I joined a distinguished panel that included superstar Nora Aunor, songwriters Trina Belamide and Mon del Rosario, recording executive Jonathan Manalo, and singer Jed Madela.
It was an amazing show, really, for something as spiritual as I expected it to be. But the response of the audience at the Big Dome to the songs gave me goosebumps.
In the end, a teenager bagged the grand prize. Noemi Ocio, a 19-year-old student, won the grand prize of P500,000 and the title “Song of the Year” for “Kumapit Ka Lang,” the song she penned that was included in the 12 finalists in A Song of Praise (ASOP) Music Festival Year 5 grand finals on Nov. 7. Carmela “Mela” Ravanilla interpreted the song.
Glenn Bawa and Ronald Calpis’ entry “God Will Always Make a Way,” interpreted by Bugoy Drilon, won first runner up; second runner up was Joselito Caleon’s entry “Araw at Ulan,” interpreted by Sitti Navarro. Third runners up were “Mula Sa Aking Puso,” which Joseph Ponce wrote and Carlo David interpreted, and “You Stood by Me” by Vincent Labanting, performed by Jason Fernandez. The cash prizes they went home with amounted to P250,000, P150,000 and P100,000, respectively. Non-winners received P20,000 as consolation prize.
“Ikaw Lamang” by Jonathan Sta. Rita and performed by Tim Pavino won the “People’s Choice Award,” garnering the most number of combined online votes and YouTube views. Meanwhile, “Best Song Interpreters” were Jason Fernandez for “You Stood by Me” and Bugoy Drilon for “God Will Always Make a Way.” Winners of the special awards received P 50,000 each.
Richard Reynoso and Toni Rose Gayda hosted the finals night.
X-Factor UK finalist and all-female group 4th Impact performed a powerful medley of previous ASOP winning, “Purihin Mo Ang Dios Oh Pilipinas” (2012), “Ikaw” (2013), “May Awa ang Dios” (2014) and “Kung Pag-ibig Mo’y Ulan” (2015). Jason Dy, Michael Pangilinan, Liezel Garcia and Leah Patricio teamed up for a number featuring a medley of 12 song entries from ASOP Year 4.
ASOP aims to inspire everyone to give praise and glory to God. It also supports the Original Pilipino Music (OPM) industry, particularly the gospel and praise music genre. This season also produced a wide variety of praise and gospel songs with messages of thanksgiving, asking forgiveness and trusting God in the midst of trials and challenges in life.
These moved ASOP judges to express appreciation over the tilt’s unique concept.
When asked by the hosts before the winners were announced, I said, “Busog na busog ang tenga ko sa songs of praise tonight, I have never heard so many songs of praise sa isang gathering kundi dito lang sa Araneta Coliseum.”
Multi-platinum record producer and ABS-CBN’s Star Music record label executive Jonathan Manalo, said “Magaganda talaga iba-iba yung estilo, genre, musically although yung lyrics naman ay all praises to the Lord.”
According to singer and composer Trina Belamide, “ASOP is the only song writing contest that allows for critiques from the judges, so nag-i-improve ang kanta ng mga contestants.”
Hitmaker and ASOP’s resident judge Mon Del Rosario meanwhile gave an advice, “Sa mga composer, huwag kayong matakot na matalo, ang dapat katakutan ay manalo sa mga bagay na walang kabuluhan, pero ang ASOP ay isang bagay at isang event na maraming kabuluhan.”
Pop balladeer and 2005 World Championship of the Performing Arts (WCOPA) grand champion Jed Madela commented, “Ito po ay isang daan para marinig ang kagalingan ng Pinoy.”
Award-winning actress and the country’s one and only Superstar Ms. Nora Aunor revealed her feelings, “Ako po ay kinikilabutan sa kasalukuyan, sapagka’t ang nararamdaman ko po rito ay pagmamahalan sa isa’t-isa, na ngayon ko lamang po naramdaman, sa totoo lamang po.”
Supporting this annual praise music competition are Bro. Eli Soriano, Overall Servant (Presiding Minister) to Members Church of God International (MCGI) and Kuya Daniel Razon, UNTV-Breakthrough and Milestones Productions International (BMPI) Chairman and CEO.
It was in 2004 when Bro. Eli started ASOP as internal songwriting contest. Kuya Daniel brought the concept on television and launched ASOP TV on UNTV News and Rescue in On plans for ASOP’s Year 6, Kuya Daniel said “Ang ASOP po will be going on its 6th year and we will be taking up ASOP on its next level, ibig sabihin po aangat tayo ng kaunting level and we will be going international.”