“The King Of Pop and I”
(AEP Publishing – 2020)
Any book project related to Michael Jackson can spark my interest and by this statement I will have the opportunity to express all the nuances and subtleties of a subject that is dear to me. In my work as an author, I have tried to stay focused on the artist’s music because it is in this process that I feel I am the most legitimate. However, my aspirations as a reader have evolved over time and that’s how I opened myself to other areas related to the King of Pop. I couldn’t restrain myself anymore in my exploration of this rich universe, since it is so vast. I am aware that my reflection on this subject must not remain frozen.
That’s how I enjoyed the book “Remember The Time” by Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard who were the King of Pop’s bodyguards from 2006 to 2009. As soon as it was released, I read very good reviews of their accounts, but it took me a long time to take the plunge, at first, since I was reluctant to step into the field of the singer’s private life. In the end, it was a nice surprise and I had the feeling that I got a better understanding of the torments and difficulties Michael Jackson experienced at the end of his life. Moreover, it provided many information to get a better vision of the artist, which could inspire me for a writing subject. This is why I didn’t hesitate to start reading the book “The King Of Pop and I” by Aileen Medalla which has some similarities with Bill and Javon’s book. It’s true that just like bodyguards, Aileen, as an employee, testifies to her illustrious boss. As the teacher of the star’s children, her role was inevitably different, but her book covers the same period as “Remember The Time”, which offers some kind of echo between both books.
It is true that the 2000s were not very fruitful for Michael Jackson in the artistic field. If I am ever tempted to tackle this era, I could read up on it and get some answers to explain why the man was not able to fully express himself as an artist at that time, especially since it was in his role as a father that the King of Pop wanted to get himself a sense of fulfillment. It is precisely in this context that Aileen Medalla recounts her experience with Michael Jackson as his children’s teacher. The man then supplanted the artist and definitely aspired to take a step back from the rhinestones and glitter of show business. It is in this phase of reconstruction, after the ordeal of a trial that had destroyed him despite his acquittal, that Michael, then exiled in Bahrain, integrated the author into his staff.
It was then the beginning of an itinerary to multiple destinations such as France, Ireland and Las Vegas. In a kind of professional deformation, the author takes pleasure in telling us the story of these destinations chosen by the King of Pop. We then feel that she is grateful to him for having been able to live this experience, as if the world had become more accessible and less vast, not without appreciating all its richness and being aware through her profession that a trip is a beautiful lesson in life. Aileen expresses all her gratitude, without forgetting to illustrate the generosity of her boss. We have the feeling that this staff was a real family because, through her quality work, Aileen was rewarded and accepted. As Prince, Paris and Blanket’s teacher, the author discusses Michael’s relationship with his children, an aspect so little known and overlooked for a long time. However, everything is developed with respect, without getting into the field of tabloids. It is true that the teacher likes to remind us how much her boss hated these types of magazines. This time, the man that Michael Jackson was is presented, although this realistic vision unfortunately has few echoes in the press. It is therefore good to salute Aileen Medalla’s approach. So I wanted to ask her a few questions in order to document my review and I thank her for agreeing to talk to me.
First, can you tell us how you had a vocation to become a teacher and pass on knowledge to pupils?
Teaching is a vocation I wanted to pursue early on in my career. I love children and teaching them has always been a passion of mine. I yearn to take part in motivating and inspiring young learners. That’s why I became a teacher. Children amaze me in many ways – full of ideas, so curious about everything, and they possess a great joie de vivre. Helping them channel their enthusiasm into something positive is what I love to do.
What incited you to write about your professional experience with Michael Jackson and his children in a book?
The book is primarily to open the eyes and hearts of the people about the real Michael Jackson. It aims to counteract the negative narratives that have been going on for decades. I want the people to know who he was as a father, a boss, and a regular person.
Additionally, I want to convey a message to my readers. To show how hope and faith helped me in my journey. They can take away whatever they can from my story. I had my fair share of struggles in a foreign land but never gave up. If I had left and returned to the Philippines straight away, I would never have met Mr. Jackson.
In the same way now, despite the challenging conditions we face globally, we should never lose hope. May the readers believe that this will all come to pass and better days are coming. The most important thing is to not quit because the year is just unfolding and there is so much more in store for all of us.
My story can happen to anybody. It may not be working for a celebrity but it could be meeting incredible people who will change their life just like Mr. Jackson changed mine.
You are telling about your travels, describing the places and their history. Was it important for you to keep teaching while you were writing?
My book is a travel memoir. Naturally, I will be bringing the readers with me in my journey across the globe. A little history on the side could greatly help my readers visualize and learn more about the places we’ve been to. It is also my intention to let them feel that they are in the same place as me or with Mr. Jackson while reading the book. For instance, my readers in the Philippines who haven’t traveled to France will know why I was so determined to wait and go up The Eiffel Tower despite the scorching heat of summer. By describing the place and giving a bit of the history of the tower, the readers will get to understand and at the same time feel my excitement at that particular moment.
Imagine Michael Jackson could read your book, what would you wish his reaction to your writing be like?
I wish he would be happy. If only I could send my book to heaven via UPS or FEDEX, then I would. I would love Mr. Jackson to read every page of my book so he would know how grateful I was and still am for everything. ‘The King of Pop and I’ is my tribute to him. I want to immortalize his legendary kindness through my book.
Have traveling to a lot of countries and interacting with Michael Jackson changed your vision of the world and maybe your personality?
The experiences I have had greatly influenced who I am today. Through traveling, I came to understand and respect various cultural differences. It gave me the opportunity to see issues and daily life challenges from a different angle. I must admit that before working for Mr. Jackson, I was a little naive. I was so sheltered in my box. I was never out of my comfort zone. When I started working for the family, and with all the traveling, I became more mature and independent. Constantly shuttling from one continent to another and connecting with different people from different cultures helped me grow as a teacher and as a person.
How did you come up with the idea of writing a letter to each of Michael Jackson’s children as a conclusion to the book?
I believe that the Open Letter is the best way to end my memoir. It is to reminisce about the wonderful childhood memories of the children with their father. If they get a chance to read my book, I would love to see them smile and happily recall all those great memories when they were still young. Unquestionably, those days were priceless because they are considered to be Mr. Jackson’s final days with them.
Would you like to contact them again, even only occasionally?
Certainly. I would be happy to contact them if given the chance. I miss the children so much. No matter how old they get they will always be my “angels.” They have grown to be beautiful (inside and out) individuals and I am extremely proud of them. Honestly, I still pray for them each night that they would be protected from harm and be surrounded by good people. I genuinely wish them nothing but the best in their chosen fields.
While writing the book, have some forgotten memories emerged?
Writing the book brings back heaps of memories. It helps that I still have my journal which I keep up to this day. I have a list of the places we’ve been to, the dates of our travels, the activities on a particular day, and even the food I ordered at the restaurants. Also, I still have with me the notes, letters, luggage tags, airline tickets, and other memorabilia from Mr. Jackson and the children. These treasured possessions of mine keep reminding me of the beautiful moments with the family.
What has your personal and professional life been since that experience?
I am now living a quiet and peaceful life here in Cebu. A life that is very far from what I used to have with the Jacksons. The once hectic and on-the-move life is now replaced with a relaxed and simplified one. I am contented with my life now. I don’t travel as much as before but we manage to go out of the Philippines once a year and visit different countries to let my son see the world as well.
Does it remain the most memorable landmark in your career?
Absolutely, working for Mr. Jackson remains to be the most memorable and most precious landmark in my career. An experience I am truly grateful for.