Mindanao talents conquer WCOPA

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Sunday, July 27, 2014


I FIRST met Arthur Zata when he was directing and producing his full-length film "Positive". The following year we met up again as he was busy promoting his new project The Talent Edge.

It was a talent show which would pick contestants from Mindanao to represent the country in the 18th World Championships of the Performing Arts held in Los Angeles California. And these Mindanao representatives recently gave honors to the country during the international event.

WCOPA is described as the one and only "official Talent Olympics" for aspiring performers and entertainers. After 11 years of incredible growth, it is the only premier international talent and modeling competition of its kind annually held in "Hollywood", the entertainment capital of the world.

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In 2005, singer Jed Madela copped the Grand Champion Performer of the World in that year's WCOPA. The first Filipino to do so. In 2009, my schoolmate in high school, architect Maila Manalang Mitra brought home five medals in the singing competitions (one gold and four silvers) in WCOPA.

This 2014, Mindanao scored twin triumphs as Lloyd Montebon, a 12-year old singer from Davao City and Xtreme Dancers from Koronadal City bagged the Junior Grand Champion Performer of the World and Senior Grand Champion of the World, respectively.

Both Montebon and the Xtreme Dancers bested 52 other countries who competed at the only annual Talent Olympics in Hollywood. Montebon soared over competition with his powerful rendition of the "Impossible Dream" during the grand finals night.

"Dako akong pasalamat kay Lord sa talent na iyang gihatag sa ako (I am very thankful to the Lord for the talent which He has given me.)," Lloyd said.

Singer Jed Madela, the first Filipino who won the Senior Grand Champion Performer of the World in 2005 and was inducted to the Performing Arts Hall of Fame in 2013, was elated over Montebon's victory and immediately tweeted "We won!!!! Junior Grand Champion Performer of the World!!!! Go Philippines!!!"

Unknown to many, Lloyd's stint for WCOPA was fraught with drama, as few weeks before flying to California he wasn't able to secure a plane ticket yet. But financial support from Talent Edge, his home talent management, the National Youth Commission commissioner-at-large Jose Sixto Dantes III, DepEd 11, Association of Regional Directors and Employees (ARENA) in Region 11, Lafayette Lim and NCCC Mall of Davao, Phoenix, and Councilor Marissa Abella came just in the nick of time which enabled Lloyd to fly to the US and join the competitions.

"Kung wala ang mga tao nga nagsuporta sa akoa, wala siguro nako naabot akong pangarap na makaapil sa WCOPA (If not because of the people who supported me, I wouldn't have had reached my dream to join WCOPA)," he added.

Meanwhile, after 10 years of lording it over in the singing competitions, the Philippines has proven that Filipino artists are not only good singers but dancers as well when Xtreme Dancers bested other talents in the senior category. The dance duo Reymark Alminaza and Eddie Melody, Jr. are the pride of Green Valley College from the Koronadal.

Reymark and Eddie wowed the judges on their unique concept of using a mop as their main prop. "Para ito sa aming mga kababayang OFW na nagsisikap sa ibang bansa, at para sa mga Pilipinong hindi sumusuko kahit ano mang mga pagsubok, (We offer this dance to the OFWs who work hard and for the Filipinos who never give up in any difficult situation)," said Alminaza.

This is the first time, Mindanao joined WCOPA and sent 12 official entries which contributed to the Team Philippines' second consecutive grandslam in the event.

"Despite all financial hardships and lack of financial support, it is such a humbling experience to showcase how beautiful and talented Filipinos especially Mindanaoans are in the entertainment capital of the world, Hollywood," said Arthur who is the official WCOPA Talent Scout for Mindanao.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 28, 2014.

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