Resciebelle Santiago signs with Romanian record company

Plus: Maine Mendoza spotted in Abu Dhabi airport; The Voice Kids Philippines off to final rounds; Ari: My Life with a King selected for Japanese film festival

Resciebelle Santiago has signed with Romania record company Cat Music, an affiliate of Sony Music. Courtesy Romania’s Got Talent
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Resciebelle Santiago was working as a singer in restaurants in Malaysia for several years, until a stint on a reality programme changed the course of her life. During a two-week holiday in Romania earlier this year, Santiago spontaneously walked in to open auditions for Romania's Got Talent, a franchise of the Got Talent singing competition.

The 26-year-old covered Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You and received a standing ovation from the four judges and the live studio audience. Santiago went on to reach the show's grand final last June, but lost out to Laura Bretan, a 13-year-old opera wunderkind.

Since appearing on the show, Santiago has left her job in Malaysia and is now focused on building a career in Romania, performing in shows across the country and appearing on Romanian television. This week, Santiago visited Manila to see her family and announced that she has been signed to record an album with Romania’s Cat Music.

"I've been signed to the biggest recording company in Romania, an affiliate of Sony Music," Santiago told Philippine Entertainment Portal. "I just recorded my first single, titled Fighter. The album will be first released in Romania and then internationally."

Santiago said the album will feature both English and Romanian songs, as well as collaborations with Romanian pop musicians.

“If I am fortunate enough – and God willing – I’d like to have my own solo concert here in the Philippines,” she said.

Santiago grew up poor in Manila. At age 15, she started performing as a singer in local bars. She previously appeared on Philippine television on the singing competition Pinoy Pop Superstar.

Maine Mendoza spotted in Abu Dhabi airport

Filipino actress Maine Mendoza was spotted during her stopover at the Abu Dhabi International Airport last Saturday. The 21-year-old star was flying from Morocco to Manila via Etihad Airways.

At the airport, her Filipino fans – both passengers and airport employees – were elated to see Mendoza, who was flying on her own and unaccompanied by any entourage. Several fans approached her for a picture and autograph. The same scene occurred when Mendoza arrived at Manila’s International Airport, where she drew a sizeable crowd around her as she walked out of the airport.

Mendoza, along with co-star Alden Richards, are the most popular on-screen couple in Philippine film and on television. Stormed by crowds wherever they go, they were in Morocco to shoot a documentary and a magazine cover. They apparently flew separately to avoid attention.

Their latest film, the romantic comedy Imagine You and Me, opened in UAE cinemas on July 28.

The Voice Kids Philippines off to final rounds

The third edition of The Voice Kids Philippines is down to its final nine contestants, with the celebrity coaches – music superstar Sharon Cuneta, Broadway sensation Lea Salonga and pop rocker Bamboo Mañalac – mentoring three singers each.

The current front-runners are 11-year-old John Carlo Tan, coached by Cuneta, and 7-year-old Yessha Hilkiah dela Calzada, mentored by Salonga.

“It’s a very physically – as well as vocally and emotionally and mentally – demanding time for them to do live shows,” said Salonga. “These kids are tough – aside from their voices, their minds and their hearts are strong.”

The forthcoming weeks will feature two more rounds of eliminations, concluding with a grand final on September 4.

The Voice Kids Philippines is open to contestants ages 7 to 13. It is currently the most-watched programme on Philippine television, according to surveys by AGB Nielsen and Kantar Media. It is broadcast worldwide, including in the UAE, on The Filipino Channel.

The show’s biggest success story is Darren Espanto, the runner-up of the show’s first season in 2014. Espanto has since released two chart-topping albums and toured worldwide, including a performance at last year’s Abu Dhabi Pinoy Music Festival.

Ari: My Life with a King selected for Japanese festival

Filipino director Carlo Enciso Catu's debut feature, the coming-of-age drama Ari: My Life with a King, has been selected to screen at the Fukuoka International Film Festival, which will be held from September 15 to 25 in the southern Japanese city.

It is the sole Philippine movie in the festival's main line-up of 13 films, which also includes Iraq's A Flag Without a Country (directed by Bahman Ghobadi), Iran's Radio Dreams (directed by Babak Jalali) and Fourth Direction from India (directed by Gurvinder Singh).

Ari: My Life with a King stars teenage actor Ronwaldo Martin, in his debut film appearance, as well as Francisco Guinto and Cecile Yumul. The movie won several awards at the Metro Manila Film Festival last December before screening in festivals in Houston, New York and Vancouver.