My mother sings and dances, while my father plays the guitar, sings and writes songs. I have not yet met my biological father personally, but my mother told me stories about his guitar-playing ability and how the two of them would sing together; and when I was born (until the age of two), my father and I would sing songs we wrote together.
Growing up in a religiously conservative community in the Philippines, it was confusing how other children had a set of parents when I didn’t. This made me long to connect to him.
By the age of four, my mother and I were walking in the mall and I told her, “I need that.” My mum looked at me confused and said, “that’s a guitar, you don’t even know how to play it,” and I told her, “I will learn.”
My mother invested into the Philippine hand-made guitar we saw that day. I learnt to play on my own through books and fiddling with the instrument. I loved the sound of the strings when my fingers would strum and I would just sing – sing about what sadness or anger I felt in the day, sing about anything that came to mind, sing with my eyes closed to feel from my heart and soul.
By the time I was about 10, my mother invested into a singing teacher named Daisy Ba-ad, and we practised together after-school and on weekends. At this age, I sang opera like my great-grandmother, specifically Think of Me from the Phantom of the Opera. But once I hit 13 years old, I no longer had that voice, so instead I explored Florence and the Machine, the 4-non Blondes, Stevie Nicks, Janis Joplin, Macy Gray, Aretha Franklin, Tracy Chapman, Joss Stone and Amy Winehouse.
During my awkward pre-teen stage I participated in the school choir, but felt buillied by the other girls because they had a Beyonce singing-style that I didn’t.
Thanks to the encouragement of Mr. Joel Cruz (now String M-Theory on YouTube), I managed to gather the courage to join the School Musical plays and each year, I participated because I always enjoyed the bustle and hustle rehearsing dances with the whole cast led by Mrs. Adela Alguno, singing with the orchestra and memorizing lines. When you have that pressure of being part of a team, you do not want to let them down, so you work hard to balance your responsibilities between academics, the musicals and sports.
I earned the leading role for the Cebu International School’s Musical Production, the Pirates of the Currybean, and that was a joyful day for me.
My mother has always been very supportive when it comes to music because to sing and play an instrument at the same time, is a lot of work and presence in the moment so she helped me earn opportunities to sing and perform at restaurants in Cebu, City, Philippines. My mother is my music manager.
It was very common in the Philippines people cover songs performed by established artists. Somehow, Filipinos are bred to perform, even inmates at Philippine prisons are encouraged to dance their stress, anxieties and worries away.
For me, music is a sanctuary in my mind. A place of solace to find peace in times of grief, sadness and pain. Music can change your mood in an instant if you are willing to submit and let go. That is why I like to write song and lyrics with my guitar and it has stuck with me throughout my life.
I had some kind of identity crisis after high-school because all of my peers transitioned to university in foreign countries. I decided to stay in the Philippines and accept a radio job and it was my boss at the time, who suggested I join a beauty pageant. This wasn’t the first time someone said this to me. In fact, when I was 14, Miss Jaja Chiongbian-Rama said the same, and so I took a chance and I worked very hard.
Thankfully, I earned the coveted title as Miss Cebu 2016. When stage director, Junjet Primor, and choreographer, Miss Cinbeth Orellano, would ask me to perform at charitable government-organized events to help uplift the spirits of the audience. It brought me so much joy that my performances were appreciated. To share this happiness with others is priceless. Even when I am hired to host an event, and the organizers would like me to also sing and perform, I am happy to welcome this request.
Thanks to these engagements, I finally earned the money I needed to invest into guitar lessons, so I enrolled for only one term at the Brown Music Academy established by the renown singer Anna Fegi. I am still so grateful to learn about the classical guitar from Teacher Anton Solomon, because I discovered more strumming and picking styles that I later incorporated into my music.
Following the beauty queen industry, I decided to make a career by promoting health and wellness because of my own issues. During that time, the owners of the property where I worked were not very supportive of music. They said music is loud and it gives them a headache, so out of respect, I did not sing in their premises, I shied away into my bedroom, and home.
After COVID-19 hit, I had to put a hault on my gym activites. I transitioned from expressing my frustrations under the barbell to back into music.
And now thanks to the internet, I took a chance by joining Universal Music Japan’s online competition, and as of today, January 29, 2021, I am thrilled to share with you six special songs of the many I have written throughout my life.
Listen my songs at any platform found from this link and be sure to follow and like to support my chances towards winning this digital competition. Enjoy!