Some Filipino talents don’t get the recognition they deserve until they make heads turn abroad and news of it reaches home. I recall the late Arthur Manuntag somewhat lament over the fact he experienced more appreciation singing in front of foreign audiences than doing it here. He told me that when I interviewed him at the Hardrock Cafe in Makati and over some not-cheap wine he brought.
You bet I felt glad when I saw him featured on a primetime local newscast which tackled his exploits elsewhere.
So it’s natural for me to relate such matter to the apparent rising star of one named Marvin Velasquez whose singing talent is arguably more embraced outside the Philippines.
A few days ago, he was declared Recording Artist of the Year during the Side Projects Music Awards held at FM Bar, Shepherds Bush, London. The trophy was given on the strength of his recordings for songs “Limelights,” which is included in a compilation dubbed Seryoso Po Kami released late last year, and “Tabing Dagat” written by the talent-managing songwriter Erasmo Mallillin.
Velasquez is a native of Talugtog, Nueva Ecija and currently based in Metro Manila. Through invites from contacts, he flies in to London from time to time for singing engagements. Over time he has gotten quite a following from the Filipino community there. He has performed in neighboring Asian lands, including Singapore and Hong Kong.
“I wish to make people happy through singing,” he once said, having devoted himself to propagating the bossa nova genre.
Another of his tracks, “Mambo,” “Samba,” “Cha-cha” attests to that inclination as some of his supporters already dubbed him Bossa Nova Prince. Titles matter these days and he must be taking it to his advantage.
A couple of years ago, I witnessed live the strength of Marvin’s voice after watching him at a concert in Teatrino, Greenhills. His diaphragm-singing surely attracts, and it’s not surprising that he triumphed in a contest at age 14 and in later years got good exposure at Star Quest and Star in a Million.
As often the case, he struggled during his younger days and even lost a dear one in his quest for singing glory. Thus, he also wrote a personally vital song called “Pusong Bigo.”
In a recent Facebook post, he related, “Naaalala ko ang struggles ko bago ako grumadweyt noon sa kolehiyo.” Then he segued to his flight to victory: “I must say hindi na lamang ang aking ‘INA’ at pamilya ang tanging kong tagahanga ngayon. Pati na rin sa ibat-ibang panig ng mundo.”
Earlier this year he spearheaded Awit Ng Tanghalan Season 1, which held its grand finals at Historia bar, Q.C. won by 24-year-old Dan Ezekiel Sajul and tween Arm Angel Ruiz.
Today, Marvin returns to London’s FM bar where he is again expected to do his live cover version of that song “...sa ilalim ng puting ilaw.”
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