Original Pilipino Performing Arts (OPPA), an initiative of the Resorts World Philippines Cultural Heritage Foundation, Inc., marks its third year as it introduces its new roster of young and talented student-artists granted with academic assistance and workshops.
This year’s scholars underwent a rigid and thorough screening process by the board of judges, composed of OPPA President and First Lady of Musical Theater Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, OPPA Vice President and West End performer Michael Stuart Williams, Manila Philharmonic Orchestra’s Maestro Rodel Colmenar, theater director Jaime del Mundo, production designer Ed Lacson, Jr., Philippine Opera Company Artistic and Managing Director Karla Gutierrez, and Danspace Director and Ballet Philippines principal dancer Maritoni Rufino Tordesillas.
Twelve OPPA scholars are currently honing their creative talents at their institution of choice, the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB), where they are trained by renowned artists, leading industry practitioners, and academe professionals.
Matthew Marasigan, 18, started playing classical piano at age 11 and bass guitar three years later. Not until people started noticing his skills did he realize that he had a talent for music. From then on, he polished his art and started working on original compositions. He has since believed that music is the greatest art form in the world.
Julian Juangco, 17, has been recognized for his talent in performing arts in his younger years. Fond of singing, he started writing his own songs at age 10. He has actively participated in national competitions such as The Voice Teens and Pilipinas Got Talent. However, lately, he decided to focus more on music production.
Moon Cairo Peralta, 18, comes from a musically-inclined family, one of the many reasons why he pursued the same path. His father taught him how to play the drums, which in turn inspired him to take up piano and guitar lessons on his own. Since last year, he has recorded his own demos.
Jonathan Marco Reantaso, 19, fell in love with the guitar when he was 11, and by 14, he founded his progressive blues rock band Mean Jay, which represented the country in the 2015 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. He has performed in festivals here and abroad including Fête de la Musique in France. At 15, he was designated by the Yupangco Music Corporation as the Fender Guitar Ambassador. His musical adventures include performances with French RNB artist David Abakan, Pinoy rock legends, and plus playing with his three other bands, Be Lucid, Puerza Azul, and the soon-to-be-launched Holmes. He self-produced his own five-song guitar instrumental EP entitled Sunny Side Up.
Arvin Lloyd Isidro, 19, is an activist, a member of National Democratic Mass Organization (NDMO), and an active cultural worker of Panday Sining, a performing group of artists that aim to use art as expressions of national democracy. He maximizes his creative talent in filmmaking, performing arts, and visual arts to serve as a catalyst to hopefully change the systematic views of ordinary Filipinos.
Anika Elyana Licudan, 19, was introduced to theater in the original musical Beauty and the Bible in 2009, and she instantly fell in love with it. She enrolled in theater workshops, including the established Trumpets Playshop, took voice lessons, and studied piano and guitar. She hopes everyone will realize the importance of arts.
Alyssa T. Torres, 17, has been fond of music and the world of role playing. A late bloomer, she was in 9th grade when she engaged in the school’s production, followed by a series of plays and performances to a broader audience. Her vast background, from backstage to acting, offered her opportunities to understand different perspectives in life.
Performing arts in Dance
Eduardson and Emmerson Evangelio, 18, started their training in dance under their elementary school’s Special Program in the Arts, where the twins have garnered several honors and awards.
They discovered their passion for ballet when, at age 12, they joined in the Summer Arts Workshop of Lola Grande Foundation. They trained under Philippine Ballet Theatre by the Ballet Master Anatoli Panasyukov where they performed in major productions here and abroad. Currently, the siblings continue to enhance their skills with Ballet Manila under the guidance of Artistic Director and CEO Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and Co-Artistic Director Osias Barroso.
Stella Mee Estriber, 20, began her foray early when she enlisted in the performing arts during her senior high school years, and has since been a member of various dance companies. She competed in local competitions such as Sayaw Pinoy of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
Brixmond Utrera, 19, likewise adapted a performing arts track in his junior and senior high school, and is completely at ease setting foot in tournaments of various genres such as interpretative, jazz, folk, festival, and street dance.
Florencio De Guzman, 20, trained in jazz, hip-hop, folk, and contemporary dance, is currently involved in ballet. His background includes performances in various shows and competitions such as Sayaw Pinoy of NCCA and participated in companies like Chameleon Dance Company.
Other partner schools of the OPPA Foundation include Meridian International College, Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), St. Scholastica’s College, St. Paul University-Manila, and Assumption College-San Lorenzo.
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