Back on a High Note
Photo by Shekinah Danong
Himig Pinoy returned yesterday in the Rudolf Rahmann Cultural Center in USC – South Campus. Representatives from the primary, secondary and tertiary schools serenaded the audience with original Filipino ballads. The contestants competed in solos with their own year levels, with the exception of the tertiary schools, who had representatives for a separate duet category.
The first to perform were the two contestants from the primary levels, followed by the junior and senior high schools. Solo performances from the representatives from the different tertiary schools came after, and the duet teams were the last to perform.
The contestants were chosen through auditions in their respective schools. Most of them had been informed of their acceptance into the competition and began their training a month before. However, Nech Michelle Tuazon representing SAFAD in the solo competition had only been informed two weeks before she was set to perform and was even too sick to practice much. She did not even have the support of her family who were in Mindanao to hear her sing Kundiman by Silent Sanctuary, which was a song she had to think twice about. Fortunately for her, she had prior training in classical singing back in Mindanao and is currently a member of SAFAD GLEE Club. Despite that, winning the grand prize for the solo category completely took her by surprise.
Similarly, Khelly Villarin, who represented senior high’s North Campus, was also taken aback by her win. Although she was one of the lucky many who were able to prepare a month prior, unlike Tuazon, she had no solid experience in solo competitions. In fact, the last time she recalled having competed solo was in second grade, and in junior high, she was heavily reliant on her fellow choir members to give her courage on stage and to cover up for her mistakes.
Villarin only even found out about Himig Pinoy from her PE teacher who looked for volunteers in her class and signed up on a whim. From the beginning, she already knew she would be giving her rendition of Angeline Quinto’s Ikaw Lamang because she had always thought to herself that this would be the song she’d sing if she ever joined any singing competition because of its range and the message of the song. She said that the intended recipient already knows it was for them.
She did not go into Himig Pinoy competitive or prepared to fight. The voices of the other performers blew her away even during rehearsals and the thought of winning did not cross her mind once. It was the support of her family and friends that drove her to give it her all and then some more, which, to her surprise, allowed her to win the grand prize for the senior high school category. Those friends and family who believed in her flocked to the stage as soon as they were allowed to and fought each other for a photo with Villarin.
The winning pair for the duet category were likewise uncertain about how they would place. One half of the pair already suffered a loss as part of SBE’s cheer dance team. However, Jan Echavarria refused to let that loss be the first domino in a series. Cheer dance is only his hobby; his real passion is in singing. On top of constantly practicing for the competition for a whole month, he and his partner, Ivy Felongco, were also previously trained in the Center for Pop. SBE’s pair has been singing since they were kids and the experience they shared contributed to their harmony in delivering a powerful piece with Hanggang Ngayon, a song they choice because of its wide range.
It was by coincidence that the pair of friends were SBE’s chosen representatives. Only Echavarria intended to audition. However, he found Felongco lounging nearby just when he realized he had no pair to sing with and dragged her along for the ride.
Echavarria and Tuazon are both ready and open to more competitions and performances. On top of the grand prizes they received, they were given exposure and recognition to and by the different personalities from the Cebuano music scene who acted as the night’s judges. In fact, Tuazon had already been approached by one of the judges for a deal, although she did not disclose any of the details.