Filipino talent search show Talentadong Pinoy draws hundreds in UAE

More than just a talent show, Talentadong Pinoy instills hope, inspiration and rekindles lost dreams.

Monalisa Revel Fajardo, who is based in Qatar, dedicated her audition to her children. Courtesy Ferdinand Godinez
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On Tuesday, for the first time since the popular Filipino talent search show Talentadong Pinoy was launched in 2008, Filipinos in the Middle East had the chance to take part in the competition.

The first round of auditions for Talentadong Pinoy Middle East drew hundreds of Filipinos residing in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.

Tomorrow, the first winner from the region will be named at the Boracay Club in Asiana Hotel, Dubai, during the qualifying rounds and the grand finale of Talentadong Pinoy Middle East.

Cash prizes and the chance to compete against winners from other regions at the Talentadong Pinoy Worldwide contest in Manila are up for grabs.

Passion to perform

For many contestants, the thrill of performing before scouts, judges and a large audience drives them more than the cash incentive.

For Daniella and Danica Salonga, sisters who auditioned as singers, the experience was worth the stage fright.

"The audition itself was nerve-racking," says Daniella, 14. "But that's nothing compared to the feeling of being up there on stage and being graded. Other than that, it was really fun and we're happy to have gone this far considering the huge number of contestants."

The Dubai-based band singer Duval de los Santos, 36, says: "I've always wanted to join. I love singing and just to perform in front of my friends was very special. Of course, I was hoping to win, but I've joined other contests in the past to know that losing - like winning - is part of the game. I've given my best and I'm proud of that."

Like Duval, the 12-year-old Van Wendell Dimaano from Al Ain has seen enough competitions to understand the value of sportsmanship. "There are a lot of good contestants and it's really up to the judges to decide. I just enjoy the moment and it's nice to be seen on TV," he says.

Open to all sorts

Talentadong Pinoy is successful largely because it is not limited to singing and dancing. Magicians, ventriloquists and pyro performers have taken part in auditions and qualifying rounds.

Vergel Grenas, a graphic designer and photographer sang, while painting a canvas. "Music and painting are two of my favourite things in life," says Grenas, 31. "So, I thought: 'Why not combine both to produce something unique?'"

Bridge to home

Even though the talents showcased are eclectic, the show provides Filipino expatriates around the world a connection to home.

The husband-and-wife duo Maricar and Tristan Alintanahin, who are living in Al Ain, say they would have loved to stay in the Philippines and break into the music scene there.

"Like most overseas Filipino workers, we want to help our families financially - that's why we've decided to work here," Tristan says.

"We're still hoping to have a career in music, perhaps as composers. Also, we're not getting any younger so [we'd] better engage in something we're excited about, even if just occasionally."

The contestant Roberto Alvarez, 51, says Talentadong Pinoy was a way to reach out to his loved ones back home, who he rarely is able to visit.

"I wanted them to see me on TV," he says. "Even though I'm not there with them physically, seeing me on television is the closest thing that we can get to a family reunion."

Talentadong Pinoy Middle Eastwill be broadcast this month on OSN. For more information, visit www.osn.com and www.talentadongpinoy.com

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