CEBU CITY- Nearly 300 aspiring singers from all walks of life showed up at the Teatro Casino of Casino Filipino Cebu from April 10 to 11 to literally sing their hearts out as they tried their luck in the Cebu leg of the auditions for the “OPM@PAGCOR, A Nationwide Search for the Total OPM Performer”.
Church and school choir members, students or graduates fresh from College, OFWs, tricycle drivers, a singing waiter, a soldier, a barber and hairstylist are among those who participated in the OPM@PAGCOR Cebu auditions.
Despite the thought that there are lots of other people who can sing better than her, half Nigerian-half Filipina Pretzel Cabarrubias still auditioned. “Wala po akong training, wala din masyadong experience. Sa pagsali ko lang sa singing contests talaga. Tapos ang mga kinakanta ko pa ay hindi OPM, kaya parang ayaw ko nung una na mag-audition,” she shared.
But the 19-year old mom and housewife decided to join the search due to financial needs. Although her live-in partner has a job, Cabarrubias said she also wanted to help especially in buying the needs of their baby girl.
According to Cabarrubias, it was her mother who motivated her to join singing contests. “Andyan sya palagi naka-suporta sa akin. Nung nanalo ako one time sa singing contest, nanood sya at sa sobrang saya nya inatake, na-comatose at saka namatay,” she sadly shared.
“Kaya nung nawala sya, nahirapan talaga ako. Kasi kami na lang dalawa ang magkasama. Iniwan kami nung father ko after ako ipanganak. Hindi ko na sya nakita. Pero alam nya na may anak sya sa mother ko,” she said. But Cabarrubias’ dream of becoming a singer didn’t end with her mother’s death. “Nagpursige pa ako sa pagkanta, at si mama at ang baby ko ang naging inspiration ko,” she added.
Also trying his luck was Corporal Alberto Julaton of the Philippine Army. The soldier, who came all the way from Catbalogan, Samar said he auditioned not to really win but to sing and share the song composed by his commanding general.
Julaton’s original audition piece entitled “Sundalong Pilipino” expresses the sacrifices of Filipino soldiers for the country. “Sumali ako dahil gusto ko maipahatid yung message ng kanta sa ibang tao, at isa ito sa mga pagkakataon,” he said.
Already serving the Philippine Army for the past 10 years, Julaton noted this was the first time in his life that he auditioned for a singing contest. “Unang-unang audition ko ito. Pero masaya ako at nai-share ko yung kanta sa mga judges. At nagpapasalamat din ako sa PAGCOR at sa OPM dahil maganda at very interesting ang contest na ito. Dahil dito, makikita mo talaga ang talent ng mga Pinoy at yung totoong galing natin sa pagkanta,” he enthused.
OPM Vice President for External Affairs Noel Cabangon who was part of the judging panel during the auditions observed the Cebu auditionees are really good singers. He added the jurors saw a lot of potential talents during the two-day auditions. “But, this is really about weeding out because we have hundreds of entries, and we really have to select the best,” he said.
Cabangon also noted the OPM@PAGCOR nationwide search is like American Idol. “The difference is we don’t have text votes here because sometimes that becomes the deciding factor and text voting might sway the decision,” he added.
“This is also a good project between PAGCOR and OPM. PAGCOR is helping OPM to bring out the best of the Filipino talents. This singing competition is not only concentrated in one place but nationwide so it’s giving opportunity to a lot of aspirants,” Cabangon said.
Apart from discovering amateur singing talents, the OPM@PAGCOR nationwide search will also draw a lot of Filipino performers to sing Original Pilipino Music. “It will encourage more Filipinos to patronize local music,” Cabangon remarked.
Bayang Barrios, another judge during the Cebu auditions, added having a purely OPM singing search will help promote original compositions of local artists. “This gives a big push to the Philippine music industry since most of the youth today sing foreign songs,” she said.
Barrios also expressed her appreciation to PAGCOR for supporting OPM in this project. “PAGCOR has the capacity to sponsor. We all know that OPM cannot do this without PAGCOR’s help and support,” she added. “It is also overwhelming to see fresh talents,” she ended.