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Asosasyon ng mga Pilipinong Mang-aawit sa Riyadh


By Robin Magno
Riyadh-Saudi Arabia
November 22, 2017


Asosasyon ng mga Pilipinong Mang-aawit (APM) recently successfully staged Bagong Kampeon 2017 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
It was the 3rd season of the singing competition for OFWs (following Season 1 in 2015 and Season 2 in 2016) and featured 17 contenders from Riyadh and the Eastern region.

This year’s Bagong Kampeon is contender number 6, Reymond Guillena, who belted out Whitney Houston’s “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” thereby besting 16 other singing OFWs who hail from Bulacan to Bohol, from Cebu to Zamboanga del Norte and from Camarines Sur to Lanao del Sur.

For his performance, Reymond, who works as a waiter in one of the Saudi capital’s popular restaurants, was awarded a thousand dollars in cash (including a mock up) and a Riyadh-Manila-Riyadh air ticket (in addition to a mock up as well) courtesy of PAL through its manager for Saudi Arabia, Ricky Pacquing, among many other prizes. Reymond’s runners up are Almira Roa (awarded second place for performing “Hiram”) and Abigail Sendaydiego (awarded third place for singing “Try It On My Own” and also announced as People’s Choice after garnering more than 23,000 likes on facebook).

Reymond’s work as an OFW, and his efforts and hard work to participate in rehearsals and voice coaching sessions right after his work shift and on weekends, exemplify many an OFW’s sacrifices to strike a work-life balance as a worker/professional in these parts – sacrifices which he shares with the other contenders, some of whom still had to travel to the capital from their own places of work in the Eastern region, just to be able to compete well, and for some of them, to fulfill their dreams as a singer/performer.

The competition’s top 5 also include Precioso Revilla (awarded fourth place) and Samuel Paul Sarabia (awarded fifth place). Pres and Sam sang “Impossible Dream” and “Ordinary People”, respectively.

Aside from Reymond, Almira and Abigail were also awarded round trip tickets by PAL while each of the night’s 5 winners received APM plaques, winner trophies and gift cheques for dental services worth a thousand riyals each courtesy of Dr. Elenita Salicubay.

Other songs performed that eventful night which was hosted by Robin Magno at the well-lit but sparingly-designed stage of the Second Philippine International School included OPM Metropop classics “Anak”, “Magsimula Ka”, “May Bukas Pa” and “Bulag, Pipi at Bingi”, popular ditties “Kahit Isang Saglit” and “Hanggang” as well as recent hits “Wag Ka Nang Umiyak”, Himala, and “Magpakailanman”. Other English language songs that made it to the contenders’ choices included “Go The Distance”, When We Were Young and “The Greatest Love of All”.

These songs were sung by the rest of the contenders: Michael Guiuo, Aldrin Mejares, Jerryza Quillpas, Ferdinand Capuyan, Victor Palacio, Alex Balane, Leo de la Cruz, Roldan Escol, James Michael Sy, Chairon Marcelo, Eljie Laquino and Rodel Estrellan.

Each contender was adjudged by a panel of musical experts in their own rights, which included Enrico Valdecantos Abad (noted voice coach), Dennis Cesar Mendoza (seasoned singer/performer), Ronie de Castro (Bagong Kampeon 2015 grand winner), Maritess Mamaclay (Bagong Kampeon 2016 grand winner) and Richard Balgos (multi-awarded singer/performer) and who strictly adhered to a set of criteria that included voice quality (40%; vocal strength and control, pitch, tone, audibility and voice projection), style and artistry (30%; singing technique, presentation of a strong stylistic interpretation making the song his or her own), performance (20%; appearance, stage presence, confidence, facial expression and appropriate body movements), diction (5%; good articulation, pronunciation of words/lyrics with clarity) and audience appeal (5%; ability to captivate the audience and to create impact with his or her performance).

The Riyadh chapter of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), led by its president, Jesse Bryan To, tabulated the judges’ scores.

