LOS ANGELES – The Philippines yet again won big at the world’s stage by snatching a grandslam win by taking home the top two awards at the World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA).
On Friday, July 18, 11-year old Lloyd Montebon of Davao and the Xtreme Dancers duo of Raymark Alminasa (22) and Eddie Melody (23) from Coronadal were respectively crowed as the Junior and Senior Grand Champion Performers of the World at the recently concluded WCOPA Finals held in Downtown LA.
Montebon, a junior male vocalist, stunned the audience with heart-stopping rendition of Frank Sinatra’s The Impossible Dream, for which he won the Junior Vocalist Championship title.
The Xtreme Dancers were the last to perform for the seniors division, and brought the house down with their highly energetic and mind-blowing dance routine that involved a bedazzled mop as a prop. They were named champions for the Senior Dance Group category.
Speaking to Asian Journal, Montebon admitted that he was very happy over the victory, and was overwhelmed to see his fellow kababayans ecstatic in celebration for his win. Montebon also expressed his profuse gratitude for WCOPA Philippines’ National Director Gerry Mercado for believing in him and supporting him, as well as for the numerous friends, family, sponsors and supporters who helped him make the trip to LA. Montebon’s
“Happy po ako (I’m so happy),” Montebon said.
According to Mercado, Montebon had almost missed his flight to LA because he still could not afford to buy a ticket. However, some groups and individuals in the Philippines became aware of Montebon’s situation, and had promptly extended financial assistance to the boy and his family just so he can make it to the competition.
Mercado said that he was speechless on the Philippines’ win as the grand champion performers of the world in the seniors category. This was the first time for the country to join and to win a major award in WCOPA for the dance category.
“I was speechless because this time, we were able to show the WCOPA that we can also dance, not only sing,” Mercado said.
Indeed, the Philippines has been known in WCOPA as a country that produces top notch vocalists, including Jed Madela, the first ever Filipino to win the Senior Grand Champion Performer of the World title in 2005. Aside from Madela, seven other Filipino vocalists were hailed in the past as Grand Champion Performers of the World, including Aria Clemente (2007), Catherine Loria (2008), Rhap Salazar (2009), Rose Marielle Mamaclay (2010), Joshua Pineda (2011), Ianna Aldeza dela Torre (2013), and Beverly Caimen (2013).
This year, the Philippines achieved a milestone by taking home the senior grand champions trophy via the dance category.
Aside from Motebon and the Xtreme Dancers, two other Filipinos made it to the WCOPA Finals, model Marilyn Reyes (25) and vocalist Rod Caralde (11). Although the two other Filipinos didn’t win the championship title for their respective categories, Mercado said that the experience itself of being in a tough finals competition will prove to be a worthy experience that builds on the artists’ careers.
For his part, Filipino pop star Madela said that he was also speechless over the victory.
“When it comes to performing, not just in singing, but in the total performing [package], the Philippines stands out talaga. It’s tested and proven that every year, we send out great talents. Sobrang proud ako sa Pinoy (I’m so proud of the Pinoys),” Madela said to Asian Journal after the competition.
When Madela first competed in WCOPA, the Philippines only sent two delegates. This year, a total of 45 Filipino acts joined the competition, with talents ranging from vocalists, models, dancers, actors, and instrumentalists.
Although it was a difficult climb for the team to generate support, grow its roster of talents, and build the credibility of the competition within the country — the journey has proven to be fruitful for WCOPA Team Philippines.
“As the years go on, I hope that more people will support Team Philippines,” Madela added.
Manny Ilagan, deputy director for the Philippine Department of Tourism’s Los Angeles office, said that Team Philippines’ participation in WCOPA is very important because they are able to represent the country well in international competition, and bring honor to the nation with their superb skill and talent.
“Malaking karangalan ito sa ating bansa (This is a huge honor for our country),” Ilagan said.
Over the weekend, Ilagan flew Ilagan flew back to Manila to join the Ambassadors, Consuls General and Tourism Directors Tour of the Philippines. He said that he will be very happy to share the good news of the Filipinos’ victory with his diplomat colleagues.
“Masayang masaya ako at may abutting balita nanaman tayo na mapag-uusapan sa Pilipinas, at na-recognize nanaman ang ating talent sa buong munro (I’m very happy that we again have some good news to talk about in the Philippines, and that Filipino talent has once again been recognized by the international community),” Ilagan said.