“We believe in the Filipino talent,” says Rey Fortaleza, publisher of the ReyFort Media Group. “We are proud of the global achievements of our Filipino artists... singers like Lea Salonga, Charice Pempengco, Maria Aragon and many others...”
This pride and his belief in the global appeal of the Filipino talent has inspired Fortaleza and his people to develop the PNT Singing Idol competitions.
And what a huge pool of talent there was in the Broadway Church hall that night, starting with the youngest talent of them all, three-year old guest singer and past PNT Bulilit Champion Angel Lumayag, who strode into the stage dressed in a pink frothy tutu, pink boots and sequined pink hat. Lumayag performed MacArthur Park, a golden oldie that came out in the 60s, decades before Angel was even a gleam in her parents’ eye.
When three-year-old Lumayag hit the refrain, head tilted back, singing “I don’t think that I can take it, ‘cause it took so long to bake it, and I’ll never have the recipe again...” she held the notes at “OH NO...” then arms stretched, followed it with a full-body shiver. People were cheering, clapping and practically rolling down the aisles, and you could feel the whole cute factor bursting through the roof.
Another guest performer of note was 11-year-old JJ Cepeda, champion of BC Junior Talent and Surrey City Singing Contest for 2010, and known as the Filipino community’s ‘Wonder Boy’. Cepeda serenaded the crowd with an amazing style and confidence rarely seen on an eleven-year-old.
The contest itself was sub-divided into three age categories, Adult, Teen and Kids, a logical classification that took into account the emotional and voice maturity level of the different contestants. Each singer was judged on the quality of their voice and diction, stage presence, and the entertainment value of their performance. People were informed that the judges’ decisions were final. y Pavino - a Filipino-American artist from Seattle, Washington: multi-awarded singer and performer, a graduate of the Cornish College of the Arts and Opera; and known to the Washington media as Seattle’s Asian-American Premier Pop Balladeer.
The local judges line-up were a bunch of overachievers themselves: Socorro Newland – talent manager, former member of the band The Hall of Fame and owner of It’s All About You, a company that specializes in fashion and entertainment styling, stage-performance coaching and professional make-up artistry.
Luisa Marshall – internationally acclaimed rock and roll tribute artist, who has performed all around the world and won the World Rock and Roll Tribute Artist Championship by doing a Tina Turner. Marshall also impersonates Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga and Donna Summer. Her shows have consistently earned spectacular reviews all over the world; Aileen de la Cruz – formally trained in vocals and in classical piano; a former member and soloist with the internationally famous Amadeus Children’s Choir; currently a writer for the Cymba Music Publishing and has worked with various well-known music producers and musicians that include TOXIC, Hipjoint Productions, Hedley, Loverboy and others.
The judges sat facing the stage and watched and listened to every number, while the tabulators sat across them on the other side of the room. After every performance, a designated volunteer collected the score sheets and took them to the tabulators, Lizza Wong and Vilma Yparraguirre, who in turn tallied the numbers and entered them into their laptop. At the end of the show, the results were stuffed into a huge brown envelope and taken backstage, and the tense wait for the results ensued.
There weren’t any surprises when the names of the winners were announced. Although all the contestants were uniformly talented and the quality of their singing voices amazing, some performances stood out more than others.Winners in the Adult category: Sir Joseph Lasiste, with his song Go the Distance, along with his Mario Lopes dimples and winning moves, took the first place trophy. Phebe Jacobson placed second with Cry Baby, while Frances Villanueva came in third with Better Days.
Teens: Hanna Balba, 14, won first place in the Teens category with a flawless performance reminiscent of Beyonce’s, singing I Got Rhythm. Irene Lumayag, also 14, won second place with I Am Telling You, and Amie de Guzman, 17, got third place with What Kind of Fool Am I.Kids: Chantel Cruz, nine years old, won first place with her incredibly big-girl singing voice, performing the song A House Is Not a Home. Jaeden Casapao, also nine, captured the audience’s attention and the second place trophy with his air-guitar-playing skills and a rousing rendition of Separate Ways. Andrea Legaspi touched hearts with I Surrender and cornered the third place.It was 11 pm by the time all the trophies and awards were handed out and the photos were taken, but nobody wanted to leave. The party just kept on going. The ReyFort Media Group had just hosted a big successful event. Publisher Rey Fortaleza was profuse in expressing his gratitude to all the parties that helped make it happen: to the volunteers, to the judges and the contestants; to the guest performers, and to the companies that sponsored it: GMA Pinoy TV, I-Remit, Tom Lee Music. As well, to LBC Cargo , Coffee King Plus, LBC and the Filipino Canadian Marketing Group.