Jay Kent, Rachel Gabreza and Micah Baybay maybe little known among their compatriots, but these trio of singers have made the Philippines proud in various singing contests in Europe.
Kent, a singer/songwriter from Angeles City, impressed the judges at the 2018 Euro Pop Contest Grand Prix Berliner Perle.
Grabeza, an eight-time defending champion of “Tawag ng Tanghalan” in It’s Showtime on ABS-CBN also wowed the judges at the 2018 Stars of the Albion in London. She went home with the Grand Prix.
Baybay who is known by her professional name as Micah Jane, also a singer/songwriter, assured Filipinos their talent in singing wouldn’t be left unrecognized in Malta when she bested other contestants from across the world at the 2018 Arpeggio International Singing Competition in Valetta.
At a recent gathering where Maria Rosario L Vega, or simply Charie, owner/manager of Vega Entertainment Productions, official partner in Asia of the three competitions (among others), introduced the singers to members of the entertainment media, it was evident that the singing champions were still looking for their rightful place on the local music scene.
They said the ability to belt or “birit,” isn’t the sole measure of being a good singer. Proof of that, they asserted, was the prizes they brought home despite the fact that they are not “biriteras” and sang exactly how they felt their vocal ranges allowed. And they said it was a great privilege to carry the Philippine flag in those competitions.
“I can’t belt, and I don’t even try,” underscored Kent, who performed “Infinity,” a song he wrote that won for him the grand prix at the 2018 Euro Pop Singing Contest in Berlin, Germany. “I just write or perform songs in a way that makes people feel how I feel.”
“That’s how I wish to distinguish myself [from other singers],” added the 17-year-old artist, whose sound leans more toward pop. “But I don’t want to box myself in a specific genre, especially since I’m still young. I want to switch it up and experiment.”
Gabreza performs “diva or birit” songs herself. But facing a largely European audience, she learned that taste in musicc varies around the world.
“When they see or hear someone good, they really show their appreciation—whether or not the person can belt,” she said. “I actually have some background in classical singing, but I do “birit” pieces in contests. But there are already a lot of divas out there. I want to be successful in my own way.”
Micah, Jane, on the other hand, adds soulful touches to her singing. “I have always been musically inclined and exposed to different artists. I find that my voice is better-suited for soul, so I try to go that route,” she said.
She also continues to hone her guitar playing and songwriting skills, which she believes will help her in the long run, as she pursues a career on the local music scene.
While the idea of being in international competitions was daunting at first for the three singers, their worries were eventually replaced by pride after emerging triumphant.
“It feels good, but nerve-wracking at the same time, because you’re not just representing yourself, but the country,” related Kent, “But I just worked on my minus one, produced the music. And I practiced, practiced and practiced even more.”
Micah was once on the verge of quitting music to help run her family’s business. Luckily, this opportunity presented itself.
“I couldn’t believe it. I kept asking myself, ‘Do I deserve this? Am I the right person to be here?’ There was pressure, but I enjoyed the competition. It’s surreal—this was a dream come true. And to think I was this close to giving up on it,” she said.
Gabreza said she was, at first, intimidated by the European contestants. “I know that they have a rich music culture. And when I heard some of them singing classical music, I thought, ‘Kaya ko ba ’to?’” she recalled. “But it was a big privilege for the three of us,” Rachel added, “to be able to carry our flag in Europe.”
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MTRCB, NCCA agree to promote film industry
The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) and the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) formalized its partnership on Jan.16 through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) symbolic of both of the agencies’ commitment to promote the growth and development of the Philippine movie industry as a viable source of fueling the national economy.
As a product of the MOU, films that are endorsed by NCCA’s National Committee on Cinema (NCCinema) will receive 70 percent discount on their MTRCB permit. Furthermore, through the MOU, NCCA is enabled to facilitate and issue Exhibition Permits in all NCCA-funded film festivals and other NCCA supported public screenings applicable for exemption.
Led by MTRCB Chief, Hon. Maria Rachel J. Arenas and National Artist and Chairperson of NCCA, Virgilio Almario, the new alliance intends to encourage Filipino producers and filmmakers to produce films of national relevance.
In return, MTRCB encouraged the members of the NCCA to hold Compliance Seminars (i.e. Matalinong Panonood Seminar) to its stakeholders to further propagate adherence of the industry with both of the agencies respective rules and regulations and goals.
The MOU signing event was held at Nida Blanca Conference Room, MTRCB Building, No. 18 Timog Avenue, Diliman Quezon City. Present in the signing were Board Members, Atty. Jeremiah Jaro and OIC-Executive Director Atty. Ann Marie Nemenzo. From the NCCA, Commissioner for the Arts and NCCinema Head Teddy Co, Vice head of NCCinema, Jose Antonio Garcia, Independent Cinema Sector of NCCinema and film director, Baby Ruth Villarama, Assistant Secretary of NCCinema, Elvert Bañares, Mainstream Sector Archi Adamos, Film and Exhibition & Distribution Sector, Vicente Nebrida, Luzon representative of NCCinema, Rosanni Sarile, and Joel Arthur Tibaldo, IP representative, were also present.
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