A LUCIO SAN PEDRO CLASSIC STUNS PGT JURY
by Pablo A. Tariman
In a talent search where participants outdo each other aping American singing idols, Francis Anne Virtudazo, made a big difference in the recent season of Pilipinas Got Talent (PGT) by singing the little known but time-tested classic,”Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” composed by National Artist for Music Lucio San Pedro.
The interpretation was pure, the technique didn’t call attention to itself and finally TV audiences world-wide got a taste of real singing and with an original Filipino song at that.
Indeed, the song number was too good to be true and in the process, it stunned the jury most of whom are non-musicians. “I lke the way you interpeted the song. You have the passion and you mean what you sing. We appreciate having a vocal gem like you,” said former ABS CBN executive Freddie Garcia, one of the judges of the competition alongside actor-comedian Vice Ganda and actors Robin Padilla and Angel Locsin.
Said Virtudazo: “It was overwhelming experiences seeing myself perform on TV. I was just really happy specially seeing my mother’s reaction during my song. How she would sing along with me and try to applaud even with just one hand (half of her body is paralyzed). It’s like I’ve made her long dream come true which is to see me sing on TV.”
What the jury didn’t know was that Virtudazo trained under the now Nevada-based Filipino soprano Everlita Rivera-David, once a member of the Mabuhay Singers. She got coaching at an early age from her motherDaisy Sancianco who plays the piano and an active choir coach.
Last year, she was gold medalist in the World Championship of Performing Arts (WCOPA) held in Long Beach, California and division champion for opera.
But it seemed prize money was not her goal in singing the classic San Pedro song in PGT.
He told this writer: “It’s not every day that you are given a chance to sing on TV. I am already lucky I got to audition and so I took the chance to sing my mother’s favorite song. I wanted to make sure that she will be able to see me on TV singing a song that was very close to her heart.”
Before the audition, her friends advised her to sing something more operatic or something that will show her versatility. “But I thought I’d rather go to a different path. I want people to hear my heart and be remembered as someone who would do everything to make her mother happy.”
Virtudazo dazzled the jury and got the unanimous nod to move on to the semi-finals of the competition. “After hearing their reaction, I felt I achieved something. I believe that as a performer, I should be a story teller. And from their comments I had a feeling that I was able to tell the story. It felt really nice to be recognized and appreciated.”
She tries to learn many things every time she competes and her WCOPA stint last year was a different experience. She realized she was not competing for herself but for her country. “The pressure is that you are part of the Philippine team. When I joined WCOPA 2015, I was just thinking this will not only honor my family but my country which has always been my advocacy. Jed Madela who is WCOPA Grand Champ 2005 is one of my inspirations in singing and to be with him at the competition was very educational. What made it more special was that I was fortunate to be awarded Division Champion for Opera. It’s something I never expected but felt very blessed.”
As it turned out, she won over equally impressive talents from more than 50 countries all over the world.
The lessons from that California-based competition and the preparation involved served her well.
She recalled: “I had to re-learn my technique for WCOPA. I had to ask my aunt (soprano Everlita Rivera) to see me all the way from Nevada to California just to train me. We worked on my endurance and my dynamics. I had to prepare myself with the change of weather and coping with jetlag. For PGT, I had to immerse myself with the music. I had to listen over and over again until the words were like my own already. I believe that this is the only way I could tell the story.”
From her mother and aunt, Virtudazo learned her big lesson as a singer.
It is simple but memorable: to master her technique and never to forget the heart.
Hosted by Billy Crawford and Luis Manzano, “Pilipinas Got Talent” airs every Saturday and Sunday on Channel 2 after “Home Sweetie Home.”