Solos and acts to keep an eye on this New Year
The first working week of 2014 brought The Manila Times face to face with talents who may just become the next big thing in the Entertainment scene.
Surprisingly, the most promising among these emerging artists have been honed by the Entertainment Department of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), which has been under the leadership of Bong Quintana as assistant vice president since 2010.
With his sound background in talent management and strong affiliation with the showbiz industry, Quintana has been able to seek the help of some of the best mentors in the business to turn the winners of the contests he established for the agency into even stronger talents.
The Manila Times is highly impressed with the newly formed group of Pacgor homegrown artists, The Viktors, comprised of the champions of the three seasons of the OPM@PAGCOR Talent Search, Joyce Tanana, Froilan Canlas and Karl Tanhueco, respectively.
During a press presentation of the gaming corporation’s stable of talents, the three brought the house down with a surprising and seamless mash-up of Adele’s “Someone Like You” and Eraserhead’s “Magasin.” Joyce, the very first OPM@PAGCOR winner, leads the trio with her full and crystal clear voice, which, according to several members of the private audience, sent shivers down their spine.
With continuous training, which according to Quintana happens every Monday without fail, the group’s singing and performance level is certainly at its element, and can very well breakthrough to the mainstream as Pagcor hopes and plans for their stable of talents.
“The Pagcor management is a staunch supporter and believer in Pinoy talents. Our own homegrown artists are the corporation’s biggest contributions to the Philippine entertainment and music industry.
Nais namin na mabigyan sila ng pagkakataon na maipakita ang kanilang talento kaya sila ay binigyan ng Pacgor ng chance na maging featured performers sa Casino Filipino. And now, we are launching them to the mainstream entertainment arena.”
Besides The Viktors, Pagcor also presented Dash as One Rhythm, featuring erstwhile Pagcor 5 member, rocker Dash Camporaso and her band; the Krazy Chikz, an all-female group comprised of beauty queens-turned-models-turned-singers-turned-dancers, Raine de Guzman, Reyna Yamanouchi, Carin Ramos and Kim Parajes, who are all Miss Casino Filipino 2012 pageant winners; and the K Menn,” a singing trio formed in 2013 whose all-male members, Steev Fernandez, Mykle Benedicto and Eeboy Quizol, were also finalists in the last three seasons of the OPM@PAGCOR nationwide singing search.
“We are very excited about the group’s upcoming performances because they are the best of the best. They have proven their talent after winning either as grand finalists or champions in PAGCOR’s nationwide talent search and pageants,” Quintana added.
The AVP for Entertainment also said that while the artists are waiting for bigger breaks outside of the company, they will continue to train under Elmer Blancaflor for singing, Donald Galang for dance, and himself for hosting and spiels.
“They will also focus on different genres, which will give casino patrons more choices of entertainment. Dash as One Rhythm will be playing almost all genres. The K Menn will be focusing on novelty songs, ballads and classics. On the other hand, the Krazy Chikz will be dancing and singing pop and modern songs. The Viktors meantime will be rendering OPM, ballad and contemporary pieces,” he enumerated.
Quintana further revealed that in fully supporting their artists’ dreams of crossing over to the mainstream, his department is already in talks with a record label to pursue album releases, as well as a possible representative in the second season of the highly successful The Voice of the Philippines singing competition on ABS-CBN.
Meanwhile, in the acting department, The Manila Times also sat down with two new artists of Boy Abunda’s talent management company, Backroom Inc., which also happens to be where Quintana learned the ropes in show business.
This 2014, Backroom is pushing a batch of artists it has labelled NYOBG, which stands for “Not Your Ordinary Boys and Girl.” The group is comprised of Ian Batherson, Carlo Sawit, PJ Go, Avery Paraiso, Benj Bolivar, Kaye Chua, Maui Lumba, and Bon Jovi Osorio, all out to make their mark in the entertainment industry.
Taking the proper steps toward stardom, the young talents have taken various workshops under director Laurice Guillen, actor Pen Medina, singer Annie Quintos of The Company, the G-Force company and of course, Boy Abunda to prepare themselves for their big break. Now, NYOBG believes they are ready to go full throttle in show business.
Speaking first with PJ Go, a part-time model and a Marketing Management undergraduate from the University of the East (UE), The
Manila Times discovered a moving back story, which he hopes will help him land challenging roles on TV, and maybe even the big screen.
At 23 years old, PJ has already experienced major losses in his life.
The first was with the untimely passing of Chinese father from cancer, which was followed by the death of his mother from leukaemia within less than a year.
“Dalawa lang po kaming magkapatid na lalaki, and we come from the second marriages of both my mom and dad,” he told The Manila Times. “Maayos po ang naging pagpapalaki nila sa amin kaya lang, hindi po kami accepted ng pamilya ng father namin dahil hindi Chinese si Mama.”
As PJ’s story goes, his mother had a very difficult time supporting him and his brother after their father died since he was the sole breadwinner. When she fell ill, they had to find ways to help pay for her treatment since the three of them were on their own, which led him to accept modelling offers by local brands and fashion designers.
“Nung namatay po si Mama, pinag-aral naman po kami ng Chinese grandmother namin, pero we still had to work para po sa personal na gastos namin.”
It was at this point that a fellow model introduced him to Boy Abunda, who in turn told him that he can turn his life around with hard work.
“Sabi po niya, puwede ko raw pong gawing positive yung pinagdaanan ko sa buhay bilang isang aktor,” PJ added. “And sana nga po, this year, makakuha na po ako ng acting break sa TV.”
Fashionistas may recognize PJ from walking the ramp during Philippine Fashion Week for brands like Bench and designers like Rusty Lopez.
Meanwhile, Bon Jovi Osorio, who was obviously named after the famous singer, is another hopeful new actor, who is now appearing as Jake Cuenca’s best friend in primetime teleserye Maria Mercedes.
Like PJ, he is the only one in his family pursuing a showbiz career, but has for an aunt by affiliation actress Sharmaine Arnaiz. Raised in the United States, it was through Sharmaine that Bonj, as the NYOBG call him, met entertainment folks during one vacation.
“I don’t know what it is about showbiz but I really felt this pull the first time I found myself among people in the industry,” he related. “A couple of years back, I took a leave from college and tried it out but I only went as far as doing TVCs.”
Asked by his mother to return to the states to finish his degree, Bonj became the dutiful son, but pleaded to return to Manila the moment
he secured his diploma in Business.
“Pumayag naman sila,” he laughed, “and they’re very happy with how things are starting to happen to me now.”
Besides Maria Mercedes, Bonj is often seen on TV through the Excelente Brandy and Nissin Cup Noodles commercials.
“I just hope I’ll have a steady career this 2014. It doesn’t have to be big. Even if it’s a slow climb, it’s okay because the faster you get there, the faster you go down. Steady is the word. Steady is consistent,” he concluded.
NYOBG opened the New Year with regular shows as a group, titled Not Your Ordinary Variety Show at Pagcor Casino branches. For this month, they will be at Casino Filipino Mimosa Satellite on January 17; Airport Casino Filipino on January 18; and Casino Filipino Pavilion on January 23.
For more information on Casino Filipino’s entertainment offerings, call the Entertainment Department at 854-4688 or 852-7760 or log on to www.casinofilipino.ph and www.facebook/casinofilipino. For inquiries on NYOBG, call Backroom Inc. at 4351108 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.