Before the winners were announced by Enrico Valdecantos Abad, who chaired the panel of judges, the Consul General of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, Iric Arribas, and who graced the event with his family, wished the contenders luck by way of an inspirational message, even as he also praised them for their world-class performances.

An event as noble as Bagong Kampeon would not have been possible without the proverbial village supporting it. For this, APM is eternally grateful for the support of many individuals and groups including Sta. Lucia Land, LM’s Catering Services, HMG Records, Guardians International, 18 Centuries, TFC through JP Aleta, 90.50 Hearts FM, Gerome Lago, Danny Carmen, Carlos Bihag, Ferns Baul as well as ever-reliable APM officials, members, talents/performers, families (most specially the parents) and friends.

Of special mention is APM in the Eastern province led jointly by Francis Caranay (Bagong Kampeon voice coach for the region) and Richard Cabatit (Bagong Kampeon Coordinator for the region) for ably shepherding to success the contenders from the region. Special citation also goes to the helpful production teams behind lights, sounds, stage design and production.

As well, the evening’s event host never forgot to thank the audience – including family and friends of the contenders – who took the time from their weekend plans to show their support for APM and the contest, as well as their passion for the celebration of music. In the era of social media, facebook and Instagram were awash with posts about the contest and its well-received aftermath. From comments, it can be gleaned that the audience enjoyed the evening’s fast-paced and no-nonsense proceedings.

Even the featured performances by guest APM talents happened in quick succession, thereby providing almost non-stop entertainment. Kudos therefore to Jasmine Roa, Rania Elseboi, Richard Buenaventura, Catherine Aquino, Amira Matias, Jaycarl Basco, Anthony Sampayan, Jun Magsino, and Raymund Ruben.

In a thanksgiving gathering in Riyadh a few days after the event, everyone involved in the production of this year’s Bagong Kampeon were handed over plaques or certificates of appreciation for his or her contributions. Among the gratefully acknowledged were members of the production team including Jeff Almendras (director), Wilson Nanquil and Aimry Roa (stage coordinators), Cristian Lois Almuete (talent coordinator), Jun Magsino (lights & sounds coordinator & voice-over talent), Enrico Valdecantos Abad (in charge of judges and tabulators), Ronie de Castro (rehearsals facilitator), Dr. Elenita Salicubay    (guest coordinator), Olan Arawag (venue and physical arrangements ), Leo Boticario (logistics & marshals) and Marina Matias, Marivic Elseboi and Mary Liz Aquino (ushers/usherettes coordinators).

Founded on May 15, 2005 by its low-key but very capable chairman, Jeff Almendras, APM is a non-profit, independent, and professional organization duly acknowledged by the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh. It that caters to the singing forte of the Filipino migrant workers as well as their dependents in Saudi Arabia, even as it was organized to provide both entertainment and opportunity to members of the Filipino community in Saudi Arabia to enjoy and gather in respite from their busy work and lives, while discovering and nurturing the musical talent in them.

After all, APM’s primary objective is to hone and develop the singing prowess of members, improve their performance and projection on stage, not to mention their vocal competency. APM instills the essence of professionalism among its talents in the field of music and arts.

APM’s current president, Olan Arawag, reiterated that "Quality not quantity” is at the forefront of APM’s advocacies and has unanimously been considered its operational motto. This means that APM does not put premium on so-called numbers in terms of membership and fellowship, but quality performances from its talents.

APM mentors/voice coaches identify individual weaknesses and strengths, develop and enhance every possibility, and bring out the power of his or her vocal strength before a member talent is presented on a stage and perform in front of an audience.

To this end and through the years, APM has so far staged equally successful contests and concerts including an APM “Pinoy Song Festival”(songwriting competition) and several editions of “Voice of Riyadh”, and looks forward to bringing more seasons of its much-anticipated events.

Reymond Guillena sings “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” by Whitney Houston

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