a few generations belted out the Elvis classics ranging from 73-year-old Walter Perez, who earns extra income from his Elvis impersonations to Christian Angping who, at the age of 14, was born well after the death of Elvis and found Elvis watching You-Tube videos:

"It's unique," said Christian Angping. "His voice is unique, because nobody else sounds like him nowadays."

There was one foreigner in the competition, cement company executive Eddie Lombardo, who grew up in Sydney, Australia impersonating the singer nicknamed "The King:"

"You have to get the essence of Elvis out," said Eddie Lombardo. "You have to get into the mood of Elvis and the way he sang the song, the way he put the feelings into the song. I mean anybody can sing a song, but you have to put [in] the feelings."

Eddie apparently did just that:

Eddie Lombardo tied for first place with fellow businessman Jun Espinosa for the 20,000 - peso first prize. The Elvis Presley Friendship Club is growing rapidly, and counts partner clubs across Asia.