Team Philippines all set for 2009 ‘Hollywood Olympics’

by Oliver Oliveros

MANILA (July 6) —  Twenty-eight Filipino performing artists hailing from all over the Philippines, U.S. and Canada comprise Team Philippines at the 13th World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) to be held at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles, California on July 11 to 18, 2009.   This year’s delegation is led by Philippine National Director Carlo Orosa, Philippine Associate Director Oliver Oliveros, and KB Entertainment’s Kitchie Benedicto.

Singers vying for the “Grand Champion Vocalist of the World” titles this year are:  Martha Joy (Viva recording artist and “Canadian Idol” finalist); Evette Pabalan, (“Sexbomb” dancer and television actress); Mayumi Morales (sister of young singer actor Makisig, and a protégé of Isay Alvarez and Tricia Jimenez’s Spotlight Artists Centre); Rhap Salazar, (ABS CBN “Little Big Star” Brightest Star); Divo Bayer, (a recording artist based in Los Angeles, California); Keane Andeza and Oreo Vamenta, new recording artists; and Maila Mitra, Nicole Espolong, Melchi Bicua, CJ Concepcion and Mia Sinaguinan, up-and-coming young performers.

Solo vocalists Guy Lockwood and Izarzuri Vidal, and group vocalists Kulay Pikata and Young Voices of the Philippines Quartet are also part of the Philippine team.

Bryann Foronda, 2009 Department of Education (DepEd) Mr. Philippines Youth, is the country’s sole entry at WCOPA’s modeling competitions this year.  He will be competing in the photo and spokesmodeling events.

The WCOPA is the only official “Talent Olympics” for aspiring performing artists.  It was designed to create a system of competitions that will provide invaluable experience and exposure for achieving artists around the world.

Contestants must be qualified and invited by Scouts and licensed National Directors in order to participate in the World system of competitions.  The “Juniors” are ages 15 and under, and “Seniors” are ages 16 and over.  Contestants from 50 countries including the U.S. compete for the top prizes in dance, vocal, modeling, acting, comedy, bands, instrumental and variety (various ages, females and males, individuals and groups).

The Final Night spotlights a competition unrivaled in the history of performing arts to celebrate… “The Champions of the World”! Agents, producers, directors and others from the entertainment industry are invited to judge, and screen new faces and talent. Special emphasis is placed on entertainment value during judging.  However, this in no way takes away from the technical aspect of the performances. Judges are looking for that special charisma and marketability that major entertainers have. Well-wishers include former Vice President Al Gore, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Debbie Allen, Pauly Shore, and many others.

Griff O’Neil, WCOPA President, states, “Sports has its Olympics, and now the Performing Arts has its World Championships!  This is the only official international competition program  for seasoned and up-and-coming performers and entertainers annually held in “Hollywood,” entertainment capital of the world.  Countries are represented by delegations similar to the Olympics.  It is a rare opportunity for a privileged few.”  

The top prizes at the WCOPA are the coveted “Grand Champion Performer of the World” titles.  However, besides awarding gold, silver and bronze medals in the elimination rounds, Olympic-style awards are presented to overall and grand champion winners in various categories of competition, along with $50,000 in scholarships to the famed School For Film and Television in New York.

Since the Philippines joined the WCOPA in 2005, five Filipino performing artists have won the global competition’s top prizes:  Jed Madela (2005 Grand Champion Vocalist of the World and Grand Champion Performer of the World), Cercado Sisters (2006 Grand Champion Group Vocalists of the World), Reymond Sajor (2007 Grand Champion Vocalist of the World), Aria Clemente (2007 Grand Champion Vocalist of the World and Grand Champion Performer of the World), and Catherine Loria (2008 Grand Champion Vocalist of the World and Grand Champion Performer of the World).

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